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Tag: Central Texas

Photo shows a bridge/walkway leading into downtown Austin, with cars driving by and several pedestrians enjoying the view.
Austin is beautiful to explore, but if you’re driving you might find yourself, instead, looking at someone else’s bumper.

Anyone who lives in the Central Texas area is no stranger to traffic and construction delays. Whether it’s construction, rush hour, or a wind turbine blade stuck in an intersection (yes, it’s real), traffic is all but guaranteed to be slow.

But just how slow? Texas A&M Transportation Institute has released their annual report on Texas roads for 2018, featuring the most congested roads in the state. Here are some of the highlights in Austin.

The cost of congestion

It’s apparent traffic is a problem when it makes us late to work, but it is also a problem for pollution and a waste of resources.

In Austin alone, the report found a cumulative delay of 66 million hours and 24 million gallons of wasted fuel. That’s about 37 olympic-pools-worth of gas.

Our time sitting in traffic also adds up – a commuter who spends 45 minutes a day commuting spends the equivalent of 15.6 days in the car per year. And that’s just for work travel, alone.

Worst roads

A google map of Austin with IH-35 highlighted from Ben White Boulevard to 290 N. The route shows red and orange in the downtown area.
This stretch of IH-35 was determined the most congested road in Austin for 2018. This is a Google Map from non-peak hours, which still shows a slowdown at Lady Bird Lake.

At the top of the list for Austin’s most congested roads is IH-35 from US 290 N to Ben White Blvd, where the annual delay per mile is 1.3 million hours. This is the span of IH-35 that goes from North Loop through downtown and south of Lady Bird Lake.

Anyone who has been through downtown could probably tell you it’s the worst stretch of traffic in the city, but the extent of its congestion is mind-blowing.

It is followed by the next segment of IH-35 south, from Ben White to Slaughter Lane, where the annual delay is nearly 500,000 hours per mile.

For freight-related traffic, IH-35 in Austin is also the most congested in the entire state.

Other congestion

Honorable road congestion mentions include:

  • google map of MoPac in Austin
    MoPac from Texas Loop 1 to Highway 183.

The problem

Texas A&M Transportation Institute has gathered this data since 2010 to measure traffic and monitor roadway volume and speed data, in order to reduce gridlock in the state.

The institute, along with many other sources, attribute a rising population with worsening road congestion across the state. A survey in 2016 found that 83 percent of Austinites are unhappy with our driving conditions in the city.

Many solutions have been attempted, and failed, and no feasible alternative has been proposed. Without a solution in sight, the best thing Austin drivers can do is shoot for non-peak hours to travel or use public transportation as much as possible.

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distracted driving car accidentIn-car screens, often referred to as vehicle infotainment systems, are becoming a common built-in feature on most newer cars. Like many other devices, including cell phones, these are adding to driver distractions, and consequently leading to accidents.

The AAA Foundation conducted a study recently that showed while the technology is convenient in some ways, it results in some startling statistics related to distractions while driving.

No-texting law in the Lone Star State

The most commonly talked about distraction while driving is a cell phone. That’s why legislation was created in Texas, and other states, to address this issue. As of September 1, 2017 in Texas, it is against the law to text, read, or write messages on your phone while driving. This law refers to handheld communication devices and does not address the in-car systems.

As with any device, officials urge drivers to only focus on the road while operating a vehicle.

Greater chance of having a collision

In the past, AAA has conducted studies on driver distraction and discovered that if a driver stops focusing on the road for just two seconds, it can double the chance of having a car wreck.

The recent study found that when drivers use the in-car technology systems, they had more than 40 seconds of mental and visual distraction. And about 40 percent of drivers nationwide use these systems.

The study compared drivers using 30 different types of systems, including those that allowed web surfing and checking social media sites. Any of these can lead to a serious car accident.

No one wants to experience an accident caused by distracted driving. If you do get into an accident, AMM Collision is here to repair your car so you can safely get back on the road again.

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A person in a suit uses their smart phone on a white surface.
Do your research before going with the collision repair your insurance recommends.

After an accident, your insurance company may recommend an auto body repair shop for your repairs. Some may feel obligated to use the recommended shop, but the choice is always yours on which collision center you want to use. Here are some pointers on how to decide where you want to go.

Choose Certified

As you choose a body shop, remember that you want certified collision repair. This means the technicians at that repair shop have been trained by the manufacturers to make repairs to your specific model of vehicle.

Insurance guarantee

Choosing your insurance’s repair shop recommendation could have benefits. Some insurance companies will guarantee the repairs for as long as you own the vehicle. If there is an issue with the repairs, they will be fixed at no cost to you. This could be beneficial in the long run and shows your insurance company has confidence in their chosen repair shop.

Deciding on the recommendation

Most insurance providers have a list of preferred repair shops. Remember, your agent can’t make you use a shop on their list. You have the right to choose where you want your vehicle repaired.

Preferred repair shops normally meet criteria set up by the insurance provider, such as meeting their quick deadlines for repair and providing the services at a low cost. Efficient repairs should still maintain quality, and faster does not always mean the work is performed correctly.

If you choose to use the insurance recommendation, ask if that shop uses less expensive parts or parts from the manufacturer. Manufacturer parts (or OEM parts) often fit and work better than aftermarket parts, and therefore have a better chance of having your repair last. Some shops may cut costs by using cheaper parts because of low payments from insurance companies.

AMM Collision is a preferred body shop with most insurance companies, but we work with any insurance provider. At all of our auto body repair shops, we use manufacturer recommended parts for the highest quality repairs. Contact our team for a free estimate or download our estimating tool on your smartphone for a quick and easy process that will get you back on the road.

 

A man sits in his vehicle behind the wheel, looking at his smartphone.
Texas’ no-text law makes texting and driving illegal.

Texas implemented a state no-text law for drivers in September 2017. While many counties already had cell phone bans, this new law bans reading and writing text communications across the state.

For some, it is an adjustment to wait to text or use hands-free devices, which is why we’re providing some tips.

Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.

Out of sight, out of mind

If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a message, it is time to kick the habit. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Either put it in the glove box on silent, or put your phone on airplane mode so you can’t receive messages. Removing the temptation from your immediate reach will encourage you to wait until later to check your phone.

Mount your phone, but don’t touch it when moving

Though it’d be ideal to turn your phone off or put it out of sight, some people use their phones for navigation or screening calls. For this, we recommend a magnetic dash mount for your phone, placed in a spot that’s close to your line of vision. This way, even if you need to look at your phone for navigation, you aren’t taking your eyes far off the road.

Your message alerts will still pop up if you’re using your phone or navigation features, however. Some phones have the option to turn off alerts for specific apps. If you’re most tempted by your messaging app, turn off the alerts when you’re about to drive.

Know the law

City ordinances that were in effect prior to the state law are still enforced, including hands-free ordinances. Invest in a Bluetooth device if your car is not equipped with this feature. This will allow you to talk and also send messages through a voice-to-text app or feature on your phone.

With the no-text law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice-activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.

The no-text law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped, but once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down. If an officer sees a driver in motion with their head looking down, or the car not maintaining a lane, the officer can pull the car over.

Texting and driving accidents can be prevented. Share these tips with other Texas drivers and make our roads safer.

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A technician looks under a lifted vehicle.
Have a professional auto body tech look at the used car you want before you buy. They can spot lingering flood damage.

The Texas Hill Country has seen more than its share of “100-year” floods in the past 5 years. Some cars were severely damaged from the flooding. When it comes time to replace their vehicles, car owners need to do their homework. You want to be sure the car wasn’t damaged by a flood, then repaired just enough to pass inspection so it could be sold.

If this happens to a vehicle, there is no guarantee the quick repairs were made correctly by a certified auto technician who is highly trained by auto makers to repair that specific model of vehicle. Most newer vehicles are entirely computerized in function and if a car was immersed in water for a period of time, it can do far more extensive damage than what is immediately noticeable.

Know the history of the vehicle

The car’s history may possibly tell you if the car was flooded. Vehicles that are totaled after a flood are issued flood or salvage titles. If the car was repaired to pass inspection and sell, it may have a rebuilt title. But the title may not give you the complete details you need to be confident of a used car purchase.

It is a good idea to have a used car inspected by a certified auto technician to determine the complete extent of vehicle damage.

Get a pre-owned car inspected

Unlike most collision damage, flood damage is not always visible. Mechanical components and the electrical system should be looked at by a highly skilled technician. Just because parts turn on or appear to operate, they may actually have damage. The undercarriage and engine need to be inspected as well to guarantee that it is properly working.

There is a lot of ground to cover on Texas roads. Naturally, there are going to be a lot of accidents in such a big state.

In 2016, there was a death toll of 3,794 in Texas car crashes, and around 14,000 serious injury crashes. That’s the equivalent of one person killed every two hours, and one injury every 2 minutes during the year of 2016.

With so many cars on the roads in this area, accidents will happen. Some of the reasons for collisions may not come as a surprise.

Collision in Central Texas

There are a number of causes for accidents and weather can always be a contributing factor. While some might think that speed is one of the top reasons for collisions in Harris County, there were 1,573 speed related accidents last year. DUI accidents were slightly higher with 2,941 crashes in 2016.

Distracted driving was one of the main causes, with 14,804 wrecks in Harris County last year. Failure to pay attention is the second highest factor for collisions in Texas’ urban areas. This can be texting while driving, talking on the phone, or any other type of distraction. Bexar County, or the San Antonio area, had the most distracted driving accidents with more than 26,000.

Steps to take after a collision

After an accident, assess if you have any injuries, and if you can safely get out of the vehicle. If you, your passengers, or anyone else involved in the accident has injuries, call 9-1-1 immediately. Law enforcement must be notified if there are injuries, deaths, or property damages. Exchange insurance and contact information with other drivers.

If your car isn’t drivable, you will have to call for a tow truck to transport your vehicle. Some collision repair shops will arrange this directly if you call them first.

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