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The dangers of drunk driving do not just apply to driver’s of cars and trucks. Drivers of other motor vehicles, including scooters, boats, and ATV’s are also at risk of causing serious injuries and fatalities. This past weekend, a University of Florida football player was charged criminally after allegedly riding a scooter while under the influence.

Drunk-driving poses a notorious risk to pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists sharing the road. During the summer, especially around holiday weekends, including the Fourth of July, motorists and their passengers are at a high risk of drinking and driving accidents. Our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys are committed to helping the victims of DUI injury protect their rights after a collision. In addition to civil liability, DUI offenders can also be held criminally liable and face serious penalties.

A University of Florida football player was arrested over the weekend after being accused of operating his scooter while under the influence. The 19-year-old freshman was a walk-on Florida punter and charged with DUI. According to reports, the player was arrested by Gainesville Police after he was spotted running a stop sign while on his scooter.

Many South Florida residents will use a golf-cart, scooter or other non-traditional vehicle to get around. While these vehicles may seem safer to operate, drivers can still be held liable if they are found to be drinking and driving. These vehicles can also pose a significant risk to other motorists, pedestrians as well as cyclists and other bystanders.

The Florida punter allegedly ran a stop light in front of a police officer who was waiting to pass through the intersection. When the football player saw the police car, he swerved to avoid being seen and almost fell off his scooter. Police reports also indicated that he was visibly intoxicated. The officer also indicated that the punter pulled out his cell phone and tried to drive off before being pulled over.

When a driver is under the suspicion of alcohol use, there will be an initial investigation to test for blood-alcohol content. In the event of an accident or injury, these investigations are taken more seriously and drivers will be heavily scrutinized. In addition to criminal penalties, drivers can also be held civilly liable for all injuries and related expenses, including medical costs, long-term care needs, lost wages, pain and suffering and any additional losses related to the accident.

The defendant in this case was apprehended at a nearby parking garage where the officer noted in his police report the smell of alcohol. The officer also noted in his report that the player had bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils, both indications of alcohol use and intoxication. The underage player refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test and admitted to being at a bar, though denied that he was drinking. He was booked in jail. In addition to criminal penalties, he will likely face disciplinary measures from the university.

Florida drivers should remember that drinking and driving can be dangerous for car drivers, motorcyclists and truck drivers as well as those operating other motor vehicles, including scooters. Drivers of scooters and all motor vehicles should remember that criminal penalties can be severe and that serious accidents and injuries can arise from a drunk driving collision.
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With Fourth of July behind us, you may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief behind the wheel.

While winter can pose the risk of heavy seasonal traffic, summer driving months are typically the most dangerous of the year—and August is the deadliest. Road trips, construction, as well as summer rain storms create additional risks from drivers, whether passing through small town intersections or traveling at high speeds on the interstate.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more Americans are killed in August traffic collisions than in any other month of the year. Though motorists can take any number of precautions, some accidents remain out of driver control. Drunk-driving accidents, auto defects, speeding, and other negligent drivers can put innocent motorists at risk. Our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys are committed to helping Florida tourists and residents prevent accidents and protect their rights in the event of a collision.

According to reports, there are 1.09 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. March has the lowest number of fatalities with .94 per 100 million miles. As shocking as it seems, the agency indicated that an average of 93 people die every day in U.S. car accidents. This means one death every 16 minutes. A large percentage of the most deadly days of the year occur in August.

One of the primary reasons for the spike in accidents is the sheer number of miles traveled on U.S. roads. Analysts surmise that the accident rates rise because more people are driving during August than any other time of the year. This means that drivers are at a greater risk of accident, injury or death on the weekends.

Weekends mean more driving, especially long distances—trips to the store, camping, to family members or to the lake. Reports indicate that Saturdays have the highest number of crash-related deaths, averaging 123 deaths per day nationwide. Comparatively, Fridays are the second highest rate of accidents and Tuesday has the lowest number of crash-related fatalities.

Summer also increases the risk of drinking and driving accidents. When on the road this summer, be aware of the risks of drinking and driving and also be more cautious when on the freeways. When possible, you should avoid driving at night or when visibility is low. More than one-third of accidents occur between 3 and 9 p.m. However, the deadliest hours on the road are between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. at night.

August driving can pose addition risks during inclement weather. As we have mentioned in earlier posts, you should avoid driving during heavy rains or tropical storms. If you are stuck in a storm while on the road, you should pull over until the storm dies down or avoid driving all together.

Despite public health campaigns that encourage the use of seatbelts, many of the August deaths can be attributed to motorists and passengers who fail to buckle up. According to the NHTSA, of those killed less than half of motorists and their passengers use seatbelts. This can exponentially increase the risk of fatality in the event of an accident.

August is high-risk month so danger lies ahead! Avoid distracted driving, buckle-up and avoid any unnecessary risks, including driving while fatigued, at night or during a storm.
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Private coach and bus companies are increasingly under scrutiny since a number of bus companies have been held liable after deadly highway accidents. Whether you are chartering a bus on behalf of your school, church or organization, or you are taking an independent trip with a bus company, it is important to keep safety in mind.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has also gotten involved to increase public awareness and to take a greater role in the regulation of busing companies. The agency has suspended the operations of a national bus company after finding that it posed an “imminent hazard to public safety.” Our Fort Lauderdale bus accident lawyers are experienced in investigating these complex cases and helping victims recover the compensation they deserve.

According to government reports, the bus company “Advanced Ventures” operated a fleet of coaches and mini-buses, transporting passengers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Government agencies are charged with ensuring the safety of passengers and in upholding safety standards for busing companies. The agency claims that it will shut down any company that is not transporting passengers safely.

Bus safety encompasses a number of precautions, including maintenance and upkeep of vehicles, proper training and screening for drivers, ensuring safe routes, checking for inclement weather, and a number of other procedures that can ensure safe transport for passengers.

After an accident it is likely that any bus company will be investigated by the federal government, especially if the company is crossing over state lines. In an investigation of “Advanced Ventures,” the agency found that the bus company falsified inspection documents. This means that the vehicles were not properly maintained to meet minimum safety standards. The agency found that there were 39 safety violations. Onsite inspectors found that two of the vehicles in use were “imminently hazardous” and deemed out-of-service.

Proper maintenance includes upkeep of the engine and proper vehicular inspections as well as ensuring safe and functioning window exits. The inspections found that the company allowed drivers to operate vehicles without waiting from drug and alcohol test records. The company may also be held accountable for failure to maintain medical records, documentation, and itineraries.

Like the trucking industry, commercial bus companies are required to keep certain records and to maintain safe conditions for passengers. When documents are falsified, passengers are at risk of fatigued drivers or drivers who are under the influence. The agency is working to shut down those companies that fail to comply with federal regulatory standards.

Safety of passengers is critical. When taking a summer bus trip, be sure to properly research the company that you will be hiring. You should inquire about records and safety standards and always be wary if you suspect that a company falls short on protocols. You can also download the “SaferBus” mobile app to get up-to-date information on a bus company’s record of safety before making a reservation for your family or organization.

The federal government has shut down 21 companies and eight trucking companies for similar violations this year. In addition to shutting down bus companies, the agency has also suspended 6 commercial licenses, blocking drivers from crossing state lines with a commercial vehicle.
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Our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys know that almost 70 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 64 admit to talking on their cell phone when driving.

It is this behavior that has helped make distracted driving a top cause of auto accidents in America.

Now, NBC News reports that a recent study shows Americans may be largely alone in their decision to take the dangerous risk of texting behind the wheel. The worldwide study took a look at behaviors in the U.S, Belgium, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands, among other places, and found that the United States was number one regarding the number of people talking or texting and driving.

Data Shows US Stands Out Among the Crowd
According to the research:

  • Approximately 69 percent of adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18-64 said they had talked on a cell phone in the car one or more times in the 30 days before the survey.
  • Only 21 percent of people from Britain reported cell phone use in the past 30 days and only 40 percent of adults in France had used the phone when driving over the prior month.
  • In the U.S., 31 percent of drivers said that they had texted while they were driving. This 31 percent is almost twice the 15 percent of drivers who live in Spain who said they had texted while driving at least once in the past month.

The responses from people in the U.S. and the high number of people talking and texting may be partially explained by the different laws in the states versus in Europe. In the United States, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that there are only 10 states that completely ban the use of handheld devices by drivers. The U.S. also doesn’t have uniform laws when it comes to texting and driving, with only 39 states imposing a complete ban on texting for drivers of all ages. Other states have various limitations preventing younger drivers from texting or talking, while some have no widespread statewide bans at all.

In Europe, on the other hand, almost all countries have a ban on the use of handheld devices. This widespread ban likely accounts for why drivers in these countries don’t talk or text in as great of numbers as people in the United States. However, researchers cannot explain why there are such big differences among the different countries in Europe since they all have similar rules.

A Dubious Honor
Unfortunately, the honor of being the country with the most cell-phone using drivers is not a good thing. Cell phone use is very dangerous and the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that more than 3,000 drivers were killed in this country in 2010 in crashes related to distracted driving.

Young drivers tend to be at the greatest risk, with teens texting around 25 percent as often as their parents think they are and with 11 percent of all fatal crashes involving a driver age 20 and under involving distracted driving.

Sadly, most people in America know that texting and driving or talking and driving is dangerous and yet they do it anyway. Tougher enforcement of laws and more laws throughout the U.S. could potentially help to stop this dangerous practice, could bring the country down from its number one slot and could save lives.
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Parents concerned for their child’s safety on the road now have a comprehensive resource to get facts, research statistics and debunk myth.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia earlier this month launched the Car Seat Safety for Kids site, with the Keeping Kids Safe During Crashes as part of an outreach program designed to educate parents about car seat safety and prevention car accidents in South Florida and across the country.

The site features easily understandable, straightforward advice about car seats and car seat safety for parents of infants, toddlers and those ages 4 to 8 and older. It even offers tips for expectant moms and dads on everything from seat belt safety during pregnancy to how to prepare for your baby’s first ride home.

Our Pembroke Pines car accident lawyers have seen firsthand the immense pain, suffering and guilt that results when a child dies in a crash – especially if the death was preventable.

We know child car seats can be somewhat complicated to properly install, especially if you are a novice or first-time parent.

We also understand that motor vehicle accidents are sometimes unavoidable.

However, serious injury and death don’t have to be inevitable if parents and other caregivers take the time to learn about the correct installation and positioning, as well as what aspects to look for when purchasing a child car seat.

In the state of Florida, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that children under the age of 3 are required to be placed in a car seat – every trip, without exception. Failure to follow this law can result not only in fines and points on your license, it could lead to a tragedy.

In fact, motor vehicle accidents are known to be the No. 1 cause of death for children between the ages of 3 and 14. That’s a terrifying statistic for every parent.

It doesn’t end there.

In 2008, researchers determined four children were killed every single day in car accidents and more than 500 were injured.

Now the good news. The NHTSA reports that the lives of nearly 9,000 children were saved between 1975 and 2008.

Our Pembroke Pines car accident attorneys want to make sure that if you’re in an accident, your child will be protected.

Suzanne Hill, director of Advocacy Outreach at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, said her office partnered with the hospital to publish not just articles on the new website, but updated videos to offer visual guides. She added that the site will soon offer Spanish translations to all of its material as well.

While the Keeping Kids Safe During Car Crashes site offers a plethora of resources for parents, four main tips are spotlighted:

–Make sure your child is either in a car seat or buckled in every time, no exceptions.
–Keep your child in the back seat.
–Use the best safety restraint for your child’s size.
–Make sure that either the car seat or seat belt is being properly used.
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Debate rages on among Florida lawmakers, who continue to wrestle with the merits of enacting a statewide ban on texting while driving.

It’s a two-sided coin.

A ban would likely mean a sharp decrease in the number of distracted driving crashes across the state – an obvious plus.

But how easy will it be to enforce?

Our Coral Springs car accident attorneys have seen the devastating aftermath that can result when drivers don’t pay attention to the road.

Texting behind the wheel was known to cause nearly 5,500 deaths in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Florida is among the few states that have yet to approve any sort of ban on texting while driving. Throughout the country, 39 other states have passed some form of legislation regarding the issue.

But it’s not for lack of trying.

Capitol News Service reports that Florida state Senator Nancy Detert has made three previous failed attempts to adopt such a law.

This time may be different.

Just a few days into the current legislative session, the new bill, known as SB 416, needs the rubber stamp of just one more committee before it will head to the Senate floor. A companion bill in the House of Representatives, HB 299, has not yet been opened for discussion.

In multiple media interviews, Detert likened texting while driving to drunk driving, saying the results are just as deadly.

While the outlook is positive, the measure is not without dissenting opinions.

Republican Senator Joe Negron, for example, took issue with the enforceability aspect. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Negron wondered how a police officer could accurately tell the difference between a driver texting and, say, checking their calendar on their phone.

He also argued that such a law would be redundant because the state already has laws against reckless driving.

Other lawmakers, meanwhile, wonder if the bill goes far enough. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla wants to add language in the bill that would increase the penalties if the offender was texting behind the wheel while in a school zone.

“Schools should be safe havens, and that includes the area where people drop off their children or where children walk to school,” the senator told a Miami Herald reporter.

A recent study by Monash University found that drivers who used handheld devices were four times as likely to be involved in an accident. Further, the NHTSA reports that drivers who text are 23 times as likely to crash.

This is also alarming when you consider that there were 196 billion text messages sent in June 2011 alone — and that’s an increase of 50 percent from two years prior.

That means your risk of a distracted-driving crash in Coral Springs and elsewhere is escalating dramatically.

For each text, the NHTSA found, drivers took their eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds, or roughly the length of a football field if you’re going 55 miles per hour.

Perhaps that’s why some groups, such as the Florida Sheriffs Association, are now coming forward to back Detert’s efforts.
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You get into your car.

You automatically check your mirrors.

You make sure the seat is in the correct position.

But you don’t expect that you’ll have to assess whether the car has major mechanical defects. That’s the government’s job, right?

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) suggests motorists are wrong to assume full faith in government oversight of vehicle defects.

Our Deerfield Beach car accident lawyers have been closely following the news about the recall of millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles, amid reports of faulty accelerators that were to blame in a number of accidents.

It was originally believed that faulty electrical wiring was responsible for pedals that jammed or got stuck, leading to unintentional acceleration. However, the National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) hired scientists from NASA to research the issue. No electrical problems were uncovered.

But now, the NHSTA is facing scrutiny of its own from the NAS for the fact that an outside firm had to be brought on to conduct the research.

The NAS criticized the federal traffic administration for not having enough in-house expertise to address the issue, according to CNN.

The NAS agreed with the agency that there was a lack of evidence to support a claim of electrical malfunction in the vehicles. But it also determined NHSTA should have been able to reach that conclusion on its own.

“It is troubling that the concerns associated with unintended acceleration evolved into questions about electronics safety that NHTSA could not answer convincingly, necessitating a request for extensive technical assistance from NASA,” CNN quoted the report as saying.

Considering that auto manufacturers rely on high-tech electronic systems for their own purposes, the NAS said the agency tapped to act as a government watchdog of the industry should employ at least the same level of expertise.

That’s why it’s critical that drivers in South Florida and throughout the country be proactive in their own research regarding their vehicle’s safety.

Our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers know that not everyone is a natural mechanic. Still there are steps that car consumers can take when purchasing a vehicle that will improve their chances for safety and potentially avoid crashes in Deerfield Beach and elsewhere.

To start,, a division of the national Department of Transportation, annually rates most vehicles on the market for safety standards. This includes how each make and model withstands frontal crashes, side crashes and rollovers.

In response to a high number of fatal crashes over the years, many manufacturers are building vehicles with safety standards that exceed the minimum federal guidelines.

But you can improve your chances by asking the following questions, suggested by the federal DOT, when purchasing a vehicle:

–What features does this car have that will help me avoid a crash?
–If I am in a crash, how well will this vehicle protect me? For example, will the side airbag protect my front passenger’s head and abdomen?
–If I’m in a single-vehicle crash, what is the likelihood this car will roll over?
–What are the additional advanced safety features of this car?
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Our Delray Beach car accident attorneys want to remind motorists to give other drivers a break as we head into the busiest travel and snowbird months of the year. By driving safely we can help ensure everyone enjoys the holiday and starts the new year off on the right foot.

Car accidents in Margate, Plantation, Pembroke Pines and elsewhere in South Florida are commonly caused by a driver speeding, driving under the influence, becoming distracted or driving aggressively. Motorists who keep these unsafe behaviors in check can make a difference in keeping traffic-related deaths and injuries to a minimum.

Guardrails were recently mounted along State Road 80 to help keep motorists from veering off the side of the road and drowning. Several deaths have occurred because a driver was driving too fast for the road conditions, became distracted or was driving under the influence and lost control of the vehicle headed right for the canal. The Palm Beach Post News reports traffic fatalities were down for our area in 2010 when compared to 2009. Palm Beach County reported 123 traffic deaths in 2010 compared to 151 in 2009.

Florida Highway Patrol officials are guardedly optimistic about the number of deaths on roadways because the numbers for 2011 are keeping pace with last year. Palm Beach County has recorded 94 deaths as of October 4, up four from last year at this time. Much of the blame is still directed to the fact that Florida still doesn’t have laws prohibiting texting or talking on mobile devices while operating a vehicle.

Let’s consider the leading contributing causes for crash fatalities in 2010 throughout the state. According to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles crash statistics report, careless driving caused a total of 332 deaths or more than 18 percent of traffic fatalities in 2010. Drunk drivers caused almost 15 percent of traffic deaths on Florida roadways last year. In total, 389 people were killed by a motorist driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both at the time of the accident. Speed-related accidents were a contributing cause in almost 12 percent of traffic fatalities in 2010.

Driver distraction is noted to have caused only seven deaths in Florida in 2010 but the reality is that law enforcement rarely reports when driver inattention causes an accident. Failure to report this factor in most accidents leads to the misconception that distractions aren’t a contributing factor in fatal crashes. We all know how distractions make us lose our focus on driving and lead to more close calls than we care to admit.

Make a commitment to drive distraction-free, follow speed limits, never drink and drive, and drive defensively to help make it safer for everyone over the holidays and the following months.
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Recently at the Edmunds Safety Conference in Washington D.C., the president of the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety highlighted 50 years of progress and discussed how to reduce injuries and deaths from motor vehicle crashes. In 1961, the motor vehicle crash death rate was almost 50 deaths per billion miles traveled on public roads. In 1966, it reached an all-time high of 55 deaths per billion miles. Slowly, the death rate has dropped. In 2009, it was just more than 11 deaths per billion miles traveled,

Our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers applaud the efforts of reducing vehicle crashes but realize more work needs to be done to reduce the risk of Fort Lauderdale car accidents.

The past:

In 1966, Congress created the National Highway Safety Bureau, which now is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The first federal motor vehicle safety standards were issued in 1967 and 1968. Fuel tank integrity requirements were developed and they have been upgraded since in 1976 and again in 2003. In 1971, roof strength requirements were established and later in 2009 they were upgraded significantly.

NHTSA in 1978 made available to the public vehicle safety test information. Testing began with full-frontal crashes and has progressed to side impact crashes in 1997 and just recently to a side-pole test. The mid-1980s saw more states enact seat belt laws, which increased seat belt use.

Also during this time, organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving brought public awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving, and laws were enacted to punish those driving while intoxicated.

In 1986, automatic protection was required for unbelted occupantsm which led to the introduction of frontal airbags. In 1990, side impact protection was upgraded and was included in crash testing. Laws began in the mid-1990s for graduated licensing, which has reduced the fatal crash rate for passenger vehicle drivers ages 16-18.

Other factors have contributed to fewer fatalities on our roadways, including more congested roads leading to lower driving speeds, safer road designs and less people on the roads due to the poor economy.

The future:

Technology such as forward collision warning, turn-by-turn navigation, lane-keeping and side-view assistance and adaptive headlamps exist on vehicles already. More than 10,000 fatal crashes and nearly 2 million crashes might not have happened if vehicles were equipped with lane departure warning, forward collision warning, side view assist and adaptive headlamps, estimates IIHS.

DADDS, an alcohol detection system could prevent drivers who are above the legal limit from operating their vehicles. IIHS estimates that in 2009, 7,400 crash deaths might have been avoided if no vehicle could have been operated by a driver who was over the legal limit of .08.

As part of the IIHS 50th anniversary celebration in 2009, they conducted a head-on crash test at 40 mph between 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. Many thought the beefier Bel Air would destroy the Malibu, but it didn’t. The passenger compartment of the Bel Air collapse, and the crash dummy was impaled by the steering wheel. The Malibu’s crash dummy was unharmed, and the front end absorbed the impact, leaving the passenger compartment intact.

Technology is the wave of the future, but safer driving behaviors can ultimately make the difference in passenger and driver safety. Drivers should do their part by practicing safe driving behaviors but be reminded negligent drivers can be held accountable for their actions. Contact an experienced car accident attorney if you are the victim of a distracted driving or other car-related accident.
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WSVN reported on the tragic death of a teenager after a hit-and-run accident.

Our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers know that we have one of the deadliest states for pedestrian accidents. An experienced attorney will help you discover the responsible party, identify their insurance company, and gather the evidence needed to build a strong case for your injury claim.

The accident occurred near the intersection of Northwest 27th Avenue and 199th Street, according to Florida Highway Patrol. The 14-year-old was walking with his older brother returning home from shopping when a pickup truck hit him and kept going. Good Samaritans offered assistance until paramedics arrived on the scene. The child was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died from him injuries.

Injuries from a pedestrian accident caused by a car, truck or bus can be devastating. Such injuries can include disfigurement, fractured bones, brain and head trauma, spinal cord injuries, paraplegia and quadriplegia.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there were 4,092 pedestrian deaths and 59,000 pedestrians injured in 2009. Their deaths made up 12 percent of all traffic fatalities. In Florida there were 2,558 total traffic-related fatalities. Of these, 466 were pedestrians. Ranking only behind California (563) for the state with the most pedestrian deaths.

Some safety tips that may help prevent a pedestrian from being involved in an accident include:

-Obey the traffic signals and cross the street only at a crosswalk.

-At night, carry a flashlight and wear reflective material.

-Watch for vehicles that may be backing up or turning.

-Always make eye contact with the driver before crossing the street in front of their car.

-Before crossing always look left, right and then left again.

-Don’t be using a cell phone or listening to music while crossing the street.

-Walk quickly but never run when crossing the street.

-Only walk on sidewalks and pathways.

-If pathways and sidewalks are not available, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
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