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1HomePageMap small ne 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine

Since New Jesery did away with mandatory vehicle safety inspections required to get a valid registration sticker, inspection and fixing of certain items that would have been required for the eliminated safety portion of the motor vehicle evaluation process seem to have slipped from the consciousness of the driving public.

At least that’s what their mechanics are saying after the mechanical, or safety inspection portion, of the process was eliminated in August of 2010. State officials said they’ve seen fewer vehicles come to state inspection stations for emissions testing, which was partly attributed to new regulations exempting new cars from being inspected for five years.

A survey of members of the the New Jersey Gas-Convenience Store Retailers Association said that the number of customers having inspections performed has declined by “significant numbers” and that drivers were putting off the types of mechanical repairs previously needed to pass the state’s safety inspection, when items are brought to their attention.

“Our members are finding two things: A lot of vehicles aren’t getting inspected period, and some drivers are under the impression they don’t need the emissions inspection,” Sal Risalvato, executive director of the association, told the Asbury Park Press. “When we (mechanics) find things and bring it to their attention, they’re choosing not to do certain things, like replace a cracked windshield, or they put it off.”

Bad tires and faulty brakes are the biggest safety concerns and could lead to an accident, Risalvato said.

Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company is pursuing a plan to appoint 25 new agency owners by the end of 2011, the company announced June 1.

Allstate New Jersey, one of the state's largest insurance companies, is targeting successful, self-motivated professionals for a career as an Allstate exclusive agent. Unlike typical entrepreneurships, Allstate New Jersey provides its new agents with essential tools and resources to help them get off to a great start, including: insurance product education, expertise from company sales consultants, customizable marketing and advertising materials, and performance incentives. The company currently has approximately 270 agents and financial representatives throughout the state.

In addition, new and existing Allstate New Jersey agencies are projected to hire hundreds of licensed sales professionals and personal financial representatives. These positions involve selling life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, and other financial services products.

"The Allstate New Jersey opportunity is encouraging news for entrepreneurs looking for a chance to excel in a down economy," said Dale Schueller, regional sales leader, Allstate New Jersey. "If you do not have an insurance background, we will provide you with education to help position you for success."

Heavy winter storm activity has taken its toll on motorists and homeowners in the northeastern United States. Pennsylvania-based insurer Harleysville said the effects of severe winter storms over the area in the last few months will hurt its fourth quarter profits.

“We experienced unusually severe winter weather throughout much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, especially in New England and New York,” said CEO Michael Browne, according to Insurance Journal. “The number of events—coupled with their frequency and closeness to one another in time—combined to produce elevated catastrophe and non-catastrophe claims activity throughout commercial and personal lines. We saw an abnormal increase in water damage, ice dams, roof collapses and fire losses in property, automobile claims, and weather-related casualty losses.

“This extreme weather resulted in significant disruption and financial loss for a large number of our policyholders,” he added.

Catastrophe losses will reduce operating income by $0.21 per share. Harleysville said its combined ratio will reflect significant winter losses not meeting the catastrophe definition, as well as 4.5 points of catastrophe losses for the quarter. In the same quarter, one year-ago, Harleysville has statutory combined ratio of 107.8, which included 10 points of catastrophe losses. Both years’ catastrophe losses exceed the company’s long-term average.

Texting while driving laws in New York may get an upgrade in the coming weeks. Senate Republicans have stated they will push legislation that would allow police to stop and ticket motorists solely for texting while driving.

Using a portable electronic device while at the wheel of a moving vehicle in New York is currently a secondary offense, which means that a person can’t be pulled over for using the device alone. Instead, it must be tacked on to another primary offense.

Legislation sponsored by a dozen Republicans, who currently have majority control of that chamber, would upgrade it to a primary offense.

A group of Senate Democrats have also introduced a similar bill. A companion measure is pending in the Assembly.

Please visit www.nysenate.gov for more information.

The Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee gave its approval on May 3 to House Bill 9, which would impose stricter driving and licensing restrictions for 16- and 17-year-old drivers.

The state currently requires drivers under the age of 18 who are testing for a junior driver's license to have 50 hours of supervised "practical driving experience." The bill would bump up that amount to 65, with at least 10 of those hours being at night and with at least five being in "inclement weather."

The bill would also put passenger restrictions on licensed young motorists. If the bill is ultimately signed into law, these drivers would not be able to have more than one passenger under the age of 18 with them in the car without parental approval.

Passenger restrictions like the one proposed in the bill have been said to help lower crash rates. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatal-crash risk with three or more passengers "is about 3 times higher than when a beginner drives alone."

See Background in Previous Story HERE

More than 2,500 drivers have been cited since Delaware’s hands-free cell phone law went into effect at the beginning of 2011, according to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.

Office spokeswoman Alison Kirk says more than 350 people were issued cell phone citations in one day during a statewide crackdown on April 21. She says there have been 30 crashes involving cell phones as a distraction since the ban went into effect.

Cell phone users caught talking on their phones can expect a $50 ticket for their first offense, but after court costs the total can be more than $100. Subsequent cell phone offenses can result in fines between $100 and $200, although there are no points added to an offenders license for a cell phone violation.