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riding a bike in the rainIf you live in Charlotte,  you may be dreading the coming season. Wet, snowy and cold weather may soon be upon us, meaning an end to warm-weather activities. Whether you ride your bicycle to get to work or school or simply ride for pleasure, you might be involved in a sort of countdown to when those wheels get hung up. Not so fast.

If you really want to ride your bike throughout the winter season, you certainly can. All it takes is a few changes in your habits. None of the changes you need to make are difficult, and none will cost a ton of money or time. Keep reading to discover how you can keep your wheels on the ground this winter.

1. Dress Right

You know enough to wear an outer layer that’s waterproof, but what are you wearing underneath? If you aren’t wearing breathable layers, you’ll be wet from sweat instead of rain. Look for clothes that breathe to wear underneath your winter-weather gear. That way you stay dry throughout your layers.

2. Change Your Sunglasses

If you wear sunglasses while you ride, ditch the dark lenses for ones that are clear or yellow. Dark lenses will inhibit your sight in low light conditions, like around the early sunsets of winter.

3. Brake Sooner

Just like your car, your bicycle will take longer to brake in wet weather. Keep this in mind when you are riding and brake sooner than you otherwise would. Also bear in mind that braking through a rain slick or puddle will be different than simply braking on slick roads.

4. Slicks

Speaking of slick roads, the rain will bring oil to the surface. The edges of oil slicks will have a rainbow-like appearance. If you see these, avoid them. Also be aware that any metal objects like manholes or bridges will be slippery and should be ridden over carefully.

5. Turning the Corner

If you are rounding a corner, try to lean your body more than your bike. The more upright your bike, the faster you can take a corner in the wet weather. If you can’t get the hang of leaning properly, just slow down. Either will work fine.

6. Tell Someone

Don’t leave home without telling someone you are heading out. While this is true any time you decide to ride your bike, it’s especially important in inclement weather. Let someone know what time you will be leaving, where you are going and the route you are taking to get there. Make a plan to check in with that person every 30 minutes or so.

If you are injured in a bicycle accident in Charlotte, you have rights. Reach out to our office today to schedule a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your accident and advise you of your legal rights. Call today or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.

jacob custer auger disabled scholar award winnerAuger & Auger is proud to announce that Jacob Custer is one of the recipients of our 2017 Fall Semester Disabled Scholar Award. These scholarships are presented twice a year to high-achieving students across America who have overcome their disability and achieved excellence in both the classroom and in their community. Recipients of the award receive $1,000 to assist them with their educational expenses.

Jacob is a wonderful example of the hard work and dedication that is required to overcome life’s challenges.  Born without the ability to hear sounds, Jacob received a cochlear implant for his right ear when he was 2 years old, and one for his left ear when he was 8.  Being unable to hear is a significant challenge and even with the aid of cochlear implants Jacob has to utilize his fine-tuned communication skills to meet the demands of the life of a busy and goal oriented student.

Early in life, Jacob joined the Boy Scouts. Scouting requires dedication, team work and focus. Not always being able to perfectly understand what scout leaders and fellow scouts were saying certainly presented a challenge. Through his parents, Jacob learned how to advocate for himself and to not be embarrassed when he needed to ask someone to repeat themselves. Jacob did not run from this challenge, but instead he learned how to flourish under challenging circumstances.  

Jacob described his experiences of learning to effectively communicate as a process that took time, effort and patience.  Being bold enough to be open about his hearing impairment and to express himself has paid great dividends to this young man as he eventually received the great honor of becoming an Eagle Scout – the highest rank a Boy Scout can receive. Additionally Jacob has experienced some outstanding adventures with the Boy Scouts including camping, boating and canoeing among many other activities.

Jacob also advocates for other hearing impaired individuals. He previously participated in program that does activities for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, and he has created bonds with others that face the same difficulties he does. Jacob has found support and inspiration from many different people; especially his parents. “They’ve been there for me, and continue to push me to be better for myself,” Jacob says. “I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

Originally from Nebraska, Jacob is now a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he is studying economics and public policy. The future is bright for Jacob as he continues his studies and considers his potential career options.  He has even mentioned an interest in politics which could give him plenty of opportunities to help others.

Parents across the country spend sleepless nights waiting for their teenagers to come home. They worry about their children’s safety, especially when they are driving. Unfortunately, teenage drinking and driving is a very real problem in the United States, and parents are right to be concerned.

Let’s start with the good news. Teenagers who claim to have consumed alcohol and then got behind the wheel has declined by more than half since 1991. The bad news is that there is still 1 out of every 10 high school students who admits to making this choice. While the rates have declined, drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are 17 times more likely to be involved in a crash when they have consumed alcohol than those who drive sober.

The Issue

While the statistics say that fewer high school students are drinking and driving, high school students drink and drive about 2.4 million times each month according to the CDC. Of those teen who say that they have had alcohol and then driven a vehicle, 85 percent also say that they binge drink, or consume five or more alcoholic beverages within two hours.

In 2010, 1 in 5 teenage drivers who had been involved in fatal vehicle collisions had some alcohol in their system. More than half of these teens had blood alcohol contents higher than what is legal for adults. The legal limit for adults across the country is 0.08%.

Proven Prevention

There are things that work when it comes to teenagers and things that don’t. When it comes to drinking and driving, there are proven preventions. These include:

  • No Tolerance – Any person in the United States who is under the age of 21 is not permitted to drive after drinking alcohol. There is no limit for people who are not of legal age to consume alcohol.
  • Graduated Driver’s Licenses – Some states have adopted a system of graduated driver’s licenses. In other words, as teenage drivers move through the stages, they are given more privileges, such as driving at night. Each state in the country has this system, though the specifics vary.
  • Parental Involvement – Research has proven that when parents lay down “rules of the road” and enforce those rules, teenage drivers are less likely to put themselves in risky situations.

What Parents Can Do

Besides talking to their children about safe driving and establishing rules, parents can model safe driving practices. They, themselves, can actively choose to not drive if they have been drinking. Parents can also be sure that their teenagers understand that they should call home, without fear of punishment, if the person they are riding with has been drinking.

Parents can also permit only one passenger, if any, in the car with their child if they are new to driving. They can limit nighttime driving and install apps on their child’s cell phone that prevent alerts from coming through when their child is driving.

If your child has been injured in a vehicle accident in Charlotte and the at-fault driver was found to be intoxicated, you have legal rights. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation.

It’s almost that time of year. Ghosts and goblins, zombies and clowns will be taking to the street in search of the best treats in the neighborhood. Halloween is quickly taking over as the most popular holiday of the year for both children and adults. If your little one will be taking part in any festivities, either at school, home or in the neighborhood, now is a great time to talk with them about safety.

As you get your little ones ready for the spooky night ahead, here are some things to do and talk about.

1. Plan a Route

Make sure that you know where your kids will be going if you won’t be walking with them. Older kids are sometimes permitted to trick-or-treat on their own, but you want to know where they are. Plan a route ahead of time and make sure your child knows they must stick to it.

2. Costume Choice

There are hundreds of available costumes on the market. When helping your little one pick a costume, make sure it is flame-resistant. Beyond that, make sure that your child is able to see and be seen. Attach glow sticks to the costume or have your child carry a flashlight.

3. Treats

When your child is visiting homes in search of the big haul, let them know that it is okay to accept treats at the door, but to never go inside someone’s house. If a neighbor is hosting a haunted house, be sure to accompany your child.

4. Beware of Dogs

Halloween isn’t only for humans. Many people dress up their pets and take them along for the fun. Teach your child to be respectful of any dogs they see on the sidewalk or street. Expect your child to be more tempted than usual to pet a dog when it is wearing a cute costume. Teach your child to always ask permission before stroking a stranger’s pet.

5. Your Own Home

Before you welcome any little ghouls onto your property, get it ready. Sweep debris from your walk and steps, clear your porch of any trip and fall hazards and install extra lighting to ensure people’s ability to see where they are going. If you are pulling in or out of your driveway, look an extra time or two. Children will be excited and may not be paying attention to moving vehicles.

Halloween is a fun holiday, but it can also prove hazardous. Take the time now to explain the expectations to your little ones and use the coming weeks to remind them of your discussion.

If your child is injured in an accident on Halloween in Charlotte, you may have the legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Reach out to our office and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of the accident and advise you of your legal rights.

If you are going to be driving this Halloween, you need to be hyper aware. Trick-or-treating may be held at various times throughout the state, with some localities hosting it in the afternoon and some during the evening hours. Check your local newspaper for specific times.

No matter what time the little ones will be out and about, it’s important that you keep your eyes peeled. Trick-or-treaters are excited and have one thing on their mind – candy! They may forget all of the lessons they’ve been taught about being safe around vehicles, so it is up to you to do the thinking for them. Here are some tips to help you out this Halloween.

1. Make Your Car Visible

The more visible your car, the less likely it is to be ignored by little ones. Hang a flashing LED light in the back window, think wedding and string some tin cans from your back bumper or turn your hazard lights on. Anything you can do to ensure that little ones will see your vehicle is a good idea.

2. Drive Even Slower

The speeds posted in a residential area are typically under 35 miles per hour, but you should drive even slower. Consider cutting your typical speed by 10 mph or more. Come to a virtual creep as you move through neighborhoods. Better yet, avoid driving down a residential street until after trick-or-treat is over if you can help it.

3. Avoid Distractions

Distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents throughout the nation. It can be an even bigger problem on Halloween. Don’t do anything behind the wheel that will take your attention away from the task at hand – driving. Keep your eyes focused on the road ahead and stay on the lookout for little ones.

4. Don’t Drink and Drive

Halloween isn’t just for children. The night is becoming the biggest holiday for adults. As such, you may find yourself attending a party or two. If you do, it’s fair to say that you may have a few adult beverages. Don’t drink and drive. Either spend the night where you are or arrange for a sober ride home.

5. Driveway Dangers

If you have to back out of your driveway, take a walk around your vehicle first. Look down the sidewalk and at the houses across the street. If you notice children in the area, be extra vigilant when backing out. A child can run behind your car without you noticing.

If you are involved in an accident in Charlotte on Halloween, reach out to our office. If the accident was someone else’s fault, we may be able to help you secure damages for medical bills, lost wages and more. Call today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. Our personal injury attorneys will review the details of your case and advise you of your legal options. Call now or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.

Are you afraid of Halloween? If you’re an adult, the chances are that you are actually looking forward to being scared. Halloween is the perfect holiday for harmless frights. The unfortunate truth is that not all frights are as harmless as you may believe. Some can be downright terrifying.

While many parents believe that the worst they have to fear is candy that has been tampered with, there are risks that are more substantial. Knowing what to look out for this Halloween can help keep you and your little ones safe. Here are some fears that are worth having this holiday and how you can avoid tragedy.

1. Slips and Falls

A slip and fall accident can happen at any time and for any reason. On Halloween night, the most common causes for slips and falls are too-long costumes and masks that inhibit vision. If your little one is dressing up and heading out for some candy, make sure that their costumes are short enough to not be tripped over. Face paint is always a safer option when compared to a mask.

2. Vehicles

You may have given your child lessons on looking both ways before they cross the street, but reiterate those lessons before trick-or-treating commences. Remind your little one that they should stay on the sidewalk at all times and should never cross the street on their own. Teach your child to look both ways before they cross and to never dart out from in between parked cars or other hazards.

3. Pumpkins

If you and your family will enjoy turning pumpkins into works of art, do so without a kitchen knife. When your hands are covered in pumpkin guts, they will be slippery. This can cause a knife to slip dangerously out of your grip and the blade to slice your fingers. There are special tools on the market that allow you to safely carve pumpkins. Alternatively, you can paint them or decorate them with paper and fabric.

4. Pets

Keep an eye on your pets during Halloween. They are often forgotten about during the rush of the holiday evening. If your pet is likely to be frightened by loud noises or by costumes worn by tiny humans, put them in a back room or in their crate. When your kids come in with the big candy haul, put the candy up and out of reach of snooping paws. Your dogs will be the better for it.

Halloween doesn’t have to be risky for you or your little ones. Use the tips above to stay safe. If you are ever involved in an accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, reach out to our experienced team of personal injury attorneys for assistance. We may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries. Call today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and let us tell you more about your legal options.

When a person is involved in a car accident, the immediate aftermath can be one of stress and anxiety, even fear. A car accident can be disorienting, and it may take a moment to gain control of your thoughts in such a way that you can react appropriately. If you have a child in the car with you, the moments following an accident can be even more stressful.

While children do die because of illness, they are far more likely to pass away as the result of a fatal injury such as that sustained in a vehicle accident. In fact, accidents of all types are the number one cause of childhood death in the United States. It’s important to know more about children and car accidents if you will be driving with little ones in tow.

1. Children are More Likely to be Injured

A child is more likely to be injured in a motor vehicle accident than an adult. Common injuries include chest and back injuries, organ injuries and head injuries. Head injuries are serious for any victim, but can be especially serious for young children whose brains are still developing. Children under the age of one were more likely to experience head injury than older children.

2. Injuries Are Not Always Apparent

When a child is involved in a car accident, they may be understandably shook up. As a parent, you’ve got to do your best to remain calm. Seek medical attention for your child even if they are not apparently injured. A head injury, more specifically a brain injury, is invisible.

If you believe that your child may have been injured, don’t remove them from the car. Let emergency responders handle that task. Moving an injured person of any age puts them at greater risk of permanent injury in the case of spinal or head injuries.

3. Children in Car Seats Can Be Injured

People hold the belief that children in car seats are less likely to be injured in a car accident. The truth of the matter is that a car seat may protect a child from several types of injury, but injury is still possible. Where your car was hit and the severity of the impact both factor in to whether or not your restrained child is injured and how serious the injury is.

If you and your child are involved in a car accident, call 911 immediately. A child may not be able to verbalize their injuries, and failing to seek medical attention can have devastating consequences.

When you are involved in a car accident in Charlotte, you have legal rights. If the other driver is found to be at fault, our attorneys can assist you in recovering any compensation you are entitled to. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your accident and advise you of your rights under current state law.

In 20 years, owning a regular car will be like owning a horse: cool, but an unusual mode of routine transportation. Sure, you’ll always have those who prefer driving themselves, but they will become a rarity. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, manually driving a car will soon be as unlikely as seeing a horse and carriage on a highway.

At least, that’s where innovators like Elon Musk think the world is headed, and for good reason. The interest in and production of autonomous (self-driven) vehicles has drastically increased in the past decade, and more car manufacturers are taking the plunge into self-driving technology. Musk has led the crusade with self-driving Teslas, but if the technology continues to improve, conventional manufacturers like Ford and Chevrolet and many others will soon have affordable, autonomous vehicles in their lineup as well.

In a recent TEDTalk interview, Musk covered a great many topics, including artificial intelligence and living on Mars. Part of that interview, however, was dedicated to the future of automobiles and, specifically, autonomous cars. Here’s in part what he had to say:

Autonomous Cars Doesn’t Mean Less Traffic

As it stands, public transportation is a vital necessity in big cities. Residents often don’t want to sit in traffic, and the risk of car accidents is enough to keep a lot of drivers off the road. But, when most cars are autonomous, Musk says traffic will be far worse. Why? Shared autonomous vehicles.

Think of it like Uber or Lyft, but without a driver. It’ll likely be much cheaper and more convenient to simply call an autonomous car to pick you up, rather than waiting on a bus. As such, more and more cars will be on the road at any given moment. And with more cars on the road comes more congestion.

Cars Must See Like Humans to Be Successfully Autonomous

As you can imagine, getting autonomous vehicles to actually detect obstacles like other cars, pedestrians, signs and traffic lights is quite a challenge.  Not only will they have to do those things, but they will have to do it as fast and as safely as a human driver. Musk has nearly perfected this aspect in one model of the Tesla. Rather than using laser guided technologies such as LIDAR, like Google uses in their self-driving cars, Tesla uses cameras and GPS to allow their cars to “see” similarly to how a human would.

This technology is called “passive optical.” It’s how humans see the world. RADAR is also used to assist in conditions like heavy rain or snow. Musk says that once vision is solved, autonomy is solved. He plans to prove the effectiveness of this technology by “driving” from Los Angeles to New York completely autonomously by the end of 2017.

Reliability Is the Key to the Market

Road trips are a good way to put the future of self-driving cars in perspective.  If you have had to drive a long distance, chances are you either took turns driving with a friend, stayed awake by drinking a lot of coffee or occasionally stopped for rest at some point along the way.  Being alert and well rested is definitely the safest way to drive. Staying alert and focused won’t be a problem in the future though, because you will be able to rest, relax or even work while your car does the heavy lifting and gets you safely to your destination in a timely manner.  

Musk says this reality is only a couple of years away. It’s a matter of changing the likelihood of a crash from 1 in a 1,000 to, “If you live a thousand lifetimes, there’s still a great chance you’ll never crash.” Of course, with manual cars on the road, being in a wreck that isn’t your fault is still a possibility. But when autonomous cars dominate the market, the likelihood of a wreck drops to practically zero.

So, When Will We Really Have an Autonomous Car?

The way Elon Musk sees it, is that in 10 years, all the cars produced will be autonomous. However, new vehicle production is only about 5 percent of the current fleet. Cars and trucks last about 15 to 20 years before being scrapped. So new vehicle production is only about 1/15th of all the cars on the road. Based on that figure, it will take an additional 5 to 10 years before a majority of the fleet become autonomous.  That means in 20 years there is a very real possibility that all vehicles will be fully autonomous.

Before that can become a reality, though, laws must adapt to autonomous cars. As of now, 21 states have some kind of legislation on the books regulating self-driving cars. In addition, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued new guidelines for the manufacturing of self-driving cars. These guidelines include:

  • Vehicle performance guidelines
  • Model state policy
  • NHTSA’s current regulatory tools
  • Possible new regulations as the technology develops

While owning an autonomous car may still seem like a leap into the world of science fiction, the technology will become a reality.  The future of self-driving cars will change many things in our day to day lives including how we travel and where and when we go. It’s simply now a matter of creating a vehicle that the market will transition from focusing on the owner’s experience of driving to the owner’s new role as only a passenger.  

Rachel blevins auger scholarhip winnerAuger & Auger is proud to announce that Rachel Blevins is one of the recipients of our Fall Semester Disabled Scholar Award, worth $1,000 each. These scholarships are presented twice a year to high-achieving students across America who have overcome their disability and achieved excellence in both the classroom and their community.

Rachel was born with a rare disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). This condition causes her skin to be very fragile; even the slightest trauma can cause blisters. During one such blistering episode as a newborn, the surface of Rachel’s eyes were damaged. As a result, she is visually impaired due to corneal scarring. Before she even reached kindergarten, she had 10 reconstructive surgeries to improve her mobility.

Yet, Rachel refuses to use these hardships as a tool to elicit sympathy from those around her. Rather, she reflects on these challenges to see the struggles she’s already overcome and how those experiences shape her goals. She’s always been a science-minded student. In elementary school, she won first place in state science fairs two years in a row.

Now, she plans to pursue a degree in psychology at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Though earning this degree will be a difficult venture, Rachel lives by the mantra that, “Quitters never win and winners never quit!” This ideal was instilled in her as a child by her parents, who Rachel says have been the most inspirational people in her life.

“My parents have always encouraged me to do my best and compete with my peers,” she says. Their faith in God has inspired me as well, I feel my life has a greater purpose and that God has a plan for me.”

Rachel says she’s also grateful for the doctors, therapists, teachers and others who have helped her succeed in life. It’s these people that have inspired her to get her degree in psychology, then pursue her master’s degree in counseling with a minor in American Sign Language. After she earns her degrees, she wants to work with vision-impaired students at a school like the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh.

Though Rachel has pushed through great adversity in her life, she has seen how her disability has affected how she’s viewed by society. But, she says, that view from society has shown her who her true friends are. Her relationships mean everything to her. She does hope, however, that our society as a whole can look on disabilities with kinder eyes.

“Those of us with disabilities are constantly judged, and first impressions are made based on our bandages, damaged skin, etc.,” she says. “If society could look beyond our disability, whatever it is, and see that we are just ordinary people, overcoming extraordinary obstacles to be contributing members of society, the world would be a better place.”

If you live in the beautiful states of North Carolina or South Carolina, there is a high probability that you have a car and use it to get around.  Whether it’s to work or taking your kids to school or soccer practice, getting around most of the cities and towns across the Carolinas is done by licensed drivers that have their own vehicle.  Sure there are options for people that don’t have their own transportation.  Car pooling, taxis and ride sharing applications make it possible for people to get around and if you are lucky enough to live in a city that has public transportation, that option may also work.  However, most of us drive and driving is a privilege, not a right and that is why it is so important to be a good driver and to always know the ramifications of poor driving decisions may result in the loss of your license.

Most states including the Carolinas use a point system to determine when someone’s license should be suspended or revoked.  Typically there is a threshold for how many points a driver can have before being penalized with the loss of their license.  Depending on your driving history and what you do behind the wheel of your car, losing your license can be for a short amount of time and in some serious cases some people can lost their license forever.  Besides impacting your actual legal ability to have a license to drive, points against your license can affect your car insurance rates and even your ability to get a job. Most people have the obvious desires to avoid accidents, and tickets but accidents and tickets aren’t just problems for your wallet or safety.   So many points on your license in a certain amount of time will very likely result in changes to your legal ability to have a license.

If you are fortunate enough to not have a driving record that has resulted in points on your license, you should be proud of that and you should try to keep up the good work.  Unfortunately many people can’t say that they have do not have any points are on their license. Many of those people do not even know the amount of points that they have accumulated. That can be very problematic if you are on the edge of having so many points that another incident or ticket will result in a suspension. If you are one of the many people that don’t know how many points are on your license, finding an up to date record is very easy, quick and it is free. All you need to know if your license number and other personal info such as your date of birth or social security number.

The following links will lead you to official state provided resources that will help you find out how many points are on your license:

North Carolina –  https://edmv.ncdot.gov/MyDMV/MyDMVAccount/Login

South Carolina – https://www.scdmvonline.com/Public/Authorization.aspx

Follow those links to the DMV for your state, follow the directions and log in to find out this very important information.  It is a good idea to check this info out from time because errors can occur and making sure that the information tied to your license is accurate is very important and can save you trouble in the long run.  Also knowing this information may motivate you to become a safer driver and there is nothing wrong with that.

Auger & Auger is an established law firm that limits its practice to serious motor vehicle accidents and personal injury matters.  If you or someone you know has been injured in North Carolina or South Carolina, please call toll free 1-800-559-5741.  A case evaluation will be provided to you at no cost.

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