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Signs You Need An Injury Lawyer

Signs You Need An Injury Lawyer

f you’ve been seriously injured, you know that it can be a stressful and complicated experience. Inevitably, you’ll be dealing with medical appointments and the bills that come with them, possible time missed from work, pain, suffering and the possibility that returning to “normal” life is never an option again.

Personal injuries are common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are 92.2 million physician office visits for injuries a year and 41.6 million trips to emergency departments for injuries. When your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, another consideration must be addressed: whether or not you should file a lawsuit.

A personal injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation for the wrongful acts of others. A Birmingham personal injury law firm like PDH will offer a free consultation, so you can see if a case is worth pursuing. Here are five signs you should, at the very least, get a consultation because you may have a viable personal injury claim.

1. Your Injuries Are Serious

What is considered a serious injury? If you have gone through any of the following, you’ve experienced a serious injury.

  • You had to receive emergency treatment
  • You stayed at a hospital
  • Your injury required more than one doctor’s visit to treat
  • Your injury resulted in long-term disability, loss of a limb, etc.
  • Your injury will require some kind of treatment for the rest of your life

If your injury was caused by the negligence of another person, it’s time to contact an attorney.

2. There is Evidence to Support Your Claim

Evidence is a critical component for successful serious personal injury cases. The types of evidence that can be beneficial in a personal injury case include:

  • A negligent driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they caused a car accident
  • A product was defective, whether it was an exploding phone that blew up in your face or an airbag that failed to deploy
  • After the accident that caused a personal injury, you took photos or videos that show factors that can help prove negligence

The statements from witnesses of the accident are extremely helpful. It is crucial to file a police report after an accident resulting in personal injury. The police report will record all of the details and can be used for your case.

3. The Insurance Companies Are Less Than Helpful

Insurance companies are often difficult to deal with. They may offer you a low-ball settlement or may deny your claim altogether. Insurance companies are in business to make money, not to help victims. If the insurance company offers you a low offer, is unresponsive or denies your claim, an attorney can help.

Ideally, you should contact a personal injury law firm before contacting the at fault parties insurance company. Many times insurance companies will bombard a victim with questions in an attempt to trick them into misstating facts about the accident or even admitting erroneously admitting fault. Personal injury lawyers are adept in dealing with insurance companies, can help negotiate your settlement and prevent you from incriminating yourself.

4. Expert Witnesses Are Necessary

Testimony from expert witnesses can help some personal injury cases. For example, some types of personal injuries occur due to medical malpractice, when a physician’s negligence causes serious injuries that may be life-threatening. In cases like these, a medical expert witness can provide expert testimony that helps explain why the physician was negligent.

When you’re facing someone who caused your injury, but you’re unable to fully understand or explain why a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in cases like yours will be able to call on the right witness connections to help your case.

5. Multiple Parties Are Involved

When you’re dealing with more than one party in a personal injury case, like a car accident with multiple drivers, for example, everyone’s liability may be called into question by various parties. These types of cases may make liability unclear and will mean that gathering witness statements, evidence and possibly expert witness testimony is necessary.

To protect yourself from being accused of being negligent by other parties, when you’re really not to blame, and to go after the appropriate negligent party, you can work with a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers have experience in cases with multiple parties and will work in your best interest.

Contingency Fees Protect Your Finances

Pittman, Dutton & Hellums works on a contingency basis. This means our law firm will only take on a personal injury case they believe can be won. We’re only paid if your case wins, as well.

You have nothing to lose by contacting a personal injury lawyer for a consultation. The statute of limitation limits the time frame in which you can file a claim, so it’s best to contact one sooner than later.If you or a loved one has been in an accident our Birmingham accident attorneys will fight for your best interests and will take your case to trial if necessary, please PDH at (205) 900-4188.

What to Do When a Pedestrian Causes Your Car Accident

What to Do When a Pedestrian Causes Your Car Accident

Pedestrians usually have the right-of-way on roads, but there are several instances where a pedestrian could be the cause of a serious car accident you’re involved in. Such times include:

A pedestrian runs out into oncoming traffic where there is no crosswalk.

A pedestrian enters a crosswalk when there is a “do not walk” signal, not a “walk” signal.

A pedestrian crosses the road at an unmarked location, when there’s a crosswalk or working crossing signal close by.

A pedestrian crosses an intersection diagonally when there is no traffic control sign directing them to.

A pedestrian is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs while walking on a road.

A pedestrian is walking on the road even though there’s a sidewalk available to walk on.

Pedestrians pose a serious danger to themselves when they don’t follow traffic laws. In 2017, pedestrian fatalities reached a 25-year high, with nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there were nearly 130,000 pedestrians who received medical help in emergency rooms for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2015. Alabama has the eighth-highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in the country. Most pedestrian deaths occur at night, in non-intersection locations and in urban areas.

When a motorist tries to avoid a pedestrian who is breaking the law, the driver could cause harm to themselves or another motorist, all in an attempt to avoid a pedestrian.

If you are involved in a car accident where the pedestrian caused the accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries, time missed off work, car repairs and more. Here’s what you should know about what to do when a pedestrian causes your car accident.

What to Do When a Pedestrian Causes Your Car AccidentAt the Accident Scene

Whether you hit a pedestrian or swerve to avoid one and end up causing a car accident, you must stay at the scene of the car accident and wait for police to arrive. If the pedestrian is attempting to flee, do not chase after them, because you’d be leaving the scene of the accident. There might be other parties who are potentially injured, as well.

Try to take a photo of the pedestrian immediately after the accident and observe identifying characteristics of the pedestrian, like height and clothes. Note the direction they are heading in, and call police immediately.

If there are other witnesses at the scene, such as motorists who have stopped at the accident, ask them to remain at the scene until police come so they can provide an account of what happened. At the very least, get their contact information in case your legal team needs to contact them in the future.

Be honest to police about what caused the accident. Carefully detail what the pedestrian was doing and how they contributed to the accident. Tell police where the pedestrian headed if they left.

If the pedestrian is still at the scene, get their full name, phone number, email address and insurance information. Take their photo, as well.

You should also document the scene of the accident. Shoot photos of your car and any other cars involved in the accident. Take photos of your injuries. Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver(s). Make sure any other parties involved with the accident talk to police about their account of how the pedestrian caused the accident, too.

Get medical treatment. Your shock from the accident may lead you to believe you are injury-free, but there are many injuries that might not be immediately apparent that you may have experienced. You should get emergency treatment and go to a hospital if needed, or at the very least head to urgent care to get checked out. If you don’t do so and experience painful symptoms later, another party could claim that something other than the car accident caused your injury.

What to Do When a Pedestrian Causes Your Car AccidentAfter the Accident

If a pedestrian caused your car accident, you should consult with a Birmingham car accident attorney right away. It may be in your best interest to file a lawsuit against the pedestrian because their negligent behavior put you and the lives of other motorists in danger.

Create a binder where you store your evidence, medical files, a copy of the police report and documentation of your injury progression. An Alabama car accident lawyer who is versed in motorist rights and laws pedestrians must follow may be able to help you piece together a case that protects you and your finances in this distressing time.

Even though you were the one in the massive machine of a car, pedestrians must obey traffic laws that keep communities safe. Do not hesitate to contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation on your case and how we may be able to help. Call (866) 722-0250, call or text (205) 900-4188, or contact us online for information.

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Car Accident

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Car Accident

When you’re in any type of car accident, you probably know the drill: stay at the scene, exchange insurance information, get contact details and license plate numbers, and in the case of an injury or death, call the police. Filing a police report in any car accident is a good idea, anyway, so that you have documentation about what exactly happened, since you might have injuries that aren’t immediately apparent.

Taking these steps after a car accident doesn’t just help to ensure you get the compensation you deserve from an insurance agency and provide you with helpful documents you’ll need if you decide to pursue a car accident claim. Doing so is also required by law. Drivers involved in accidents that result in injuries or death must:

Stop their vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so

Check on all drivers and passengers

Stay at the scene immediately after the accident occurs

Provide basic first aid and/or get emergency medical help for anyone in need

Call police and wait for them to arrive

Exchange information

Identify and talk to witnesses

Contact insurance companies

When a driver leaves the scene of a serious car accident, they’re now the offending party in a hit-and-run accident. Drivers might flee the scene of an accident for reasons including a lack of a driver’s license or insurance, the fact that they’re intoxicated, because they’re driving on a suspended license, or because the vehicle they’re driving is not theirs.

Fight the urge to chase after them, since that means you’re leaving the scene of the accident, as well. Here’s what to do when you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident.

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Car AccidentCall Police

Police have fast emergency vehicles and the means to piece together clues to find the person who hit you and ran. You should contact police so they can:

File a police report with your side of the story of how the accident happened

Talk to witnesses who may have seen what the other driver looked like or what the license plate number was, or who will be able to provide identifying details about the driver’s car and what happened during the accident

Match up any details that are provided with individuals or cars police have on file

A police report with this information will help you when you report the accident to your insurance company. In cases where the other vehicle or driver is identified, you can use the police report if you decide to file a lawsuit against the other driver.

If you leave the scene of the accident, too, you’ll also be breaking the law. It will be harder to capture details that can help your case after the fact, and police will wonder why you left.

Even if the damage to your vehicle is minor, you should still contact police. They will be able to tell you that the damage is too minor to report, and you can gather the officer’s name, phone number and badge number so you can provide that to your insurance company.

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Car AccidentGather Witness Information

Police can gather witness information, but while you’re waiting for police to arrive, you should also get the names and contact information of all witnesses yourself, as well.

Some witnesses might want to leave the scene themselves. If a witness is going to leave, ask them to write down a statement of what happened during the accident and sign it. Your insurance company and/or Birmingham car accident attorney can contact them for more information.

Document the Scene

Again, in addition to getting a police report, gathering evidence is important. Shoot photos or videos of the damage to your vehicle and your injury. If you are able to snap a photo of the other vehicle before it speeds away, that might be helpful.

You should also write down everything you remember about the vehicle and keep those notes in addition to the police report.

Get Medical Treatment

As we’ve covered, when you don’t visit a doctor after a car accident, and it turns out you were injured, another party can claim that your injury was caused by something other than the car accident. You should get medical treatment so that you don’t exacerbate your injury and so that you get the medical coverage for your accident that you are entitled to.

Keep organized records of all medical treatments and how your injury progresses. These are vital documents should decide to file a car accident claim.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney If the Offender Is Found

If you receive word that the other driver in your accident has been located by police, consult with a car accident attorney about next steps. A motorist who is found guilty in a hit-and-run accident will likely need to pay for damages to the other party, which would be you, the victim.

If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident and want to pursue legal action against a party that has been identified, contact the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums car accident attorney team for a free consultation.

Has The 11th Circ. Become Consumer-Friendly?

Austin Whitten Pittman, Dutton & HellumsLast week, this expert opinion article written by Pittman, Dutton & Hellums attorney Austin Whitten was featured by Law360, a national, prestigious legal publication.

The answer to the question posed by the headline is probably still a resounding “no” in most areas of the law. However, recent case law suggests that the Eleventh Circuit is arguably the most favorable venue for plaintiffs with consumer protection lawsuits that are based on statutory violations where no “actual” damages are alleged.

As most folks in the class-action arena are aware by now, complaints filed for alleged statutory violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, and Video Privacy Protection Act, among others, are now routinely being met with motions to dismiss for lack of Article III standing. Specifically, defendants argue that the plaintiff(s) fails to allege any “concrete injury” suffered due to the statutory violations. This tactic has become popular since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Spokeo Inc. v. Robin[1] in 2016.

In Spokeo, the plaintiff alleged violations of the FCRA by the defendant but no actual damages in addition to the violation of the statute. The Supreme Court restated that Article III standing requires an injury-in-fact that is both concrete and particularized, and the court held that the Ninth Circuit had failed to thoroughly analyze the concreteness of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries. The court went on to clarify that the term “concrete” means “‘real,’ and not ‘abstract,’” but also that an injury does not have to be tangible to be concrete and that “Congress may ‘elevat[e] to the status of legally cognizable injuries concrete, de facto injuries that were previously inadequate in law.’”[2] Since then, there has been little uniformity in the application of Spokeo and many district and circuit courts across the country have agreed with defendants’ arguments and affirmed dismissal of the consumers’ complaints.

On Oct. 3, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit took another crack at interpreting and applying Spokeo in Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier Inc.[3] In its opinion, the court left little doubt that the bar for what constitutes a concrete injury in the statutory violation context is very low within the Eleventh Circuit. This precedential opinion does not seem to have received the attention it deserves, likely because the case was not originally appealed as a standing question.

In Muransky, the plaintiff sued Godiva for violations of FACTA, which requires merchants to mask all but the last five digits of a customer’s payment card number, as well as the expiration date, when providing printed receipts to their patrons. Muransky sued after Godiva provided him with a receipt showing the first six and last four digits of his credit card. However, this all occurred pre-Spokeo, so Godiva did not attempt to dismiss due to an alleged lack of concrete injury. Instead, Godiva eventually agreed to a class-wide settlement. The settlement was approved by the district court, but a few class members filed objections to it based on an alleged insufficiency of notice to the class, the amount of Austin Whitten attorneys’ fees, and the incentive award to the class representative. One of the objectors then raised the Spokeo issue of the class representative’s Article III standing for the first time at the fairness hearing. The district court overruled the objections, ignored the standing issue and approved the settlement. The objectors appealed.

On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit took it upon itself to analyze the plaintiff’s standing and ultimately determined that the plaintiff did in fact suffer multiple concrete injuries when he received a receipt in violation of FACTA.[4] The Muransky court focused its analysis on two of the Supreme Court’s guiding principles from Spokeo: the judgment of Congress and whether the harm from the statutory violation at issue has roots in any common law causes of action.

First, the court examined “the duties imposed and the rights conferred by FACTA,” as well as its structure and history, because Congress “is well positioned to identify intangible harms that meet minimum Article III requirements.”[5] They reached the conclusion that, because Congress had articulated a clear duty of care for merchants to uphold and also made willful violations of FACTA actionable even in the absence of actual damages, “Congress conceived of the of the harm as happening when the merchant provides a customer with an untruncated receipt.”[6]

The court’s analysis then turned to “whether the intangible harm that results from the statutory violation bears a ‘close relationship’ to harms that have ‘traditionally been regarded as providing a basis for a lawsuit in English or American courts.’”[7] They concluded that the harm from a defendant’s violation of FACTA is akin to the harms that provided basis for two separate common law torts: breach of confidence and breach of an implied bailment agreement. The court explained that, in both of these traditional torts, a customer entrusts something to a merchant, and the customer is harmed when the that trust is violated. Similarly, a customer is harmed when he entrusts his payment card information to a merchant and the merchant violates that trust by not complying with the FACTA requirements, according to the court.

By this point in the opinion, the Muransky court had already made clear that the plaintiff suffered a concrete injury just by receiving the violative receipt from the defendant and had standing to pursue his lawsuit. However, the court then went a step further to hold that the plaintiff had also sufficiently alleged additional actual injury when he pled that he received the receipt from Godiva and has kept up with it. The court pointed out that the plaintiff had to use his time and wallet space to safeguard the receipt that contained 10 digits of his credit card number. The court held that “[t]ime spent safely disposing of or keeping the untruncated receipt is, of course, a small injury, but it is enough to confer standing.”[8] Again, the Eleventh Circuit set an extremely low threshold for concrete injuries with this opinion.

The Eleventh Circuit’s conclusions in Muransky are in stark contrast to the conclusions of every other circuit court that has decided whether FACTA violations without actual damages result in concrete injury to the consumer. The Second, Seventh and Ninth circuits have all published opinions affirming the dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaints for failing to allege any concrete injury resulting from other FACTA violations.[9] Consequently, the majority of district courts around the country have been following suit.

The Eleventh Circuit’s inclusive interpretation of what constitutes a “concrete injury” in Muransky should come as no surprise for those following this issue. Muransky is just the most recent of the Eleventh Circuit’s seemingly consumer-friendly line of precedence on this issue and was a logical extension of its reasoning in previous opinions. The first decision was Church v. Accretive Health Inc.[10], an unpublished opinion decided less than two months after Spokeo was issued. The Church court held that the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged a concrete injury when the defendant violated her right to certain information created by the FDCPA. Then, in Perry v. Cable News Network Inc.[11], the court held that the defendant’s violation of the VPPA constituted a concrete injury to the plaintiff. The court reached the same conclusion in The Florence Endocrine Clinic PLLC v. Arriva Medical LLC [12] for alleged violations of the TCPA, and again in Pedro v. Equifax Inc.[13] for alleged violations of the FCRA.[14] These decisions are all still the controlling law in the Eleventh Circuit at this point, and it’s hard to imagine an abrupt change of course anytime soon unless the Supreme Court weighs in again.[15]

However, there is one appeal currently pending in front of the Eleventh Circuit that may test the limits of what constitutes a concrete injury. Oral arguments recently took place in Salcedo v. Hanna, et al.[16] over whether a single, unsolicited text message allegedly sent in violation of the TCPA causes sufficient harm to confer standing upon the recipient. If the court continues its trend and concludes the Salcedo plaintiff suffered a concrete injury from receiving the text message, it will become even more difficult to argue that the Eleventh Circuit has not become one of the most “consumer friendly” circuits in this area of law.

So, whether you’re looking for a place to file a new lawsuit based on a statutory violation or you’re advising a corporate client that’s considering challenging a plaintiff’s standing, you must bear in mind that district courts in the Eleventh Circuit are going to be applying some of the most consumer-friendly precedence in the country — even if that’s only true in regards to the narrow, threshold issue of concrete injury in an Article III standing analysis.

[1] Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct 1540 (May 13, 2016).

[2] Id. 136 S. Ct. at 1548-1549.

[3] Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier Inc ., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 (11th Cir. Oct. 3, 2018).

[4] The court also thoroughly discussed the other issues originally raised by the objectors and created guiding precedent in those areas as well, ultimately confirming the terms of the settlement.

[5] Id. 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 at *11

[6] Id. 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 at *16

[7] Id. 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 at *11

[8] Id. 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 at *18

[9] Bassett v. ABM Parking Servs. Inc., 883 F.3d 776 (9th Cir. 2018); Katz v. Donna Karan Co., 872 F.3d 114, 116 (2d Cir. 2017); Crupar-Weinmann v. Paris Baguette Am. Inc., 861 F.3d 76 (2d Cir. 2017); Meyers v. Nicolet Rest. of De Pere LLC, 843 F.3d 724 (7th Cir. 2016).

[10] Church v. Accretive Health Inc., 654 Fed. Appx. 990 (11th Cir. July 6, 2016)

[11] Perry v. Cable News Network, 854 F.3d 1336 (11th Cir. April 27, 2017)

[12] Florence Endocrine Clinic PLLC v. Arriva Med. LLC, 858 F.3d 1362, 1366 (11th Cir. 2017)

[13] Pedro v. Equifax Inc., 868 F.3d 1275 (11th Cir. 2017)

[14] While the Eleventh Circuit concluded the plaintiffs had standing in all these opinions, it must be noted that the court went on to affirm dismissal of some of them for other reasons.

[15] The Supreme Court may weigh in on the issue sooner rather than later: on Nov. 6, 2018, the justices called for additional briefing on the issue of the plaintiffs’ standing in Frank v. Gaos, S. Ct. Docket No. 17-961, a class-settlement appeal that was recently argued.

[16] Salcedo v. Hanna, 11th Cir. Docket No. 17-14077

How to Avoid Driving Distractedly

How to Avoid Driving Distractedly

One of the biggest threats to your safe driving is also probably one of your favorite companions: your smartphone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports texting while driving is one of the most dangerous types of driving behaviors, since sending or reading a text takes eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. That’s enough to cover a football field’s distance while traveling at 55 miles per hour. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports taking your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds doubles your risk of a crash.

Distracted driving isn’t just a danger caused by smartphone usage. Other causes of distracted driving include:

  • Looking up directions
  • Talking with a passenger
  • Turning around in a seat
  • Searching for something that dropped
  • Doing another task (like eating or applying makeup) while driving

Distracted driving is deadly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in 2016, 3,450 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers, and more than 390,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.

If you’re the distracted driver in a crash that seriously injures or kills someone, your distracted driving may be deemed negligent in court. Avoid costly settlements and the pain of knowing you’ve hurt or even killed someone else. Never drive while distracted. Follow these tips.

How to Avoid Driving DistractedlyKnow Where You’re Going Ahead of Time

If you need directions for your destination, before you put your car into drive, input where you’re going into your GPS system. Better yet, review the entire route before driving so you have a better idea of how you’ll navigate. If you need to re-route or get clarity into directions, pull off to the side of the road first.

Set Your Playlist Before Taking Off

Scrolling through a music player filled with potentially thousands of songs is enough to take your eyes off the road for several seconds. Set up your playlist before you drive, and put your music player somewhere unreachable so you’re not tempted to grab it while driving. If you need to change the radio, make sure you’re completely stopped.

Use Technology to Keep You Safe

Technology can actually be an asset to staying safe while driving. Apple phones with iOS 11 operating systems and later come with a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, which keeps phones silent and keeps screens dark. People who message you while driving will receive an auto-reply that you are driving. OneTap is an app that works similarly for Android. There’s also an app called Drivemode for Android that enables hands-free message and call responses. Check the cell phone laws for your state before using a phone in any capacity while driving, since text messaging while driving is illegal in most states.

How to Avoid Driving DistractedlyPull Over When You Need to Turn Your Focus Away from the Road

Knowing that just 2 seconds is enough time to double your chance of an accident, pull over to the side of the road whenever you need to handle something. This can include:

  • Having a serious conversation with a passenger
  • Looking up anything on your phone
  • Checking the car manual because you’re unsure about what a car light means or what a button does

Every time you drive, your goal should be to put all your focus on the road in front of you whenever your car is turned on. If you are unable to, you should halt driving.

Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up to Passengers

A study reported by the American Council on Science and Health found conversations with passengers in a car degrade driver awareness, negatively impacting reaction times, lane position, speed, distance and driver response. Before you drive with passengers in the car, tell them your focus is on safe driving, to protect not only you, but them. Ask for conversations to be quiet so they don’t distract you. If you are not comfortable talking with passengers while driving due to the risks, let them know before you drive.

Put Food and Drinks in the Back

Eating and drinking behind the wheel should never happen, but there may be times when you pick up food to-go to take home or to work. Don’t let tantalizing smells tempt you while driving. Put food behind your seat so you’re not inclined to nosh while on the road. Keep a lid on drinks, and put them as far away from you as safely possible so you don’t deal with spills or a hot beverage landing on your lap while you’re driving.

Take the Pledge

Imagine what your life would be like if you killed someone because you were driving distractedly. Not only would you have to face time in court and possibly in jail, but you’d have to live every day knowing you took away someone else’s chance to live because of your negligence.

Nothing is more important than safe driving while you are in a car. You can join more than 30 million people who have taken the It Can Wait pledge, which states the driver will always drive distraction-free and that the driver pledges to be an advocate for the cause. Taking a minute to commit can reinforce that you’ve put forth the effort to declare that you support distraction-free driving. By taking on an advocate role and sharing your views with other drivers, you can help to decrease distracted driving in your community and beyond.