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Archive for category: Automobile Safety and Insurance

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Be Prepared on the Road

While driving is usually simply an adventure of fighting traffic to get from point A to point B, sometimes circumstances beyond our control can get in the way.  Weather conditions, breakdowns, accidents and more can leave you stranded at the side of the road.  As a driver it’s important to be prepared for these situations by having emergency items in your vehicle at all times.  Many kits can be purchased online and at local retailers, or you can create your own emergency car kit, but ensuring you have these basic items in your trunk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more helpful tools visit our Printable Resources Page.

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Ontario’s Auto Insurance Industry Needs More Than a Quick Pit Stop!

Though recent stats show Ontario’s rate of injury and fatality due to motor vehicle accidents are some of the lowest in the country, Ontario drivers are paying the highest rates of insurance in the country.  With high premiums you would think the benefits are the best possible, right?  Wrong.  As previously discussed in our post, The Government Gets it Wrong– AGAIN, premiums may be on the rise, but accident benefits have been cut once again.  A recent government report by David Marshall discusses these and other flaws in Ontario’s substandard auto insurance industry and provides recommendations on how it can improve.  Learn more about this report and its findings in the following Editorial from the Toronto Star.

The Toronto Star:  Time to fix Ontario’s broken auto insurance system

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Wash Your Car – Save a Life!

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Previously posted February 2014

Working in auto insurance makes me slightly paranoid about issues of vehicle safety.  Ideally, it would be great if car accidents could become extinct and people could go about their business without running the risk of becoming injured in their travels, but currently these remain one of the main causes of adult and child injury, death and disability.  May is National Car Care Month and maximizing car safety should be on the top of everyone’s list year-round.

Years ago, in the middle of winter, I was driving home from seeing a client at night.  I was on back roads that were not lit.  My headlights were on, but I could barely see the road in front of me.  I struggled with this, assuming I had a headlight out, and managed to get to a gas station.  There, I investigated the problem and realized my headlights were just covered in the road sludge so common in Ontario winters.  I cleaned up my headlights with a window squeegee and voila!  I could see again

Prior to this, the thought of washing my headlights never occurred to me.  Why would it?  Unless you encounter a problem, this is not something I remember being taught in driver’s ed, nor something my parents mentioned to look for as I was learning to drive.  Some things we just learn in life the hard way – hoping to not be hurt in the process.

I remember when cars started to be manufactured to have headlights on automatically and all the time.  I said to my brother “I don’t get why headlights should be on during the day, they won’t help a driver to see better” and he responded with “it is so other people can see you better”, I am sure adding a brotherly “dummy” in there too.

The other day I was reminded of these lessons again.  It was a sunny day, but the roads had been a mess a few days prior.  I was driving in the right lane and needed to change into the left lane to make an upcoming left turn.  I glanced in my dirty side mirror and my rear mirror which was looking out my dirty back window, and I didn’t see anyone.  I checked my side mirror again, and noticed something that looked odd.  I focused more clearly and realized that there was another car to the left of me after all.  This was a black car, covered in the grey muck from the roads.  The lights weren’t on, and what struck me was how much this car was essentially the color of the road.   The road was a grey, dirt covered mess, and this car blended right in.  Had the lights been on, or the car clean, I would have spotted this easily.

Really, both these issues with visibility when driving – to see and be seen – could be tackled with a simple car wash.  Even if this seems futile with changing weather conditions, the short-term benefits are immense.  A clean car is easier for others to see, gives you better visibility when the windows and side mirrors are clear, and washes your headlights to make sure these are most effective.  Besides, of course, the other benefits of washing road salt and dirt from your paint job.  Many gas stations have a quick car wash adjacent to the pump, and allow you to pay at the pump for convenience.  Or, some car washes are even a drive-thru format and you don’t even have to leave your car.  In the end, when it comes to road and driving safety, the added expense of giving your car a rinse could be “priceless”.

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The Role of Occupational Therapy in Trauma Recovery

Guest Blogger: Carolyn Rocca, Student Occupational Therapist, 2017

Motor vehicle accidents account for countless injuries annually and are one of the most common traumas individuals experience. Trauma can be understood as one’s unique experience of an extremely stressful event or enduring conditions that overwhelms their ability to cope. These experiences can often disconnect us from our sense of safety, resourcefulness, and coping. As a result, survivors of severe and traumatic motor vehicle accidents are at increased risk for experiencing mental health difficulties, with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety being the most common.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can follow a traumatic event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury, or threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others. Although every individual experiences PTSD differently, following a motor vehicle accident PTSD symptoms can involve:

·       Psychologically re-experiencing the trauma through distressing thoughts or dreams about the accident,

·       Avoidance of thoughts or situations associated with the accident, including a reluctance to return to driving,

·       Extremes in emotional responsiveness, by either having greatly reduced or heightened emotions, and

·       Increased physical arousal, such as hypervigilance, exaggerated startle, irritability, and disturbed sleep (Beck & Coffey, 2007).

The symptoms associated with PTSD can leave individuals to feel emotionally, cognitively, and physically overwhelmed. Naturally, this can result in difficulties in one’s daily functioning, including one’s ability to care for themselves and others, as well as their ability to successfully engage in their life roles of being a spouse, parent, employee, student, or volunteer, to name a few. For these reasons it is recommended that those experiencing PTSD seek help from a team of healthcare providers and consider occupational therapy.

Using a trauma-informed care approach, occupational therapists can support clients through the following three Phases of Trauma Recovery:

Phase I – Safety-stabilization:

Since trauma often results in a sense of helplessness, isolation, and loss of control, the aim is to restore a sense of safety and empowerment. Following trauma, creating a sense of safety is the foundation of one’s recovery process.

The first step to building and creating safety is to first identify things that help us feel safer. Occupational therapists can help their clients to identify objects that bring about a personal sense of safety and imbed them into their daily routines. These safety objects may include: special people such as a trusted friend, engaging in certain activities like looking at photographs or making crafts, or being in a certain place, such as being outdoors in the sunlight.

Occupational therapists can also assist in establishing safety through practices such as meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and Thai chi, as these approaches have been shown to be effective at decreasing stress and soothing the nervous system (Manitoba Trauma Information & Education Centre, 2013).

Phase 2 – Remembrance and Mourning:

A traumatic event like a motor vehicle accident is often associated with a form of loss. One might feel they have lost their independence, sense of identity, or purpose following a car accident.

Counselors and occupational therapists are well-equipped to guide individuals on their recovery by allowing them time to grieve and morn their own personal losses. This is often achieved through individual or group-based therapy by processing the trauma, putting words and emotions to it, and making meaning of it.

Phase 3 – Reintegration:

The goal of the third stage of recovery is that the person affected by trauma recognizes the impact of their experience but is now ready to take concrete steps towards a lifestyle that is no longer controlled by the trauma. Recovery and reintegration will look different for everyone, but often involves resuming important life roles and responsibilities, and returning to a lifestyle that is meaningful to them.

Occupational therapists can assist during this phase of recovery by supporting their clients in re-establishing healthy routines, building strong support systems, learning and practicing coping strategies during their day to day activities, and gradually increasing their exposure to anxiety provoking triggers, ultimately enabling them to reintegrate into their communities and preferred lifestyles.

For more information about PTSD, trauma informed care, and how healthcare professionals can support someone following trauma, be sure to take a look at the Trauma Toolkit or call an Occupational Therapist to start the process of recovery.

 

References & Resources:

Beck, J. G., & Coffey, S. F. (2007). Assessment and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder after a motor vehicle collision: Empirical findings and clinical observations. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38(6), 629.

Manitoba Trauma Information & Education Centre (2013). Retrieved from http://trauma-recovery.ca/

The Trauma Toolkit: A resource for service organizations and providers to deliver services that are trauma-informed (2013). Retrieved from http://trauma-informed.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Trauma-informed_Toolkit.pdf

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Scary Study on Texting and Driving

Results from an ongoing study on texting and driving by the Sudbury District Health Unit and Laurentian University have produced scary results, but researchers are optimistic these results put them closer to improving strategies to reduce this dangerous behaviour.  Research shows: “They admit to doing it, but they feel bad about doing it, they know it’s wrong and they don’t feel safe when someone else is texting and driving. Learning that information gives us a bit of leverage to empower passengers to stand up and say, ‘No, this is wrong,’ against their peers.”  Learn more about this research and the ongoing efforts to reduce texting and driving in the following article from the Sudbury Star.

The Sudbury Star:  Sudbury researchers target distracted driving

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Recognizing Psychological Tramua in Kids Following An Accident

As Occupational Therapists we use a holistic approach to help our clients.  After an accident we assess and treat not only the physical effects, but the emotional impact such a traumatic experience can have on one’s life.  The following article by Roger Foisy, a Canadian Personal Injury Lawyer, discusses how approximately “15-25% of children involved in car accidents show symptoms of depression that remain even months after the accident.”  Take a look at the article to learn how to recognize the signs and some great ways to help children cope after the traumatic experience of a car accident.

Roger Foisy:   Helping Children Overcome Psychological Trauma after Car Accidents

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Promoting Safe Driving In Older Adults

In our previous blog, Senior Safety– Occupational Therapy Can Help!, we included information on how there are now almost 6 million seniors over age 65.  With this growing population, how can we ensure older adults are safe, secure, and maintain independence, especially on the road?

Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the driving population. Driving helps older adults remain mobile and independent in their community. This form of transportation provides the most convenient means to access the places and people that are important to them. Unfortunately, as seniors grow older they are more likely to experience age and health-related changes that can impact their medical fitness to drive.  However, not every senior is affected; hence, understanding the impact on functional abilities, rather than age, is key to preventing crashes and injuries.

Occupational Therapy can help seniors who drive by:

·        Educating seniors and family members on proper driving techniques

·        Assisting them to properly “fit” their vehicles. Ensure you have a clear line of sight over the steering wheel

·        Creating solutions to barriers through developing programs to improve safe driving

·        Consult on different forms of transportation

·        Recommend adaptive equipment to enhance your driving habits

Driving is an important part of mobility and independence for Canadian seniors.  Entwistle Power and McMaster University partnered together this past spring to host a CarFit event that was aimed at educating seniors about their personal vehicles.

What is CarFit?

CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults safety information along with the opportunity to verify how well their personal vehicles “fit” them and their needs. The event consists of 12 stations which will assist older adults to learn how well their vehicle fits them and their needs.

The Carfit program was designed to:

·        Promote continued safe driving and mobility among older drivers through education not evaluation

·        Create an open environment that promotes conversations about driving

·        Provide information, education and community based resources to older drivers in a quick and easily accessible manner.

Why do we need CarFit?

CarFit programs help drivers assess and adjust their seat position, mirrors, head restraints, and controls. Many people buy cars, and just jump in and drive off. Most often, they do not and are unaware of how to adjust all the safety features to their maximum effectiveness. With the technological advances of the automotive industry, automakers have been making strides to designing vehicles that are beneficial for older adults. Designing controls with larger buttons, blind spot detection systems, rear – backup cameras, lane departure warning systems have all had a profound impact on the safety and convenience of technology for senior drivers. However, with some design changes, they’ve created smaller windows, thicker windshields and roof pillars, which limit a senior’s visibility. Complicated technology control systems can be distracting or difficult to use and may be distracting. With older adults representing the fastest growing population of drivers, it’s important to understand the proper fit of vehicles to promote safety for older drivers.  CarFit helps to provide education and strategies on how to achieve the safest fit.

CarFit is a community-based program which consists of working through a 12-item checklist to provide participants with information about on how well they and their car work together. These stations include tips on the following:

·        Proper use of seat belt

·        Position of steering wheel tilt/ head restraint

·        Proper distance between chest and steering wheel

·        A clear line of sight above steering wheel

·        Proper positioning to gas pedal

·        Proper positioning to the brake pedal

·        Adjusting mirrors

·        Appropriate Neck mobility to check blind spots

·        Safe use of ignition key

·        Operation of vehicle controls

·        Overall use of the vehicle

Does your vehicle fit you?  What can you do?

Finding out if you have the proper fit for your vehicle is essential for both your safety and the safety of others around you.  Do you have a clear view out your window? Can you reach and manage all of your controls? Is your seatbelt secure and properly fitted? Making these small adjustments can provide a huge impact through improving your comfort, control and confidence behind the wheel!

During our CarFit event, we provided education to help twelve older adults adjust their vehicles to their own unique needs. Participants left with:

·        Recommendations on car adjustment and adaptations

·        Education on the benefits of occupational therapy

·        Information regarding local resources and assistive equipment

This was the first CarFit event hosted in Hamilton, Ontario. While much was involved with hosting the event and getting things organized, our participants expressed satisfaction with being part of this experience – we hope we have started a tradition!

Interested in learning more?

If you or someone you know is interested in attending a CarFit event in the future, you can:

·         Visit CAOT’s CarFit Page, or contact your nearest CAA store for future CarFit event listings

·         Connect with us on Social Media, and keep an eye out for topics related to older adults

·         Explore www.candrive.ca for driving research and resources for older adults

·         Phone Entwistle Power Occupational Therapy at 1-866-683-0345 or email us to inquire about our occupational therapy services that can support you and/or your loved ones to age well.

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Mean Lady at the Bus Stop

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Yup, that is me.  That mom at the bus stop that, while waiting for my kids to board the bus, ends up supervising and “parenting” the other kids that are not behaving.  I remember a few years back I was waiting for the bus with my daughter.  There were several kids waiting with us, and a few parents.  Three boys were first in line, standing on the curb.  They were pushing, shoving and playing around as boys do, each time falling or running onto the road.  I told them to stop what they were doing, stand in line properly and patiently wait for the bus.  My neighbor called me a meanie.

I am happy to be a meanie when it comes to safety, especially with children.  Part of this is the curse of working in auto insurance.  I know if one of these boys gets hit by a passing car, this could be life threatening or at the least, life altering.  I also know the driver of that car will likely suffer life-long mental anguish knowing they inadvertently harmed a child – even if this was not their fault.  Also, my child, and the other children at the bus stop that would witness such an accident would never be the same.  They could have nightmares, flashbacks, and suffer from traffic anxiety, an aversion to riding the bus, or attending school.  Lastly, from a personal liability perspective, I can’t help thinking that if children are being unsafe, and get injured, and this is witnessed by a responsible adult who did not try to prevent it, that adult could be held partially responsible.  Either way, the outcome is bad for all involved.

Transportation by bus is one of the safest ways to get children to and from school.  According to transport Canada, only .3 percent of personal injury or death from collisions involved school buses.  Of the 142 deaths involving a school bus over the last 10 years, only 5 have involved passengers of the bus with the rest being drivers, pedestrians, cyclists or other motorists.  Therefore, children are more unsafe around buses than they are in buses.  In fact, riding the bus is safer than walking or getting a ride in a regular vehicle.  What becomes key then is helping children to understand pedestrian safety, the rules for getting on an off a bus, and waiting at the bus stop.

It is back to school time.  We all need to remember that children are both careless and carefree.  Children are not expected to understand and process the dangers of traffic until age 10 and beyond, and as such, as responsible adults and parents we need to help them understand all aspects of bus safety and, if needed, be “meanies” when monitoring their behavior – even if they don’t belong to us.

Previously posted August 26, 2013
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Personal Injury Advertising – A Picture is Worth….

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I was recently at a stoplight in Hamilton, stuck behind three busses spanning three of the four lanes in front of me.  All three were covered in ads for three different law firms, all personal injury.  Drive another block and there are anywhere between four to eight billboards again advertising personal injury services.  Some are soft, subtle and warm.  Others are creative, catchy and cleaver.  Then there are those that are more fear-mongering, “in your face”, and aggressive.  Whatever the style, message or format, clearly these ads represent the culture of the advertising firm, leaving the “buyer” to choose the approach that best might meet their needs.

Now the focus of this blog is to not bash the way lawyer advertising has evolved.  If signs in parking garages, washrooms, bars, hospitals, or on busses, benches and billboards work, go for it.   Lawyers are intelligent people, if the ROI on these investments is not paying off, I assume they would find an alternative.  However, I do know that within their own community, through events I have attended and articles I have read, that many firms are being criticized for the approach they are taking with the more aggressive “you don’t pay until we win” mentality.  Also, the fear-mongering approach directed at a population of vulnerable and often disadvantaged people can be viewed by many as distasteful.  Honestly, I think the public are becoming somewhat desensitized to the vast number of ads marketing the same thing and the more these ads surface, the less impactful they become.  But as a business owner, I can understand the intense competition in the industry and respect any professional who invests in their business, or themselves, to make a buck.

Where I think these ads need to improve, however, is in the representation of people with disabilities.  Some ads get this perfectly.  They show everyday survivors (presumably “real” past clients) doing the things they love, or “living” after their tragedy.  That, to me, hits the nail on the head.  Others though use images that are transparently “fake” and confuse the message.  Taking a photo of a fit, young(ish) person in Lululemon clothing who looks like they are ready for the Paralympics but is sitting in a clunker wheelchair from the 70’s just doesn’t jive.  The image is flawed and the message is lost.

As an advocate for people with disabilities, I would like to see a movement of “real” people with “real” disabilities center-stage for these ads, and in any ad for that matter, that is trying to represent this population.  Why?  Because it is easy for a non-disabled person to sit in a wheelchair for a photo, but the reverse is not true in that a person who actually uses a wheelchair cannot just “stand-up” to pose as a “non-disabled person” for a photo shoot.  So, let’s give the money spent on stock-photos, modeling and the resulting income to the population of people that “live” these problems, not to regular people who don’t truly represent.

And yes, I am guilty of this as well.  In searching for website stock photos we found several where the person in a wheelchair is standing in the next image.  Or, the one where you see the back of my husband sitting in a wheelchair to capture the image of a once real, but now needed-to-be-simulated, client-Julie interaction.

In searching for a way to better support the community of disabled persons, and to ensure the photos we use in our own media align with “real” people, we came across these sites which sell “true” stock images:

Lawyers working in personal injury – I hope you will join the movement to improve the representation of “disabled people” in your ads to, if nothing else, better support that community financially, realistically and appropriately in your advertising.