Today, we ring out the old year and ring in the new. Thanks for visiting us this year and we look forward to bringing you more insurance information and tips in the new year! But for now, here’s a recap of some of the highlights of 2013.
Here in New England, our Halloween just took on a whole new flavor with the Red Sox win last night. While we still suggest that you take precautions against ghosts and goblins to ensure that you protect your home and keep everyone safe, we think there’s so much joy in New England today that the scary spirits may pick some other place to haunt.
Image via Yahoo Sports
The race is on. Automakers are competing to bring self-driving or “autonomous” cars to the market by 2020. Are robot cars feasible? While it’s not likely that the highways will look like a scene from the Jetsons anytime soon, we can expect to see more and more “semi-autonomous” auto features being widely available starting in 2015 and beyond – features such as collision avoidance systems, lane departure warnings, advanced cruise control that can navigate curves and parking assist systems. But New Englanders and other people living in snowy climates take note: In a report on what it’s like to ride in Google’s driverless car, Joann Muller talks about some of the self-driven car limitations:
“…the driverless car can’t handle heavy rain and can’t drive on snow-covered roads “because the appearance and shape of the world changes. It can’t figure out where to go or what to do.” And engineers are still working on how to program the car to handle “rare events” like encountering a stalled vehicle over the crest of a hill or identifying debris, like a tire carcass, in the middle of the road.”
Are drivers ready for the auto technological innovations to come? Check out this fun infographic from Chubb’s Risk Conversation blog:
None of us can guess how long the federal government shutdown will last, but so far any type of resolution does not look imminent. We thought we’d offer resources to help you learn which federal services are affected, and what the impact is on the New England states.
Washington Post – What’s open, what’s closed
Washington Post: Government shutdown: A consumer guide
While most people are aware that federal services may be affected, as leaf peepers head out for fall foliage drives and day trips this weekend, be aware that some popular destinations may be closed. A few of these include Acadia National Park in Maine , the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, the Cape Cod National Seashore, the USS Constitution and the JFK Library. Hunters and fishers in Vermont are finding federal lands are closed, too. But if you are wondering about some big upcoming football games, the Air Force-Navy and Army-Boston College football games will be played Saturday after receiving official approval from the secretary of defense, according to ESPN.
Here are some initial shutdown affects reported in the states. Most states say that the impact will snowball over time – initially affecting federal workers but later potentially impacting businesses with federal contracts.
Massachusetts – Thousands Of Federal Workers In Mass. Face Furloughs
Connecticut – Federal Workers Furloughed As Shutdown Begins
Rhode Island – Shutdown could deliver long-term hits to R.I.
There’s a few weeks left to summer and August is a big beach month. One of the most highly touted scare stories each season are the shark attack reports. Here in New England, people may be more nervous than usual in the light of a pretty horrific recent white shark attack off Cape Cod. Thankfully, this encounter between man and beast was not fatal – you can hear the survivor talk about his experience.
It’s understandable why these events are riveting – it’s the stuff of our nightmares. But should it be? This was the first confirmed white shark attack in Massachusetts in 76 years. For all the media attention they get, shark attacks are pretty rare. Ocean observers tell us that you have more of a risk of dying from a sand hole collapse than a shark attack but you probably aren’t having nightmares about sand castles. But maybe you should be.
Another very common hazard at the ocean are rip currents. Beach-goers should be alert for these narrow, powerful channels of water that pull swimmers directly away from a beach. They can occur at any beach with breaking waves, sadly illustrated by the recent drownings in Lake Michigan and the Toronto area. According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, more than 80 percent of water rescues on surf beaches are due to rip current and they account for about 100 drownings per year.
You can learn more about rip currents at the National Weather Service Rip Current Safety site. There’s a lot of information, current rip current weather alerts, and safety tips and resources to educate you and your kids.
Great insurer minds think alike – after we posted this, we saw on Twitter that Chubb also featured a blog post on rip tides and currents today! See Catch A Wave, Not a Current.