Personal Injury Lawyers

Protecting Teens from Defective Tire Risks

Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of death for young people, and it is imperative that teens learn to be safe drivers in order to minimize risks that they face. Learning to be safe on the roads means not only learning defensive driving and obeying the rules of the road, but also understanding how to properly maintain a vehicle and ensure that there are no defects that could cause an accident. texture---tires---hdr-1031065-m

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows that bad tires on a vehicle can be very dangerous, as a tire blowout can occur. Too many teens don’t know how to properly maintain their tires, but there are a few simple things that young people can do to avoid the risk of a collision.

Preventing a Motor Vehicle Crash From Defective Tires
According to Health News Digest, around 300,000 motor vehicle crashes could be prevented each year involving inexperienced drivers. Preventing these crashes would be possible if better and more comprehensive driver’s education programs were available.

One big problem with driver’s education is that often there are no lessons on tire maintenance or on vehicle maintenance. Only 16 states require that the driver’s education curriculum include information on maintaining tires safely and only seven states require a lesson on tire and vehicle maintenance.

Many schools are also cutting driver’s education programs due to budget cuts, leaving some teenagers with few options for getting any sort of comprehensive driving education at all beyond learning the basics required to take a driving test and get a license.

When driver’s education does not cover tire maintenance or tire care, teens are left with no information except for what their parents provide to them. According to one recent survey, around 3/4 of teenagers said that anything they knew about taking care of their tires was learned from listening to parents. However, only around 1/3 of parents said that they felt as though they were knowledgeable about tire care. If they don’t have the knowledge about tire safety, they can’t be expected to give accurate information to their kids.

Not knowing about tire safety is a big problem. As many as 12 percent of the 2.2 million motor vehicle accidents that happen each year involve problems with the tires on an involved vehicle. This is an average of one accident involving tire problems every two minutes.

Tire safety does not have to be complicated if teens are taught some simple and basic tricks for checking on the condition of their tires. For example, the Penny Test is a really easy way to determine if tire treads have become too worn and the tire needs to be replaced. The test works by simply taking a penny and sticking it into the treads of the tires. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible when the penny is in the tire tread, then the tire is too worn.

In addition to checking for tire tread condition, teens should also check tire pressure to ensure that the tires are neither over nor under-inflated. The manufacturer recommends an appropriate tire pressure and tires should be within this range to maximize safety.

Accident lawyers in Birmingham, Alabama can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit http://www.slocumblaw.com.

Halloween Pedestrian Safety a Concern in Birmingham

For kids out trick or treating in Birmingham, Halloween night is supposed to be a time to dress up in a fun costume and get candy. Unfortunately, between 1990 and 2010, a total of 115 kids have lost their lives in pedestrian collisions on Halloween night. This data comes from a recent study conducted by State Farm in which more than four million accident records were reviewed. The statistics from Halloween night reveal that the number of kids killed on October 31 in pedestrian crashes was more than double the number of fatalities on other nights of the year. While there are normally an average of 2.6 pedestrian crash deaths among children daily, there are 5.5 kids killed in pedestrian crashes on Halloween night. halloween

A personal injury lawyer knows that the majority of the collisions on Halloween night occur in the middle of the block, as opposed to at intersections. Consumer Reports indicates that this might occur because kids run out into the middle of the road from in between parked vehicles. If drivers are not paying careful attention, they could strike and kill a child. Drivers need to be focused on the road on Halloween when more kids will be out, and parents need to talk to their children about Halloween safety.

Halloween Safety Risks for Kids

Sixty percent of accidents on Halloween night occur between the hours of 5:00 PM and 9:00 PM, with the vast majority of crashes happening specifically between 6:00 and 7:00. Kids between the ages of 12 and 15 account for the highest number of fatalities (32 percent). Kids between the ages of five and eight account for the second highest number of fatalities (23 percent).

Safe Kids Worldwide suggests that children under the age of 12 should not trick-or-treat or be out alone at night. This is good advice, but unfortunately the high number of deaths among older kids and teens suggest that kids within this older age group face risks as well. Unfortunately, young adult drivers out on Halloween are also likely to be involved in deadly pedestrian crashes. In fact, around 33 percent of deadly collisions that killed children on Halloween were caused by drivers between the ages of 15 and 25.

Safe Kids Worldwide has tips for drivers of all ages to help reduce the risk of pedestrian accident fatalities on Halloween. Drivers should:

  • Be aware of the added risks of children, especially before 9:00 PM and as the light starts to change and visibility is reduced.
  • Slow down, especially in residential neighborhoods. It is imperative to be on the lookout for children.
  • Avoid distracted driving. While using electronic devices is always high-risk, driving distracted could be even more dangerous on Halloween when a child could dart into the road at any minute.

Kids and parents can also do their part to help avoid the risk of Halloween collisions. Kids should wear brightly colored costumes whenever possible to make it easier for drivers to see them. Putting reflectors on trick-or-treat bags can also be helpful in reducing the risk of a pedestrian accident occurring.

Accident lawyers in Birmingham, Alabama can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit http://www.slocumblaw.com.

Are Montgomery Accident Victims More Likely to Get Legal Help?

After a motor vehicle collision, victims experience financial and non-economic costs including loss of wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, private insurance companies pay for approximately 50 percent of the costs associated with losses from motor vehicle collisions. Crash victims end up covering around 26 percent of the costs of motor vehicle accidents and the remaining losses are paid by taxpayers, by charities or by healthcare providers. car fire

Unfortunately, a personal injury lawyer knows that it can be a challenge for victims to actually receive the money they need from insurance companies. In fact, a report from the American Association for Justice shows that major insurers throughout the United States have developed entire business models around denying victims coverage for losses that insurance should pay for. These insurance companies use the 3 D’s to prevent victims from getting their losses covered. The 3 D’s stand for delaying payment of claims; denying covered claims; and defending vigorously against any accusations that the insurance company should be paying more.

Victims need to get help standing up to big insurance companies in order to have their financial damages covered by insurance after a collision. Fortunately, a report from the Insurance Research Council suggests that more victims are actually getting the help that they need from qualified attorneys after accidents occur.

More Accident Victims Getting Legal Help After Collisions

According to the Insurance Research Council, only 17 percent of personal injury protection (PIP) claimants got help making a claim from an insurance company back in 1977. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of PIP claimants who recognize that they need help and who seek legal representation. In 2007, 31 percent of crash victims making a personal injury protection claim had a lawyer. In 2012, the number of claimants represented by an attorney had grown to 36 percent.

The number of people getting help making a bodily injury claim has also increased, although not by as much because a good number of bodily injury claimants have always had legal representation. In 2007, 49 percent of people making a bodily injury claim had an attorney. By 2012, this number had reached 50 percent of claimants.

The Insurance Research Council seems to suggest that it is a bad thing that more people are getting legal help to protect themselves. The IRC points to the fact that it can take longer for victims to get paid damages as evidence of why victims are hurt by hiring a lawyer.

In reality, however, one tactic that insurance companies frequently use is to make a very low settlement offer to plaintiffs when they are first injured and need compensation. Plaintiffs may be pressured to accept this low negotiated settlement and give up their rights to sue. This can result in a victim receiving far less money than is necessary to cover losses. It is much better for a victim to have a slight delay in getting paid, but to actually get the money he needs for his motor vehicle collision damages.

Accident lawyers in Montgomery, Alabama can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit http://www.slocumblaw.com

Montgomery Drivers Should Follow the Golden Rules of Driver Safety

Officials from the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (F.I.A.) were nearly injured or killed in a recent motor vehicle collision, according to the New York Times. The F.I.A. is the parent organization of road clubs throughout the world and is the organization responsible for overseeing the motor sports industry. The F.I.A. officials were stopped on the side of the road changing a tire when they noticed a vehicle barreling towards their rental car. They were able to get out of the way just moments before the back of the rental vehicle was struck. cars

A personal injury attorney knows that if the driver who hit the stopped rental car on the side of the road had been paying more careful attention and surveying the road before him, the incident may have been avoided. According to the New York Times, looking ahead for potential road obstacles is one tip provided by professional drivers who are members of the F.I.A. The F.I.A. has also prepared more advice for motorists to help reduce the number of deadly accidents occurring.

The 10 Golden Rules for Road Safety

The F.I.A. views the number of motor vehicle collisions as similar to a worldwide epidemic of disease. Each year, around 1.3 million people are killed in traffic collisions worldwide and another 50 million people get hurt in accidents. By 2020, estimates suggest that there will be around two million people killed in traffic accidents every single year.

Many of these collisions are caused by bad driving, and could be prevented if drivers followed basic safety rules. The F.I.A. has identified 10 Golden Rules for motorists to follow including:

  • Always buckling their seat belts, both when driving and when riding as a passenger.
  • Always wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle, bicycle or other similar type of vehicle.
  • Checking both tire pressure and tire tread regularly to ensure that the vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and not too worn. Worn or under inflated tires can lead to a blow-out that results in a collision. Most cars today have sensors and drivers are alerted when the tires need air, but tires should still be checked manually on a periodic basis.
  • Respecting the rules of the road whenever motorists are behind the wheel operating their vehicles.
  • Driving sober at all times and never getting behind the wheel after consuming drugs or alcoholic beverages.
  • Staying focused on the road at all times. Motorists should avoid distractions such as cellular phones and other electronic devices.
  • Avoiding driving while fatigued. Drivers should get sufficient rest and should stop their vehicles and pull over when they become too tired to drive safely.
  • Showing other motorists courtesy and respect at all times when on the road.

Ironically, the New York Times reports that the F.I.A. officials had a trunk full of brochures with the 10 Golden Rules on them at the time when their accident occurred. If every motorist would make a commitment to follow these rules, hopefully collisions could be reduced and more people’s lives could be saved.

Accident lawyers in Montgomery, Alabama can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit http://www.slocumblaw.com

Why Do Men Pay Higher Insurance Premiums Than Women?

Insurance companies charge premiums to motorists based on what the company believes the risk of a payout is. When it comes to auto insurance, men pay much more in premiums for coverage than women according to a recent Yahoo News report. This, in theory, could suggest that male drivers are not as safe as female drivers. However, is this actually the reason for higher insurance rates among male drivers?

Insurance companies are responsible for compensating injured victims for losses that the insured causes when a collision happens. If you or a loved one is injured by a dangerous or careless driver, contact a personal injury lawyer for help pursuing a claim to recover monetary compensation for losses.

Why Do Men Pay Higher Insurance Premiums Than Women?

Evidence suggests that the reason men pay higher insurance premiums than women do is because men generally become involved in more serious motor vehicle accidents than their female counterparts. While women may be involved in more fender benders and may also be involved in more intersections at collections, male drivers are more likely to be involved in collisions where a vehicle is totaled. Men are also much more likely to die in crashes, or to cause other motorists to suffer serious injuries or fatalities. In fact, men account for 71 percent of the people killed in collisions on U.S. roadways.

The difference in premiums is very substantial when comparing men to women. As Yahoo reports, a 25-year-old man who lives in Oakland California and who has not ever had a ticket or an accident will end up paying as much as $385 higher premiums for car insurance compared to a woman with the same driving profile of the same age. As the man and woman get older, the gap narrows but still exists. Over time, the male driver will end up paying many thousands more in insurance costs than the female driver.

This is true despite the fact that a Reader’s Digest report shows that men may be better at certain driving skills when compared with women. The Reader’s Digest report confirms the fact that men are more likely to take risks and get into serious accidents. When a crash is caused by a male driver, the accident was more likely to have happened because of bad choices rather than because the male driver had insufficient driving skills.

The Daily Mail also affirmed the important differences between male and female drivers. The article talked about research conducted from 1998 to 2007, during which time there were 6.5 motor vehicle collisions that were studied. The researchers found a surprising number of collisions involving two female drivers. There was also a high number of accidents at intersections involving female motorists.

Unfortunately, a serious accident that totals a car or that results in injury or death is going to cause much more financial loss. Insurance companies know there is a greater chance of a very expensive accident with a male driver, and this is why men pay more than women do for car insurance.

Accident lawyers in Washington, D.C. can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Back to School Safety Advice to Prevent Child Injuries in Washington D.C.

When kids head back to school for the year, they face new risks that they did not experience during the summer months. Schools have the responsibility of ensuring that pupils are kept safe during school hours. Parents should also do their part to ensure that kids know safety rules and do not engage in high-risk behavior.

If a child is injured in a bus accident or due to negligence at school, parents need to understand their rights to make an injury claim. A personal injury lawyer can provide representation to victims and their loved ones.

Back to School Safety Advice

For children under the age of 15, unintentional injury is a leading cause of death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were 5,401 young people who were killed over the course of the year. Preventing accidents can reduce the number of children who lose their lives.

The National Safety Council has some tips for safety practices to follow to prevent injury as kids go back to school. The NSC’s checklist includes transportation safety tips such as:

  • Ensuring that children who walk to school know the rules for staying safe including walking on sidewalks when possible and always looking both right and left before crossing the road.
  • Doing a practice walk to school with kids, especially if it is their first time walking on their own or if they will be taking a different route to school.
  • Providing kids who bike to school with a helmet that fits properly and requiring the helmet be worn at all times when bicycling. Bicycle riding children should also be reminded that they must ride on the correct side of the road and that they should come to a full and complete stop before they cross.
  • Requiring that kids who take a bus to school stand at least six feet back from the curb while waiting for the bus and cross at least 12 feet in front of the bus.

Playground accidents are also a risk for young people. Children should not be allowed to play on playgrounds that are located above concrete, grass or a dirt. Schools that provide playground facilities need to ensure that there is a soft surface below the playground in case a child falls. In addition, kids should be supervised carefully at all times, and the use of climbing equipment should be limited. School playgrounds should not have monkey bars available and parents should not allow kids to climb on monkey bars.

Finally, kids face the potential for back injuries as a result of heavy backpacks. It is advisable for parents to make sure that kids have a backpack that fits them properly and that does not weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of a young child’s body weight. Kids should be encouraged or required to carry the backpack with the straps over both shoulders.

By following these best practices for safety, hopefully kids can have a safe and fulfilling school year and the risk of injuries will be reduced.

Accident lawyers in Washington, D.C. can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.


GM Safety Recalls Highlights Risk for D.C. Motorists

General Motors has been fined the largest amount in history for failure to report a safety defect and respond to government agency investigations in a timely manner. The car company will pay $35 million to the federal government. GM has also entered into a consent agreement in which the company will turn over the results of internal investigations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and will overhaul its internal system for dealing with safety issues.

Clearly, GM needs to do something to improve safety and this settlement may provide the impetus the car company needs. GM has recalled more vehicles so far in 2014 than the company has sold in the U.S. since 2009. The company has had safety problems linked to 12 deaths and 46 injuries.

When an accident occurs and a vehicle defect may have caused or contributed to injury, victims or family members need to consult a personal injury lawyer. There may be multiple parties who are to blame and who must compensate crash victims, including the car company as well as drivers whose negligence played a role in causing the accident.

GM Recalls a Record Number of Vehicles

CNN recently reported that GM had recalled more cars in 2014 than in the history of the company. This was even before recent news from Auto News that another 30,000 Saab convertibles were being recalled as a result of a problem with seat belts failing to properly retract.

Some of the recalls were related to problems with the ignition switch. The switch could turn from “Run” to “Accessory” unexpectedly as a person was driving. As a result, this would end up turning off the power-steering, the car’s engine and the air bags. It was this defect that allegedly caused accidents that took lives and injured countless motorists.

GM may have been aware of the problems with the ignition switch as early as 2001. Yet, although the car company is required to notify the NHTSA and instituted a recall within five business days of identifying a safety defect, GM did nothing for years.

Tahoes, Sierras and Silverados were also reportedly recalled because of problems with the steering.

Car manufacturers have a responsibility to the public not to let problems like these occur. Consumers should also do their research so they make smart choices about the vehicles that they buy. Safer Car is a good resource for consumers who are shopping for a car to buy. At this site, consumers can access information on:

  • Crash test ratings for both new and used vehicles.
  • Notices of safety recalls and investigations.
  • Complaints and defects identified in certain vehicle models.
  • Car seats.
  • Car safety features and technologies.
  • Tire safety issues including tire ratings and maintenance tips to keep tires in good shape and reduce the risk of blow outs.

Consumers can sign up for free recall alerts on their phones so they are notified right away if a problem is identified with a car they are driving.

A personal injury attorney in Washington, D.C. can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit http://www.slocumblaw.com.

D.C. Cyclists and Drivers Share Busy Washington Roads

Bicycle riders and drivers are competing for road space on busy urban roads and the outcome has not been good. A lot of D.C. drivers have complaints that bicycle riders are not playing by the rules or sharing the roads in a safe way. In fact, just recently, the Washington Post published several articles criticizing a variety of different bicyclist behavior.

Bicycle riders, on the other hand, are understandably concerned that the roads don’t remain very safe for them. The death toll rose for pedalcyclists according to a recently released report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the majority of bike riders who lose their lives are killed in urban areas.

Bicycle riders and drivers need to respect each other’s rights on the road and avoid high-risk behaviors that could increase the chance of a crash and injuries occurring. If someone does get hurt, the victim or his family members should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney for help.

Drivers Have Complaints About Bike Riders as Bicyclist Death Toll Rises

The Washington Post has raised the many concerns drivers in the city have with bicycle riders. One issue is that bike riders have had miles of bike lanes added throughout D.C., which can result in the loss of other essential services motorists need in cities, like parking spaces where elderly church parishioners used to park. Bicycle riders in the district are now also asking for a bike elevator to help them get up a steep hill.

There are accusations that many bicycle riders ride the wrong way in these bike lanes, putting people at risk. Bicycle riders may also be riding on sidewalks, which creates a hazard for pedestrians who need to walk in these same areas.

Bike riders want to be treated the same as drivers and are expected to obey the same rules of the road, including stopping at traffic signals and stop signs. However, some bicyclists are not following these rules. In other cases, bikers may follow the letter of the law but may not be very considerate. Bike riders, for example, sometimes ride up to the front of a line of traffic that is stopped at the red light and then all of the drivers are forced to wait for the bicyclist to pass when the light turns green.

Another major concern is that bicycle riders sometimes ride at night and with no lights. This makes it hard for pedestrians and drivers to see them coming and increases the chances of a collision occurring.

These are legitimate concerns, but bike riders also have the right to complain that the roads are not meeting their needs. The NHTSA’s recent report indicates that the number of bicycle accident fatalities increased six percent between 2011 and 2012. A total of 69 percent of bicycle-rider deaths occur in urban areas compared with just 31 percent of fatalities in rural areas. In total, 726 bicycle riders were killed over the course of 2012, which meant bike riders made up two percent of all driving fatalities. There were also another 49,000 bike riders injured, which was also two percent of all injuries.

A personal injury lawyer in Washington, D.C. can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit http://www.slocumblaw.com.

D.C. Traffic Watch: Can Collision Warning Systems Save Lives?

Drivers continue to operate their vehicles when they are distracted, despite numerous warnings alerting them to the dangers of cell phones and other devices that steal focus from the road. Many carmakers are responding to this dangerous trend by including collision warning systems in their vehicles. While these warning systems could perhaps help prevent some accidents, not all systems are created equal. Further, drivers should not become comfortable with the idea that their car will stop for them.

No amount of technology can substitute for common sense and safe driving. When a driver makes a dangerous choice and endangers other motorists on the road, he must be held accountable for the harm caused. Accident lawyers in Washington, DC at the Mike Slocumb Law Firm should be consulted by victims of collisions for help pursuing a damage claim.

Collision Warning Systems And Accident Prevention

According to the New York Daily News, a forward collision warning system uses radar beams, cameras, and/or laser beams to scan the road ahead of the vehicle. If the system believes that the vehicle is coming too close to an object at an unsafe speed, it can alert the driver and it will either ready the braking system for full power or it will automatically cause the vehicle to brake.

Most systems will automatically apply the brake to slow a vehicle or to stop it from colliding with an object in front, while a minority of systems only warn the drivers. It is also more common for the car to first warn the driver and then apply the brakes, although some systems will stop the car without first alerting the driver that there is an obstacle.

Forward collision warning systems usually work when the car is traveling at a speed of 30 miles per hour or less, although some newer systems will even activate the braking system when the car is going as fast as 50 miles per hour. If the vehicle is going above this speed, generally only a warning will be issued as the car slamming on the brakes would be extremely dangerous.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is currently trying to respond to consumer confusion caused by so many different technologies in collision avoidance. The IISH rates systems as basic, advanced or superior and is establishing a classification system that will help consumers better understand how the different collision avoidance systems work.

An IISH spokesperson has said that it is clear the technology is helping to avoid crashes and is helping to reduce speed and thus lessen the severity of collisions where an accident cannot be avoided.

However, there is a danger that drivers may become too reliant on this technology and that it may make some motorists feel safer driving while distracted. Collision avoidance systems may malfunction if sun, rain, snow or fog prevents the devices from seeing in front of the vehicle. Further, not all systems can detect pedestrians and cyclists, of which there are many in the Washington D.C. area. Even with collision avoidance systems in place, drivers need to remain vigilant and ensure they act responsibly to say safe on the roads.

Accident lawyers in Washington, D.C. can help if you have been injured. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit http://www.slocumblaw.com.

Washington D.C. Pedestrian Accident Victims Face Post-Collision Challenges

Washington D.C. residents enjoy both walking and biking to work. According to the Washington Post, Washington ranks seventh in the nation for the popularity of commuting via bicycle and second in the nation when it comes to walking. Only Boston has more people who like walking to work.

Pedestrians, unfortunately, face serious risks if they are hit by a car.  The harm that a pedestrian experiences can go well beyond physical injuries endured. Being in a motor vehicle collision can change your life, and the New York Times recently published a report on the aftermath of the crash experience.  Victims of a pedestrian collision need to understand their legal rights, and pedestrian accident lawyers in Washington, DC can help those who have been harmed.

Pedestrian Accident Victims Face Lingering Challenges

The New York Times article on life after a pedestrian crash included stories from several staffers who had been hit by vehicles while walking in the city.  The author had been hit by a delivery truck, breaking his femur and pelvis. He was immobile and bedridden in the hospital after the collision. Treatment included surgery, blood transfusions and the insertion of an interior vena cava to stave off blood clots.

During his recovery period, he received a card from a friend who had been in a collision in the past. The card warned him that his life was unlikely to ever be the same.  The author agreed that this has been his experience, as he continues to have flashbacks to his accident when he sees a delivery truck in the city. He is also both more careful and more fearful when walking now, never stepping off the curb until the light has changed and always looking both ways multiple times before going across the road. He takes these steps even though he was crossing legally at the time his collision occurred.

Other New York Times staffers have had similar experiences. One described the pedestrian knockdown crash that she was in as one of the most frightening and most difficult things she had ever experienced.  Another said that although four years had passed since her pedestrian accident, she still became very fearful when crossing the road. She described continually looking over her shoulder as she crossed and feeling such an immense sense of panic if she thought a car was coming at her or didn’t see her.

The experiences that these pedestrian accident victims had are common reactions people have after being hurt in a motor vehicle collision. Often, too little attention is paid to the mental effects of the aftermath of a pedestrian crash, as headlines tend to focus on the terrible physical injuries or deaths that these accidents cause.

Victims of pedestrian accidents should be compensated not just for the medical treatment that their injuries necessitate, and not just for the time off of work. The physical, mental and emotional harm they endure is very real and drivers who cause pedestrian accidents should provide monetary damages for these losses.

Accident lawyers in Washington, D.C. can help if you have been injured. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.