Distracted driving is a non-driving activity that puts the focus of driving on the backburner. By the time the focus returns to driving it’s too late. With so much going on it has become easier to get distracted and that’s why this kind of accident is on the rise.
There are three types of distractions: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distracted driving is when the eyes are not on the road. Manual distracted driving is removing hands from the wheel. Cognitive distracted driving is when the mind is not focused on driving but on something else completely.
The main culprit of distractive driving is the cell phone. The majority of distractive driving done in a survey in 2009 comes from this revolutionary device. Two ways that the cell phone has caused accidents are texting while driving and talking on the phone. Both of these distractions require multitasking on the road and on the cell phone. Even headsets attached to the phone causes a distraction; it forces the mind to concentrate on both driving and listening to the person on the phone.
A close runner-up cause of distractive driving is stress. Stress from work, from children, the family, spouse, or friends stir up anger and driving behind the wheel angry distracts the mind. The focus on the wheel and the road is lost and that anger is only thing on the brain. Because the mind is focused on something else the driving patterns will become more aggressive.
Speaking of multitasking, this is another common way to get in an accident. It doesn’t have to be a cell phone. Reading, grooming, watching a video, listening to music, eating and drinking while driving can distract a person long enough to get into an accident.
In conclusion, being distracted on the road in any way is not worth it.
Sixth: Go back through your list of things you did at first last week and make sure all is well.
• Did you get an oil change? If not, you should probably do it now.
• How is your wiper fluid holding up?
• How is your tire pressure? A 5 minute check can save you from the inconvenience of a slow leak, or weak bead, while on the road.
Seventh: Go over your maps and make sure the route is clearly mapped out for you in advance. If you have a GPS make sure your map subscription is up to date. This is especially important if you will be travelling through cities undergoing major highway or roadway construction projects.
Eighth: Make sure you have your registration and proof of insurance in your vehicle and everything is current and legal. Two hundred miles from home is a terrible place to realize you never put your new insurance card in your wallet.
Ninth: If you signed up for a motorists assistance/auto club, make sure you have received your card. Also make sure your travelling companion has a copy of the information if needed, or keep a copy in the glove box.
Tip: You might be amazed at some of the discounts these cards can get you. On my last trip I saved 15% on my hotel rooms and received “comp’d” four star meals and beverages.
Tenth: Get rid of any junk in the car. It’s going to be a lot easier to load the car up next week if you are not deciding then what should stay and what should go.
Eleventh: Consider investing in a roadside emergency safety kit and any safety devices such as fire extinguishers, emergency seat belt cutters, window pane breakers, etc.
Twelfth: Make a list of any special items you will be carrying – especially anything considered potentially hazardous. Propane tanks on RV’s are a great example. Most tunnels prohibit you from going though with one unless it has been inspected by the authority on site.
The next three tips are broken out into timeframes to make it easier for you to plan ahead.
Many people have concerns about taking their cars on long trips, especially if their cars are getting on in years or mileage. Truth is, long trips are actually easier on your car than day-to-day driving — but a breakdown far from home can really ruin your fun. A few simple checks will stave off many common problems. As with most things, it’s best to start early.
2 Weeks Out
If you have planned a trip with at least a couple weeks of lead time, take advantage of the extra time and start your preliminary prep here.
First: Have your mechanic do a “once-over” or safety and operational inspection. Things to include would be checking:
• air filter
• wiper blades
• engine coolant
• brakes (pads, rotors, etc.)
• brake fluid
• tire tread for wear and tear
• air pressure in the tires
• all fluid levels
• need of an oil change
• anything else your mechanic can think of
Second: If your mechanic finds a problem, or if you know of a pre-existing issue, get it fixed before you leave. Yes, this is common sense but gets missed a lot!
Third: Have the spare tire inspected. if possible do this in the same trip as the first task when you are already at the shop. Just seeing that the spare is in place is not enough. You need to make sure it will work when you need it. Also make sure you have all you need to actually change the tire, such as the jack, lug wrench/tire iron and the key for any locking nuts.
Fourth: Subscribe to an auto travel service like AAA, if you do not have a similar program through your carrier, that includes emergency roadside assistance and towing. Take advantage of your new AAA account right away by requesting pre-routed and marked maps for the trip.
Fifth: Consider getting a “Smart Tag” or “EZ Pass” for paying tolls and fund it with enough to cover the trip.
Next we look at one week out…
There are several systems that contribute to the safe operation of a vehicle. Regular maintenance is required to keep those systems in proper working order. One of the most important components is the humble tire. Often they don’t command attention until it’s too late.
Proper maintenance can provide the information necessary in determining whether or not something is going on before bad things happen. A tire is constructed from rubber and steel belting. Sometimes the bond between the two can fail and the tire can come apart at the worst possible time. With proper maintenance, though, this problem can be virtually eliminated. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month and it would be better if it was done once a week. Tires should be rotated on a regular basis so they wear evenly and can be inspected for damage to the rubber and the belting inside. Usual manufacturer recommendations are in the neighborhood of four to six thousand miles in between each tire rotation.
This is an excellent time to take a look at your brakes. Unless you have noticed anything odd about the way they sound or feel when you use them, inspection during your tire rotation should suffice. If anything odd has captured your attention meanwhile then you should take it in to the shop for inspection immediately. If your brakes are in need of replacement, then action is necessary. Don’t put it off!
The best indicator of problems ahead is an alert driver and a regular maintenance schedule with a knowledgeable mechanic that can be trusted. It is still necessary to pay attention to changes in the vehicle’s behavior and the sounds that it makes. When things change, it is time to see what is going on, especially in regards to your tires and brakes.
Auto insurance is our specialty but not everything related to travelling is about making sure you have the right coverage. It’s also important to have the best possible quality of life while travelling and taking care of yourself so any long road-trips don’t wear you out. That said; we have put together a blog series about getting the most out of your time on the road.
This first entry was written with those who travel for a living or are preparing for a long road-trip…
Keeping Mind and Body Fit on the Road
Business trips and any long road-trips have a tendency to disrupt our regular routines – especially our exercise habits. Without the familiarity of a local gym, home treadmill, elliptical machine or jogging route, many travelers don’t work out because it’s simply more convenient not to. And this lack of physical activity can cause sleeplessness, fatigue and irritability. Worst of all, any or all of those conditions can rear their ugly heads when you are behind the wheel leading to decreased reaction time or even bouts of road rage. This should be avoided at all costs so we have a few ideas for keeping your mind and body fit when on the road:
• Whenever possible, make reservations at a hotel with a pool, exercise facility or one that offers passes to a nearby gym. A few laps in a pool can do wonders for helping promote a good night’s sleep.
• Try exercising in your hotel room. When making reservations, check to see if the room will have a DVD player so you can use an exercise DVD – or use your laptop. You can also bring lightweight, easily stored equipment from home, like resistance bands and wrist and ankle weights.
• Use the hotel’s common areas to take an indoor hike through the halls or “do” the stairs” (but take the elevator down to save your knees).
You should always check with your doctor before exercising of course – and this is not meant to be construed as medical advice. This is just some friendly info to make you aware of the risks associated with inactivity due to long stints of driving.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just issued a partial list of its safest vehicles of the 2012 production year (the full list is expected later in the year). Popular sentiment has it that small cars are not as safe, but he great news for those looking for a new, economical car is that several of the top picks are indeed small gas-sippers.
• Chevrolet Sonic. At 40 mpg on the highway, this new offering for the 2012 model year from Chevy is definitely worth of attention. Available as a hatchback or sedan, the Sonic includes great safety features like side airbags and electronic stability control, which helps prevent rollovers. And in case of a rollover, the Sonic can support up to 5.37 times its own weight – an impressive figure that is 4 times the minimum required to get a top rating.
• Honda Civic. Another top performer, the perennially popular Civic clocks in at 39 mpg highway/28 mpg city, with great features like stability control and brake assist.
• Ford Focus. Another terrific combination of economy and safety, the Focus gets 37 mpg highway/27 mpg city. It boasts some of the same features of the Sonic and Civic, including electronic stability control, side airbags, optional rear-view camera, and a breaking system called torque vectoring control which helps negotiate sharp curves.
In the luxury car segment, the Audi A6 was a top safety performer, while the Volkswagen Passat made the list in the mid-size division. The full list of top safety picks from the IIHS will be available later in the year.
This is a sad story, and one I have heard too many times. Recently a young woman wanted to switch insurance companies because the premiums from her current insurance provider had gone up after an accident for which she was at fault. At least that’s what she was told. You see, she was actually the victim but signed away her chances of proving it. Here’s what happened.
Let’s call her “Diane”… Diane was driving home from her day of college classes when she approached a yellow light and stopped. The gentleman driving behind her (let’s call him Tom), while talking on his cell phone, gunned his engine in an effort to “beat the light”, as I’m sure, he thought Diane would do.
So, this is a clear case of Tom being at fault and driving carelessly, or even recklessly, right? Well, it should have been. But Tom was a crafty one. He jumped out of his new BMW and started shouting at Diane for causing the accident. He then claimed to be a lawyer and insisted that Diane would be sued to the point where, IF she was able to continue with college, she would be paying him off for the rest of her life. He then softened up and told her that he understands accidents happen and all she had to do to avoid being sued was simply sign a statement saying she stopped too quickly and accidentally caused the incident. She signed it and that was that. Now she was “responsible” for the accident and could no longer afford her own auto insurance.
This happens more than you think so please follow this advice: Never Sign Anything (except a ticket from a police officer) at the Scene of an Accident.
You’re a busy person, always on the go, so it seems almost inevitable that one day you’ll be in an automobile accident. The time immediately following an accident can be very trying, with emotions running from panic, to anger, to sadness. Staying in control is very important, though, and you’ll find that easier to do if you know what steps to take.
1. Check for injuries. Hopefully everyone is okay but take a few moments to check yourself and your passengers over. Don’t try to move anyone who is obviously injured, including yourself. If there are injuries, call an ambulance.
2. Call the police. Let them know if there are injuries.
3. Inspect the damage. Assuming the other party isn’t injured, inspect the damage to your vehicles. Take pictures if you have a camera. Laws vary from state-to-state about whether you can move your car (it may even be required if not moving it is a danger to other drivers).
4. Exchange information. Get the other driver’s name, driver’s license number, address, phone number, and insurance card, as well as the make, model and year of their car. Don’t discuss the accident until the police arrive, and do not admit fault.
5. Call your insurance company. Let your insurance company know as soon as you can about what happened. You don’t want them to be blindsided with a call from the other party’s insurance company.
If you keep these steps in mind, you’re sure to find it easier to stay cool and collected in a potentially stressful situation.
Cheap car insurance in Virginia, North Carolina, or just about anywhere else starts with safe driving. But even if you haven’t had a speeding ticket in years, and you always merge carefully, how you actually drive your automobile is only part of the safety equation. Automobile maintenance is another big part, and tire safety…
There are lots of little known – and helpful – facts about tires. For example, did you know that the typical tread depth of a new tire is 10/32 of an inch? And that the wear bars (horizontal bars connecting the treads that appear when the tire becomes worn) show at 2/32 of an inch? That means 80% of your tread is gone, which causes a couple of issues. First, your car is much more susceptible to hydroplaning on wet roads. Second, on dry roads there is less air space between treads, which means greater heat build up on the tires. Not a good thing. Also, remember, at 2/32 of an inch, your car tires will not pass state safety inspections.
If your tires are wearing unevenly due to poor alignment or some other issue, this presents another safety concern. Uneven wear means that the tire is not contacting the road across the entire surface of the tire, and that means less grip. Finally, maintaining recommended air pressure provides benefits, too. We even wrote a blog about it.
So in review, driving safely and maintaining a safe vehicle are both great ways to move toward the cheapest car insurance. Oh, and if you’re in North Carolina or Virginia, don’t forget to contact us at the Insurance Doctor for all your auto insurance and motorcycle insurance needs.
Lots of motorcyclists in Virginia and North Carolina wait anxiously through the winter months for exactly the type of weather we have now: warm and sunny. And when the weather turns, thoughts also turn to road trips and vacations. Of course, it’s not only motorcycle riders that are thinking about hitting the road, but lots of other drivers too. Increased road traffic holds a special importance for cyclists because of increased risk. For your protection, here are is a list of essential safety apparel:
- A Good Helmet. Choose one that’s DOT approved (there should be a sticker) and fits well, neither too tight nor too loose. Most importantly, be sure to wear it. North Carolina and Virginia both have mandatory helmet laws, as do many other states.
- Riding Jacket. Leather is almost always a good choice because of its built-in durability. Some synthetic materials have been proven just as durable, and you may find that they better suit your personal style. For even greater protection, choose a jacket with strategically-placed pads. Finally, many jackets also come in vented versions to help keep you cool.
- Gloves. In the event of a mishap, you definitely want your hands protected. And even though it’s warm during the day this time of year, you may find yourself somewhere that is cooler in the evenings, and you won’t regret having some good gloves.
- Boots. Don’t boots and bikes just go together? Boots that come up over the ankles provide the best protection, while lugged soles (as opposed to smooth ones) will help you keep your grip when you’re on an incline or a wet surface.
Of course another great way to protect yourself is with motorcycle insurance from Insurance Doctor. We offer cyclists in Virginia and North Carolina motorcycle insurance at great rates. Contact us today for a free quote.