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Distracted Driving in Illinois Will Cost You

It’s early Monday morning and you are slowly making your way to work through traffic on the highway. (Don’t picture yourself on 90 though, because that would be an absolute nightmare!) No, instead you are cruising at great speed on I-294 when one of your clients gives you a call on your cell phone.

In your line of work, it’s very important that you be accessible by phone, so naturally you answer the call. You drive and talk for about 20 minutes until you start to notice a state trooper trailing closely behind you.

Your heart drops and you start to get a little nervous. You look down at your speedometer though and notice you are only driving five miles above the speed limit. That can’t be it then. You ask yourself, “Did I signal while I was shifting lanes?” He continues to trail closely, but you know you didn’t do anything wrong. Just to be sure though, you let your client know you will give them a call right back. As soon as you hang up the phone, the police lights start up and the sirens start blaring. This is the last thing you need on a Monday morning!

You pull over and you know what happens next. The trooper asks for your driver’s licence and insurance, and asks you if you know why you were pulled over this morning. With a confused glare you say, “Well, I know I wasn’t speeding, so actually, no. I don’t know why I was pulled over.” The trooper looks at you sideways and says, “Well, you were talking on the phone while driving, and in Illinois, that is illegal.”

Illinois Bans Hand-Held Cell Use While Driving

You may be saying to yourself, “Wait a minute, no it’s not. Only texting while driving is illegal in Illinois.” That may be true now, but come January 2014 that will no longer be the case. Just last month Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed two new laws against distracted driving that take effect January 1, 2014. One of those laws prohibits the use of any hand-held mobile device while driving. The other law increases the penalties you would face if you cause an accident from distracted driving.

Needless to say, if you are accustomed to talking on the phone while driving, it is in your best interest to either get a bluetooth device, or start trying to get out of the habit now. We have a feeling that once this law goes into effect, police officers and state troopers will be 100 percent ready to start doling out tickets- if only just to ensure that Illinois residents are aware of the new law.

Over the past few years we have all heard the complaints and assertions that driving while talking on the phone is dangerous. We should all know now that texting while driving is not only dangerous, but deadly. In fact, the USDOT reports that distracted driving caused 387,000 injuries and over 3,000 deaths across the country in 2011. We can all say that distracted driving is dangerous, but when you see the statistics, it is much more real. However, there is no better way to get people to pay attention than to mess with their money.

Fines for Talking While Driving

No one is a fan of fines or moving violations. Unfortunately, the cost of breaking the law can be pretty steep. Under the new law, the fines are as follows:

  • Talking While Driving, 1st offense = $75 fine/ticket
  • Talking While Driving, subsequent offenses = +$25 for each additional offense with a maximum of $150
  • Causing bodily harm in an accident caused by distracted driving = 1 year in prison
  • Causing a fatality in an accident caused by distracted driving = 1-3 years in prison

Under the current law, you would only face traffic violations if you caused an accident that resulted in an injury or a fatality. A prison sentence is a pretty steep increase.

Are We Willing To Pay Such Price For Safety?

Although they may make some of our lives a bit more difficult, it is hard to deny the reason these new laws were put in place: safety. If hundreds of thousands of people are getting injured on the roads each year as a direct result of distracted driving, it makes sense to create laws that combat it. However, once laws like this start to go into effect it can be difficult to know where to draw the line.

If talking on a hand-held mobile device while driving is considered a distraction, what about using an iPod in the car or sifting through radio stations? What about talking to a passenger in the car, using a GPS device or eating while driving? These are things that many people do and surely they can distract drivers as well, but there are no laws that prevent them- yet.

If these new laws start to combat distracted driving, how far will they go? How far will the government go to ensure we are all safe on the road? And perhaps the most important question is, how many of your rights are you willing to give up in the name of safety?

What do you think of the new laws? Do you think laws like this could potentially lead to more invasive laws down the line? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

4 of the Riskiest Highways in the U.S.

Can you remember the last time your were driving on a road and were legitimately scared? Those of us living in the Midwest may only encounter this kind of fear in the winter- when the roads are slick with ice- but if you live up in the mountains where the terrain is a bit more elevated, you may be shaking your head yes with fervor. Truth is, roads can be downright dangerous sometimes! The worst part is that the road doesn’t even have to be up in the mountains or on a steep hill to be dangerous.

Most of the time, what makes roads dangerous are the people driving on them. Since we’ve been in the trucking industry for nearly a decade now, we certainly know how truckers on the road are viewed. In fact, we discussed an infographic just the other week that reminded drivers who the real threat on the highways are.

We can tell you right now, it’s not truckers!

U.S. Roads Are Dangerous

Unfortunately though, despite our high-tech developments and interstate highway system, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks U.S. roads as much more dangerous than most northern European countries at 11 highway deaths per 100,000 population per year. No wonder so many companies are heading towards driverless vehicles and transport. Regardless, we still have to travel on the roads for now.

So, for your information and safety, we want you to know what some of the most dangerous roads in the U.S. are. And if you find yourself traveling on any of these roads, be careful!

Interstate 26 in South Carolina (I-26)

The I-26 is an east-west highway that also happens to be the longest interstate highway in the state of South Carolina. Though it may be the longest in the state, there are short sections of the highway that are really dangerous. In fact, the Charleston Post and the Courier reported that from years 2000 to 2010 325 people died in 286 crashes on the I-26 in South Carolina. Much of this highway’s danger comes from lack of guardrails and steep slopes on the sides of the road. Clearly that could make for a dangerous ride.

Dalton Highway in Alaska

To start, there are a few steep mountain ranges in Alaska. When you add the fact that it gets quite cold and icy there it can become dangerous to drive. Well, this highway is a 414-mile dirt road that was made driveable in 1974. Truckers on this side of the coast should be familiar with the highway as it is often used to supply oil and gas to businesses. It was used solely for truckers until 1994 when it was made available for public/tourist use. The two-lane highway winds around Brooks Range and is so dangerous there are helicopter patrols twice a day checking for accidents.

Perhaps most alarming is the fact that temperatures in this area reached -80 degrees Fahrenheit in 1971. If that’s not cold enough to keep travelers away, we are not sure what is! Yahoo! reports that although there are about 10 crashes per year, it has a less-than-one fatality rate. Good news, but we think we would still stay away from this one.

Highway 2 in Montana

Did you know that Montana has the highest fatality rate in the U.S.? Perhaps that is because Montana has a ton of rural roads, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration stated that rural roads are more dangerous than urban. You may oppose this at first thought, but think about it for a second. If you are on a rural road, how long will it take for an ambulance or medical assistance to reach you? In rural areas, everything is so spread out- and that includes medical assistance. In fact, it takes medics an average of 80 minutes to get to crash victims in rural areas. Unfortunately, those statistics tend to make roads in remote and rural areas much more dangerous.

The I-15 from LA to Las Vegas

If you are going to blame the danger of this road on Las Vegas, you are kind of right. Yahoo! reports there are more than 8 million people driving back and forth between these two states on this stretch of highway every year. In fact, the Nevada AAA has stated that the 180-mile stretch has more fatalities than anywhere else in the state of Nevada. However, at least half of those fatalities can be blamed on travelers not wearing their seat belt. We’re not going to lie, we love Las Vegas. But the number of drivers coming to and from there that are drunk and/or distracted is pretty high.

Therefore, if you are going to be driving on this highway- for whatever reason- please be sure to wear your seat belt. You may be distracted, and hopefully not drunk, but at least you will be wearing your seat belt.

Have you driven on any of these roads lately? Let us know about it in the comments section below!

Buyers Beware: Online Auto Sale Scams

It’s almost like the perfect scam: offer buyers a way to bi-pass the sleezy car salesman at the dealership, and purchase a car directly online. Sounds like a great deal. The only problem? Sometimes there is no car, and other times the car is damaged goods.

In a recent article from the StarTribune, they discuss some of the most recent online auto scams and how the Better Business Bureau (BBB) suspects these scams will continue to flourish. The most recent scam involves purchasing vehicles online. Though it may not seem like the safest and most logical way to purchase a car, it’s very appealing to those who would rather not deal with the trip to the car dealership. The website offers them pictures of the supposed vehicle, albeit fake, and the buyer can easily purchase the car online.

Also Read: The Biggest Auto Transport Mistakes to Avoid

However, once the money is sent, the transaction is over. The fake website never sends a vehicle and the buyer is left with thousands of dollars in the hole. Scams like this have been popping for a few years now, and the BBB has shut down quite a few. But since creating a website anonymously is so easy these days, the BBB expects these scams to flourish. In fact, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reports that between the years 2008 and 2010 alone buyers lost nearly $44.5 million in these online scams.

So what should you look out for in these online auto sale scams?

3 Signs of an Online Auto Scam

Price

If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. One buyer told the StarTribune that he purchased a Corvette he had wanted his entire life for $35,000. Depending on the condition and age of the vehicle, this price may have been spot on or entirely too low. Either way, as an informed buyer be sure to compare and contrast the price of the vehicle you are looking to purchase online. By doing a ton of research and knowing what the cost of your vehicle should be, you can more easily weed out the scam websites.

Company Address

In the case of most online auto sale scams, the address listed for the business is fake. Before you send or wire money to any online company for a purchase as large as a vehicle, make sure the company actually exists! In one of the cases reported, the potential buyer looked up the address for the company in Minnesota and had one of his relatives that lived in the area check it out. When his relative arrived at the given address, it was a completely different company that knew nothing about online auto sales.

If possible, try to check out the address of the company before making a purchase. This can be very difficult though since most buyers looking to purchase a vehicle online are purchasing it from somewhere far away. Do as much research as possible and if you have a relative, friend or acquaintance in the area, have them check the company’s address out.

Absence of Testimonials

Word of mouth and recommendation is how many companies stay afloat these days. If you take a look at the company’s website and there seems to be no sign of a review, testimonial or rating, then the site may be bad news. Reputable companies flourish from customer reviews, while shady or scam companies may try everything in their power to keep negative reviews hidden. As with any large purchase, be sure to do your research and check up on the company’s reputation before sending any money their way.

Online Auto Sales and Car Shipping

Unfortunately, bogus online auto sales are not the only thing buyers need to be weary of these days. Some online auto companies may actually be legitimate, but they may not do business in the most honest way.
When a company sells vehicles online, the customer is not able to inspect the vehicle and ensure it is up-to-par as advertised. That means that online they may say the vehicle is in tip-top shape.

However, when the vehicle is shipped to you by the owner you may notice damages that were not noted on the site. If the online company uses an auto transport company to ship the vehicle to you, they can easily blame the damages on the shippers.

Also Read: Highway Herstory: American Women in Trucking

When a vehicle is picked up for transport, the owner of the vehicle and the trucker are supposed to take the time to carefully inspect the vehicle for pre-existing damages. Once those damages are assessed, they are marked on a document called the Bill of Lading. Both the shipper and the trucker must sign the Bill of Lading before the vehicle can be shipped. However, if the vehicle is shipped at night or is covered by a layer of dust, it’s easy to overlook pre-existing damages. Once the vehicle is delivered to the buyer on the other end, they realize how many damages the car actually has.

Also Read: Damage as a Result of an Accident

Since the Bill of Lading was signed by both the trucker and the online company, it could be months before the dispute is settled. Meanwhile, the customer spent thousands of dollars on a damaged vehicle. In some cases, the damage to the vehicle may not even be visible from the exterior, so it can be impossible to know until you drive it for the first time.

While purchasing a car online sounds like a great idea, buyers must beware. Know of the scams that currently exist and always do your research before making a purchase online. In the end, the added time and effort could save you thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Have you ever purchased a vehicle online? How did it turn out? Let us know about it in the comments section below!

The Biggest Auto Transport Mistakes to Avoid

Montway Auto Transport has been in the business for a number of years and we’ve noticed a few mistakes that consumers repeatedly make when shipping their cars.  We’ve put together this handy list to help educate consumers looking to transport their car.  The first five mistakes happen during the booking process and the last two occur during the transport process itself.

1. Giving your phone number to get a quote

Avoid sites advertising “7 quotes in a minute” or “Compare 10 quotes”.  While at first glance this sounds like a great deal, in reality this means you will be getting called instantly from several companies all hoping to book the job.  You will likely be getting calls for several days and will wish you hadn’t given out your phone number.  It’s far better to call for a quote than to give out your number in order to get a quote for shipping.

In the case of Montway, we do indeed provide instant online quotes (with no phone number needed) which can be booked immediately online or within seven days.  We’re also here to provide quotes over the phone by calling 1-888-666-8929 if you’d prefer that option.

2. Believing that anyone will ship your car across the country for $500 or less

The old saying of “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is doubly true double in the auto transport industry.  Some companies will say anything to get your business and leave you disappointed when they don’t deliver—either literally or figuratively.  They will require you to either pay more to get the vehicle shipped or the vehicle will sit while you wait endlessly to ship your vehicle for the promised rate —which may never happen.  It typically costs about $1,000 to ship a car cross country.  Be very leery of anyone promising significantly less than these rates.

3. Trusting an auto transporter who is Guaranteeing a certain pickup date

If you talk to someone who is guaranteeing that they will pick up your vehicle on a specific date for no extra cost is simply telling you what you want to hear in order to get your business.  They may get lucky and be able to pick up on the promised date, but there is simply no way anyone can know what the exact pickup date will be at the time of placing an order.  Be especially cautious if that guaranteed date is today or tomorrow —the shorter the notice, the less likely the guaranteed date will be fulfilled.  Be aware that someone quoting a guaranteed pickup or dropoff date is not being fully honest with you.

4. Paying a non-refundable deposit

Many auto transport companies that quote low-ball rates or tell you what you want to hear to get your business will charge a deposit of up to a few hundred dollars and will not refund it, even if they are unable to ship your car for the promised rate or on the promised date. Before booking, make sure any money paid before transport is fully refundable in the event that the transport company does not deliver as promised.  Montway provides a full refund for any cancelations made before services are provided.

5. Not checking reviews 

It is critically important to research a prospective auto transport company before booking by checking their reviews on independent third party sites.  It’s equally important to look at the average rating of reviews as well as the total number of reviews posted.  You should only consider a company with numerous positive reviews.  A company with few or no reviews probably hasn’t been in business long and may not provide top-notch service.

6. Not marking damage at delivery on the Bill of Lading

Sometimes during the auto transport processes, accidents do happen.  All damage is fully covered by insurance and you won’t have to pay a dime out of pocket.  However, to make sure you are protected, it is vitally important to mark any existing damage on the “Bill of Lading” at the point of pickup and then mark any new damage at the time of delivery.  A properly marked and signed Bill of Lading will make the insurance claim process much smoother.

7. Trying to withhold payment from the driver at delivery, for any reason

When the vehicle reaches the destination, regardless of the condition, payment for freight services must be made.  This is U.S. Federal Law as outlined in Section 10761 of the Interstate Commerce Act (49 USC 10761).  In the event that damage occurs en route, payment must still be made at the time of delivery if there is any balance due.  Freight charges and insurance claims are two completely separate transactions and insurance claims will not be paid without first paying freight charges in full.

You may not even be able to file a claim until freight charges are paid.  Withholding payment only makes things more difficult, not easier.  If you book your car transport with Montway, in the event of any damage, make sure you mark all damages on the Bill of Lading, keep your copy of it, then pay the trucker any money owed, give us a call and we’ll assist you in the insurance claim process.

Congratulations!

You are now one of the most knowledgeable consumers when it comes to auto transport.  With great power comes great responsibility so please use your newfound powers for good.  We hope this information helps you make an informed and wise decision for your next auto transport.

Considering live chat software for customer service? Follow these guidelines to make your chat tool work efficiently for your business and your customers.

Adding live chat support to a website has become a trendy move in recent years. Many companies wanted to match the expectations of a new generation of customers who thought starting a chat was more convenient than making a phone call. Additionally, website owners were attracted to live chat because of the potential cost savings.

As we see it in practice, however, live chat in itself is not able to give good results unless it is handled professionally. There are so many websites where, upon clicking a live chat link, you discover there is no one to answer your questions, or the help you are offered is so limited that you could have browsed the FAQ pages and gotten the same result. Live chat pays off only when customers can receive the help they want from it in a timely, efficient and professional manner

1. Maintain sufficient online presence in chat support.

Website visitors don’t like seeing a live chat link on your website and not actually being able to chat with a real person. It’s ideal to offer 24/7 chat support, because this gives your customers the freedom to ask a question at any time from the comfort of their home, office or even while traveling. If you can’t afford the luxury of round-the-clock service, it is good to specify the exact hours during which you will be available for a chat.

2. Brand your chat window by adding your company logo.

Customers need to be able to recognize your company no matter what part of your website they are viewing or what tool they are using. Even if you are using a third-party tool for your live chat, which is hosted on your provider’s server and has a different URL from your website, you need to let your customers know they are chatting with your company and not someone else. For this, add your company logo to the live chat messenger and customize the look of it to match the overall design of your website. This will tell your customers right away they are in the right place to ask their question.

3. Don’t let your customers wait for too long.

Customers expect their chat to be answered within one or two minutes at the most. If you keep them waiting more than that, they will most likely abandon the chat and will not see your answer even if you did answer at a later time. If you want to maintain your chat support line in a professional manner, then make sure your support agents are timely notified of an incoming chat and are instructed to pick up chat requests quickly.

4. Be careful when putting customers on hold.

No doubt, putting customers on hold is something you cannot totally avoid in customer service. If you want to offer quality help, many times you will need to ask the customer to wait until you find out the information concerning their request. You need to give special attention to the art of putting customers on hold when training support agents. The most important things are to ask customers is if they are OK to wait for a few moments, to tell them how much time approximately they will need to wait for, and to check back with them if their request takes more time than expected.

5. Let your support agents learn your product well.

Most of us have encountered a situation when a support rep cannot give a qualified answer regarding a product or service the company is offering or even worse, gives incorrect information about it. We are all human and if a real person is answering questions, mistakes are bound to happen. This, however, does not lessen the importance of giving a really thorough training to your support agents in every product or service your company is offering. Moreover, this type of training needs to be continuous through the agent’s employment, because products and services change and evolve, and we tend to forget the details.

6. Train your live chat operators in soft skills.

One may think that because the customer does not hear the voice of the operator during a live chat, they cannot really tell what intonation the operator has when answering. However, how a phrase is built and the type of language used tells the customer a lot about how one is being treated, whether it is with courtesy and respect or one is just being shaken off. If you are aiming for high-class, professional live chat service, paying attention to soft skills and teaching your agents to handle different aspects of a conversation properly, will add up a lot to the general impression customers will have on your service.

7. Offer your customers alternative contact options.

Live chat is a very easy, efficient and cost-effective communication channel, but don’t try to force all of your customers into this funnel. There are some old-school users who are used to phone support, there are others who find email to be the easiest way to get in touch with a brand. Leave all of those choices to your customers if you want to be knowns as a brand with great customer service. A great way to let your customers know of the alternatives is to share the other contact options right in the chat messenger, so that when your chat is offline, customers will see there are other ways they can get in touch with you.

6 TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE BEST WEB HOST

Choosing the best web host for your website can be a confusing process and not one you should take lightly.If you’re just getting started with learning to code and don’t yet have a web host, it likely won’t be long before you begin the search for one so you can set up your first website and put your coding skills to the test.

However, with so many web hosting companies out there, it’s not easy to know which one to work with–and it’s definitely not a decision you should make at random either. With that in mind, use the following tips to help you choose the best web host for your next web project.

 

1. CONSIDER YOUR SPECIFIC NEEDS

Unfortunately, choosing the best web host isn’t as simple as picking one from a list. Everyone’s idea of “best” will depend on their unique needs.

For example, if you want to start working with WordPress, you’ll be best off choosing a host like Bluehost or HostGator that’s popular among WordPress users. If you’re planning to run an e-commerce site, you’ll need a host that can accommodate the e-commerce software you want to use.

Before you start shopping for web hosts, sit down and outline what you need from a web host. Consider the following questions:

  1. What type of site will you be creating? For example, will you be working with WordPress or creating a static HTML website?
  2. Will you be creating more than one site? Some hosts allow you to create multiple sites from the same account.
  3. How much traffic do you expect to receive each month? Be realistic. This will help determine how much resources you need. If you plan to grow your traffic over time, you may need a host that offers scalability in their package offerings.
  4. What technical requirements will you require for your site? Most coding languages like HTML and CSS don’t have special requirements, but if you’re working with PHP, for example, you’ll need to find a host who can cater to that language.
  5. Do you need extra features, such as email hosting or an SSL certificate? Be sure the host you choose offers what you’re looking for (and at a reasonable rate).
  6. What is your monthly budget? Knowing this can help you weed out certain hosts and packages before you waste time comparing features of hosts outside your range.

2. LOOK INTO HOSTING RELIABILITY AND SPEED

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a web host is the host’s reliability and uptime scores. Obviously, you want your site to be operating as often as possible. Even a few minutes of downtime per day can lead to lost revenue and a poor customer experience.

While no host can guarantee their servers will be active 100 percent of the time, there are many companies that boast uptimes of 99.5 percent and higher. Avoid hosting companies that report anything below 99 percent.

In addition to uptime, you’ll want to choose a host with fast servers. There are plenty of ways to speed up your website, but if your site is on a slow server, it doesn’t matter how many other tweaks you make to it; it will always be slow.

Speed may not seem important to a beginner with little web traffic, but it will become increasingly important as your site grows. According to KISSmetrics, a one-second delay in page speed reduces customer satisfaction by 16 percent. Furthermore, 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Tiny delays can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

To find reliability and speed stats on a given host, start by looking at their website, and then browse through online reviews to get a feel for how other customers’ sites have performed with that host.

 

3. KNOW YOUR UPGRADE OPTIONS

Generally, shared web hosting is a good place to start because it’s cheap and suits most beginners’ needs. However, your needs may not stay the same forever. As your website grows, you may find yourself needing more bandwidth, email storage, and other resources.

Don’t be fooled by unmetered or unlimited offers, either. In many cases, your service agreement will allow your host to throttle website performance after a certain amount of use, which can drastically slow your website speeds. Some agreements even allow hosts to shut down your site or require you to upgrade if you’re using up too many resources.

That’s why you’ll want to look for a host that offers room to grow. Though you might start out on a shared hosting plan, a host that also offers VPS hosting and dedicated hosting will be able to help you make the transition to a new server easier as your site grows.

4. EXPLORE SECURITY FEATURES

Another important aspect to consider in a web host is their security features. This is especially true if you’re planning to run a website that stores or transports sensitive data, such as customers’ credit card numbers.

Start by looking at whether or not the host runs firewalls or malware detection on their servers. Ask them if they monitor their servers for unusual activity. Look for a host that offers SSL certificates to ensure that the data sent over your site remains secure and encrypted. Some hosts also offer IP deny services, which allow you to block specific IP addresses, such as those that might come from groups of hackers.

Finally, you’ll want to look into whether or not the host offers frequent site backups. Even with a range of security measures in place, it’s never a guarantee that your site won’t be hacked or compromised through another disaster. If your host offers backup services, you’ll be able to quickly restore your site in the event of a crisis.

Look for hosts that back up your site every 24 hours, especially if you plan to continuously update your site. That way, if any data is lost, you’ll only lose a few hours’ worth of changes.

5. LOOK FOR QUALITY CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Good customer support can mean all the difference with a hosting provider, especially if you need a bit of hand-holding to get your site up and running. During your research process, look to see what sort of support channels are available, such as live chat, email, or phone support.

Also take a look at each host’s support hours. Some hosts offer customer support 24/7, while others are only available during business hours, which can make them difficult to get ahold of when you need support ASAP.

Finally, read reviews for each host you look at to get a feel for the quality of support they offer. Look for reviews that mention how timely and knowledgeable (or not) the support staff is–keeping in mind, of course, that people often only leave reviews when their experience was either very positive or very negative, which might skew the feedback.

 

6. RESEARCH PRICES

Obviously you want to choose a hosting package that suits your budget. However, when researching prices, it’s important to look beyond the initial monthly price you’re shown.

First of all, consider that many hosting providers feature introductory deals for first-time users. After your first billing term, your plan will renew at the normal price. Be sure you’re not just budgeting for the introductory price but can afford the regular rate as well.

Also compare the price of other packages the host offers. If you go with the cheapest option now but decide to upgrade your plan later, you could end up paying more for that upgraded package than you might with another host.Finally, be sure to look at the cost of add-ons and extra services. Some hosts, for example, charge extra for email hosting, while others include that in their base rate.

Finally, be sure to look at the cost of add-ons and extra services. Some hosts, for example, charge extra for email hosting, while others include that in their base rate.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a web host, and it all starts with knowing what your needs are so you can find the host best suited to you. What will you be looking for in your ideal web host? Tell us in the comments below.

How to choose a Good WebSite Hosting Company

There are many hosting companies that you can choose from to host your websites, from large enterprises such as BT to SME’s and even hosting your website on your local computer. You as a business and website owner need to decide which is the best solution for your website, at the end of the day you want the best for your business, as its your bread and butter, and sometimes it may also mean paying a bit more for a better service.

What is hosting

Hosting is the space on a server which you can rent, that will store your website files, which will then be accessible on the World Wide Web (www). You can rent or purchase different types of servers, such as Windows Server or a Linux Server. You would choose the type of server depending on what time of website you are going to store on the server.

What to look for in a hosting company.

What should one look for in hosting companies, as sometimes you can get a bit confused with all the features that are available for offer. Below are some of the main features and points you should look for in a hosting company.

Space:

Probably the most common and obvious one to look for is to see how much web space they are offering you. Is the space going to be sufficient for what you are looking to do with your website, or is it worth paying slightly more and getting more space. Many Hosting companies also offer unlimited hosting space, also ensure that you read the small print, is there a fair usage policy or are they actually offering unlimited hosting space.

Bandwidth:

Many hosting companies don’t make this clear, but this is something that goes hand in hand with the hosting space. Bandwidth is the amount of data your server allows your visitors to download and upload from your website. As every time someone goes to your website it bites into your bandwidth (a very small amount) but still counts. So if you have a busy website with allot of traffic, before you know it, your bandwidth is all finished, and your hosting company has either disabled your website, or are charging you for extra bandwidth. 
A website that also has video streaming and images, will also take up a lot of bandwidth, if you are looking to build a website of such kind, it might be better for you to have your own dedicated server. A basic static brochure site with couple of pages, a standard hosting package would be sufficient. Its always a good idea to also check the bandwidth that your hosting company is offering you with your package, so that you do not get any unexpected surprises, when your bandwidth is all used up.


Email Services
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One of the services you would be using on a day-to-day biases. Having a domain and a hosting package with a company, you would normally expect that it also include emails. Check to see what type of email features they offer (POP, IMAP, Exchange), along with how much space they give you per inbox. Some hosting companies don’t include emails in their packages, and charge extra per email, so it’s best to check how many email inboxes are included, along with how much control you have over your emails. You being a business owner, you want to add and disable emails at your figure tips, it’s a good feature to have within your hosting control panel.

Database:

Many websites run on databases, all CMS platforms, Forums, and web portals, require some sort of database. Ensure if you are having a website of such nature that your hosting company offers database access such as MySQL. Some website may also require more then one database. If you’re unsure about what database and how many is included, double-checked with the provider before committing to anything.

Support :

Everyone needs help at times, sometimes things don’t go to plan, or they stop working. In such cases whom do you contact, if it is something to do with the server, you will need be in touch with your hosting company. Some hosting companies offer free support via a free telephone number, and some just offer an online support via a ticketing system. Make sure that you’re familiar with the support process, and your happy with it.

Reliability:

Before making the final choice, I would advise you to read some reviews and feedbacks on that hosting company, to see how reliable the are, do they offer exactly what they state, and how reliable are the servers, the last thing you want is that your website keeps going down due to server problems, ask someone that you know who has bought the service of them, or search for them online. You will always find someone will have something to say about the company whether it’s good or bad. This will help you to understand from a customer’s point of view of what service and experience they are having with the company.

Security:

Going online, security is also a big concern, especially if you would be hosting an e-commerce or a portal on the server. Find out the security measure that the hosting company has in place to protect the servers from being hacked or corrupted. Also ensure that they backup on regular bases, and also offer you the option of backing up your files on the server from your control panel.

Extensions & Modules:

Many hosting companies now offer one click installations for open source platforms, such as Joomla, Magneto, WordPress…etc. Which saves you the hassle of manually installing such platforms, it’s a good plus point to have, and to save you time, and also ensure that the installation is done correctly. Find out what extensions they have and also what extensions can your hosting company support. If your building a website which requires a certain script or languages which your hosting company does not support, your website will not work.

These are some of the main factors to consider when choosing a hosting company, the main thing is that you should be comfortable and satisfied with the service they have in place, as that’s where you would be storing your valuable website files.

10 Important Tips for Choosing your Web Hosting Provider

When it comes time to select who will be hosting your website, keep in mind that your web host is, in a way your business partner. Their service and performance could directly impact on your business so I’ve put together a list of my top 10 tips for choosing a web hosting provider:

Reliability and Uptime

You really want this to be top of the list. If you host on a server that is only online 50% of the time then you’ll be losing half your visitors, business and income! Your web host should guarantee its uptime. You won’t ever find a host that has 100% uptime – but look for web hosts that at least guarantee a minimum of 99.5% uptime. Also check out the host’s redundancy – ask them what resources are available in the event of a utility failure? For example, a backup generator and uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

Support

Following on from your server’s reliability, it’s a good idea to look for a host that will provide great, timely customer support. Customer support need not be via phone – email support is just as good as it provides a thread should an issue need to be escalated. Your website’s server and network should be monitored 24/7 – that includes public holidays!

Data backup

Choose a company that backs up your files. Then if the unforeseen happens, your website can be restored. Find out how often your server will be backed up. Remember, you should always archive your website files on your own hard drive in case of that meteor strike!

Find out where your server will be based

Find out the physical location of your web host’s servers as many New Zealand Web Hosting providers host their servers offshore, usually in large data centres in the USA. If your target audience is local, then New Zealand based servers are a good choice. You’ll find your host easier to deal with if both the support team and data centre are in the same time zone. It also means faster access for your visitors making their visit to your site more enjoyable!

Flexibility

You may just be getting your business off the ground but it’s always good to look for a web host that will allow you to easily upgrade your plan in the future. This may include increasing disk space, number of email accounts or extra data traffic allowances as your business grows.

Disk space and Data transfer

Don’t cut yourself short on disk space and data transfer (bandwidth/traffic) when picking a plan. Most websites consume a very small amount of disk space, but you should allow room for growth, and space for email storage. Investigate if the host provides warning emails as you approach critical limits and ensure they won’t surprise you with excess fees for exceeding your monthly bandwidth traffic allowance.

Server features

The operating system of your server may determine the types of scripts you can run. Whether you require a Linux or Windows server will depend on what you plan to do with your site. Linux servers are often cheaper and more stable, but if you need to host ASP scripts then you have no choice but to look for a Windows web host. Check with your host to ensure these minimum features are available with your plan:

  • FTP, SSH
  • PHP, Perl, CGI
  • Subdomains
  • Statistics and logs
  • FrontPage extensions
  • Email

Think about how many email accounts you will require and how you’ll access email sent to your domain name. When overseas or away from your computer, WebMail is handy and allows you to pop into an internet café to check your mail. Other features to consider when choosing your host include:

  • Number of email aliases included in your plan
  • Is email forwarding available?
  • Can you setup auto-responders?
  • Is there a catch-all account included?
  • POP3 and IMAP access for checking mail on your mobile.

Ease of use / Control Panel Site Management Tools

Choose a host that allows you to manage the different aspects of your web and email account yourself. An easy to use web based control panel should be provided. Ask to see a demo of the host’s control panels. This way you can get a feel for how you’ll be managing your website’s server.

Payment plan

Check your host’s payment plans, as many will allow you to choose the right plan for your sites budget and needs. Don’t be forced to pay for a year in advance if you don’t want to.

The impact that your web hosting provider has on your business is quite critical. You need to be happy, so before handing over your credit card details, test them out by sending an email to see how fast they answer, how friendly they are and their degree of knowledge. It’s better to spend the time now checking them out rather than having to switch later.

Highway Herstory: American Women in Trucking

Women make up only 5.2 percent of truck drivers today and trucking is still defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as a nontraditional (read, male-dominated,) occupation. However, the autonomy, self-reliance, and adventures of travel that come with the job appeal to a wide range of personalities. “We have a boss, but forget a lot of the time,” said April Halter, a commercial truck driver for Pride Transportation. As you will see in the following stories, some of America’s roughest and toughest women treaded and thrived on the highways of truck-driving history.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we take a look at some of the pioneers and most popular women in the history of truck driving in America.

Riding Shotgun

Hauling freight began with wagons and stagecoaches. Annie Box Neal is famous for riding shotgun–literally–alongside her husband William “Curly” Neal on his stagecoach delivery run through Tucson, Arizona, in 1892. At the age of 22 she was well-known as a sharpshooter, and invaluable at helping to protect her husband’s freight, which was often gold bullion.

Mary Fields, better known as “Stagecoach Mary,” was the first Black woman and the second woman to work for the U.S. Postal Service. She began her route at the age of 60 and gained her name and reputation for being the fastest and most reliable delivery driver in Cascade, Montana. Fields was known for delivering through inclement weather and protecting herself on dangerous roadways. Actor Gary Cooper, who Fields babysat when he was a young boy, wrote about her in Ebony in Oct. 1977, “She was one of the freest souls to ever draw a breath or a .38.”

Also Read:Holiday travel safety tips! Be advised the roads will be busy….

Calamity Jane Cannary, claimed in her autobiography to have worked for the Pony Express in 1876, and describes the experience of an early freight-hauler in vivid detail,

“During the month of June, I acted as a pony express rider carrying the U.S. mail between Deadwood and Custer over one of the roughest trails in the Black Hills country. Many riders before me had been held up and robbed of their packages, mail and money that they carried for that was the only means of getting mail and money between these points. It was considered the most dangerous route in the Black Hills but as my reputation as a rider and quick shot was well known I was molested very little, for the toll gatherers looked on me as a good fellow and they knew I never missed my mark.”

Steering a “Man’s Job”

Luella Bates became the spokeswoman for the Four Wheel Drive Corporations cross-country campaign in 1919, one of six women chosen specifically to show how easily the company’s new truck steering could be handled.

In 1929, Lillie Drennan became the first female licensed truck driver and the first woman to own a trucking business, the Drennan Truck Line, Texas. She operated the company for twenty-four years and had an impeccable safety record

Also Read:Things to Remember if Your Car Breaks Down

At the start of World War II, few women were in uniforms besides nurses’ whites, but by 1945, over a quarter of a million women had served in the US military. Alaskan highway pioneer Rusty Dow was well-known for her service with the Quartermaster Corps as a mail and truck driver during the war.

America’s Last Pioneers

Right after the Alaskan Military Highway was completed in 1944, Dow became the first women to drive a load of freight across the wilderness and back, in a Studebaker 6×6. Although the annuls of history and war-time needs were driven by women hauling freight through wilderness and danger, Dow’s account of her experience makes it clear that women were often perceived as intruders. Dow had driven trucks all her life and ran a trucking and transfer service near Anchorage, Alaska, yet she wrote, “This was a man’s job on a man’s road, built by men, in its entirety.”

Yet women had been taking over “men’s jobs” driving trucks long before Dow took the wheel. During both World Wars I and II, women took over the jobs left open by men serving in the armed forces, including truck driving. At the start of WWII, farms were producing abundantly to provide for the war effort. Faced with a shortage of laborers, thousands of women were recruited and hastily trained to manage the harvest, including delivering shipments of fruit, grain, and hay all across the country. Women accounted for nearly fifty percent of truck drivers during 1939-1945.

Also Read:How Fast Can I Drive? Hang up for Safety…

Actress Della Resse worked as a truck driver, and several other odd jobs, to support her family long before she took off on the road to stardom. Bea Arthur served as a truck driver in the Marines from 1943-1945 before she was a “Golden Girl!”

Members-Only Club

Marlene Marling is famous for trucking on America’s highways for thirty-five accident-free years, starting in 1959. The appeal of travel and the desire to do something different attracted her to what could still be a very sexist environment. Marling liked to say she could do the job as well, if not better, than any man. Marling describes the shock and disbelief of other drivers and travelers when she would stop to refuel. Truck stops were changing as oil and trucking companies joined forces to improve them, from military-style barracks to actual places to rest. Marling was one of the original members of the Pure Oil Road King Drivers Club, supported by the Pure Oil Petroleum Company and Road King magazine.

Maggie Peterson, who was the first woman named “Driver of the Month” (twice) by the California Trucking Association, has gone on to become a spokesperson for women in the trucking industry. She advocates not only for women drivers, but for the advancement of the trucking profession as a whole.

Today’s Trucking Women

There are many associations today which support and encourage women in the field of trucking. Modern-day women truck drivers take to the road for many of the same reasons as their forebearers, as well as for new reasons and opportunities. Shannon “Sputter” Smith always wanted to be a truck driver growing up. She was featured in a 2012 O Magazine article,which reads, “When you’re in a long-haul truck you are in a different zone, a shared space high above the rhythms of vacation, commuting, visiting.”

Also Read:April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Some young couples embrace the opportunity as a way to live up their youth and young love, working for the same company and traveling together. “We feel like we’re out here doing our own thing, we make our own schedules, and constantly travel to different states,” said Halter of her job with Pride Transportation, team-driving with her husband. Overdrive Magazine also runs of “Most Beautiful” contest for woman in trucking.

Television has helped showcase women in trucking with “Shipping Wars,” featuring independent movers bidding on unusual or oversized loads, and “Ice Road Truckers” hauling cargo over some of most dangerous roads in the world. Jessica of “Shipping Wars,” is known for applying determination and unorthodox ideas to compete with her more experienced costars.

Also Read:Comfortably Traveling to Your Destination

Ice Road Trucker Maya said, “When you get into trucking as a woman, it’s very difficult.” Lisa and Maya see themselves as role models. “I think women, and girls, are going to say, ‘You know what, I can do this’,” said Maya. “The first year is going to be the toughest of your life…it does get easier, every day.”

Also Read:Damage as a Result of an Accident

When Rusty Dow made her trek in 1944, she overheard one man say to another, “If it becomes so tame that women can drive it then it’s time to roll our sleeping bags and move on to the next job.” While it may not be a bottleneck of highwaywomen and female drivers, the roads traveled by women truckers has been far from tame. With ancestors like Annie and Mary and role models like Maya and Lisa, it’s safe to predict that the story of women in trucking is just going to get more interesting.

Damage as a Result of an Accident

When you get right down to it there are two major causes of major traffic accidents, accidents that are caused by drivers themselves and accidents that’re the result of environmental factors outside the driver’s control. For the most part  though, the majority of major traffic accidents are the result of situations drivers either produced or could have avoided. Outside environmental factors such as inclement weather conditions or subpar road maintenance cause some accidents, but statistically speaking they were far less likely to do so and even then, could have been prevented by a quick thinking driver. Even during winter months, when roads can be icy and freezing fog can make road conditions hazardous and it’s tempting to blame the weather for accidents,  statistics tell us that too many drivers too often neglect to reduce speed to accommodate hazardous conditions.

Also Read:Holiday travel safety tips! Be advised the roads will be busy….

New drivers for instance, often lack the confidence and driving skills to cope with poor weather conditions and in spring, when road surfaces are often cracked from the effects of severe temperature changes, many new drivers lose control of their vehicles when faced with poor road conditions. The speed of both vehicles at the time of the major accident will largely determine how great the effect and damage on both or one vehicle will be. Even at only 35 mph considerable damage can occur when a stationery object is hit by a car, such as driving into bollards or garden walls owing to careless and inattentive driving.

Also Read:Things to Remember if Your Car Breaks Down

Financial Impact of a Major Car Accident

Most people have arranged the purchase of their car through a dealership and a car finance company. If a major accident’s effect on cars ends in a total write-off, insurer’s loss adjusters will investigate and determine how much their insurance company is prepared to pay out. This will be paid directly to the party having paid out the money, namely your finance company, unless you paid for your car yourself. If the insurance money doesn’t cover the debt that is still outstanding against your car, you will have to pay off the remaining debt to the finance company yourself.

Also Read:Buyer Beware: Yelp’s Sorting of Reviews Misleads Readers

The loss adjuster will look at vehicle sales in your area to determine how much cars in a comparable condition are worth. If the insurers pay out more than is still owed to your finance company, they will send you a cheque for the difference, enabling you to put a deposit on a new car. The early pay-off of your loan will not adversely affect your credit rating by the way – only the non-payment of your debt to the finance company will do that.

Repairing or Writing  Off a Major Car Accident

The extent and the nature of the damage sustained during a major auto accident will be the primary deciding factor in the determining how much value has been lost from your vehicle. Damage to your car or trucks frame or structural damage effect the value of a car for more than any other kind of loss. The greater the damage, the larger the final repair bill will be and this will be reflected in the ratio determining the vehicle’s value, as the vehicle’s value prior to the major accident will be taken into account. If a major accident effect on your car left you out of pocket, you may be able to file a diminished value claim against your insurance company, provided the driver of the other vehicle was not insured and you had previously arranged for a policy that included “uninsured motorist” coverage. Depending on the circumstances you may be able to file a claim against a third party insurer.