Share The Road: Motorcycle and Automobile Safety Tips

Guy riding a motorcycle with bluejeans, leather jacket, helmet, and sunglasses.It’s that time of year when the sun is shining, the streets are dry and the temps beckon the motorcyclists to start riding again. This also means that motorcyclists and automobiles have to start sharing the roads with each other.  Here are some tips for both drivers and motorcyclists to help keep everyone safe on the roads this motorcycle season.

Ways for Motorcyclist to be seen in Traffic

  • Wear a brightly colored or white helmet
  • Wear a fluorescent, reflective safety vest or brightly colored riding jacket
  • Use strategic lane positioning
  • Flash your brakes at stops
  • Incorporate reflective materials on your motorcycle
  • Install additional driving lights
  • Install position and marker lights
  • Avoid riding at night, dawn and dusk
  • Install a louder horn
  • Avoid riding during low sun angle times
  • Avoid riding in poor weather conditions

Use reflective clothing for night time driving. Place reflective tape on your helmet and the backs of your boots to increase your visibility.

Women in driver seat of car with hand on the wheel looking over her shoulder.Make sure you are not in a blind spot or behind a large truck. Use your lane and make sure you are seen.  Always drive with your headlights on. Newer models of motorcycles have headlights that are hardwired to automatically come on when the engine is turned on.  Older models don’t have this feature so make sure you turn your headlights on!

 8 Things a Motorist Should Know About Motorcycles

  1. Over half of motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle.  Most often it is the fault of the car or truck driver, not the motorcyclist.
  2. Because of a motorcyclist’s narrow profile it can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spot (door or roof frames). Take a second look before changing lanes or turning at intersections.
  3. The smaller size of a motorcycle makes it appear farther away than it actually is.  A motorcycle’s speed can also be difficult to judge. Before turning at an intersection or into or out of a driveway, expect a motorcycle to be closer than it really is.
  4. Follow a motorcycle with the 3 to 4 second rule of distance between you and the motorcycle. Motorcyclists often slow down by down shifting or letting up on the throttle so you won’t see a brake light come on. When at an intersection a motorcyclist may slow down without any visual warning.
  5. If you see a motorcyclist in your rear-view mirror shifting in the lane behind you they have a reason for it. It is to minimize the effects from road debris, passing vehicles and the wind. It is not to show off, be reckless or to share the lane with you. They are also doing it to insure you know they are there!
  6. A motorcycle’s turn signals don’t turn off automatically after a turn or a lane change and sometimes a rider forgets to turn them off. So make sure a motorcyclist’s turn is for real.
  7. Motorcycles have great maneuverability at low speeds and good road conditions; however, under slippery conditions they have the same issues that automobiles have. In slippery road conditions you need to allow more space between you and the motorcyclist as they won’t be able to stop “on a dime.”
  8. When you see a motorcyclist keep in mind that it might be a friend, neighbor or relative under that helmet.

Things to Know When Buying Motorcycle Insurance

Insuring your motorcycle is not the same as insuring an automobile. In Minnesota you have personal injury protection of $20,000 in medical coverage on you automobile policy. However, this coverage is optional with motorcycle insurance and most companies will go to $10,000. Uninsured and under-insured motorist liability coverage is optional on a motorcycle policy as well. Bodily injury coverage for passengers is not offered on all motorcycle insurance policies. Make sure your policy includes this coverage. Tell your agent if you have added any special equipment such as saddle bags, special handle bars or anything else not factory installed. Most companies will allow some coverage for this type of equipment. Check with your agent to make sure the amount covers your additional equipment. If you are planning on pulling a trailer, make sure you have both trailer and towing coverage.

By: Christine Gaffron, Insurance Advisors, Inc.

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Preparing for Severe Weather

Minnesota’s Severe Weather Week is April 21-25

Stormy weather ahead sign with lightning bolt beside it. With beautiful spring weather come the dangers of severe weather and tornadoes.  Severe storm and tornado season in the Midwest typically occurs between April and July but the Midwest has seen tornado’s as early as March and as late as December. The Midwest experiences the most tornadoes during the month of May.

Minnesota will hold several severe weather activities during the week of April 21 – 25, 2014.

Local communities will focus on these topics each day:

  •  Monday – Alerts and Warnings
  • Tuesday – Severe Weather, Lightning and Hail
  • Wednesday – Floods
  • Thursday – Tornadoes (including practice Tornado drills)
  • Friday – Extreme Heat

The most important events will take place on Thursday, April 24, 2014, as Minnesota will conduct two state wide tornado drills.  Local communities will be testing their tornado warning systems at 1:45 pm and again at 6:55 pm. These drills are designed to have people practice “take cover” drills in the locations that they are typically at, during that time of day.

What to Do During a Tornado Event

In A House with a Basement

In A House with No Basement Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.

In A House without a Basement

Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.

In an Apartment, Dorm or Condo

If you live in an apartment that is on an upper floor, get to the lowest level of the building that you can immediately. This could be an underground parking garage or a neighbor’s first floor apartment. Then move to the most interior area possible, away from windows.

If you live in a high-rise apartment building, you may not have enough time to get to a lower level, so picking a place in the hallway in the center of your building is the best idea such as a stairwell.  If that is not available then a closet, bathroom or interior hall without windows is the safest spot in your apartment during a tornado.  Power loss during a tornado storm is common, so avoid elevators and keep a flashlight handy.

In An Office Building, Hospital or Store

Follow instructions from facility managers. Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.

In A Mobile Home

Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.

At A School

Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

In A Car or Truck

Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive away from its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can accelerate the wind while offering little protection against flying debris.

In The Open Outdoors

If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.

In A Shopping Mall, Large Store or Stadium

Listen for instructions from building security. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows. Move away from any glass.

In a church or theater

If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

Storm Warnings and What They Mean

Tornado touching down

 

 

 

 

 

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Severe thunderstorms are likely – keep an eye on the sky and listen to the radio or watch your local TV new station for more information.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning – this warning is issued when severe weather has been reported by trained weather watchers or appears on local weather radar.  Warnings of this nature mean that damage to personal property or danger to life is imminent to those in the path of the storm.
  • Tornado Watch – this weather warning indicates that tornadoes are possible.  Watch your local TV news station or listen to the radio for more information.
  • Tornado Warning – a tornado has been sighted by trained weather spotters or indicated by radar. Take shelter immediately.

As with any type of emergency have an emergency plan. Start with an emergency kit.  Include the following items:

  • Water – 1 gallon for each person per day and enough water for at least 3 days.
  • Food – have enough non-perishable food for at least 3 days.
  • A battery powered or hand crank radio and a weather radio, with extra batteries.
  • Flashlight/Lanterns with extra batteries
  • First Aid kit
  • Emergency whistle
  • Dust mask for each person to filter contaminated air, plastic sheeting and duct tape for creating a shelter at the disaster site. (i.e.: your home or cabin)
  • Wet wipes, garbage bags for personal sanitation
  • Tools needed to turn off utilities
  • Can opener to open non-perishable food
  • Local area maps
  • Chargers for cellphone (inverter or solar)

Also have a fireproof /waterproof, portable container that includes important family documents such as, but not limited to: insurance policies, identification and bank account records.  Keep your insurance agent’s contact information on a separate piece of paper as well as in your list of contacts on you cellular device.

If you suffer injuries from the result of severe weather or a tornado, seek medical treatment immediately.  Once you have determined everyone is okay, assess the damage.  If local authorities are requiring you to evacuate you should take your emergency kit and your important document container with you. If there isn’t time for retrieving these items, take your family and pets and get to safe shelter.  Your family and pets are most important and the other items can be located at a later date.

Once things calm down, you can then contact your insurance agent and begin the process of filing a claim. Take the time to read your policy to make sure you know what will be covered and what will not.

Download our free claims process tip sheet.
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By: Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Sources: Ready.gov
Consumerwatchdog.gov
DPS.MN.gov

Distracted Driving: Causes, Laws, and Prevention

Whether you want to admit it or not, you probably have driven distracted.  Many people believe that it is not an issue, but the statistics are starting to prove otherwise.  In 2012 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving related crashes.

No Texting While Driving sign with a crossed out phone in hand.Actions that create distractions:

  • Texting
  • Using a cellphone or smart phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD or MP3 player

There are three main types of distractions when driving:

  1. Manual – taking hands off the wheel
  2. Cognitive -taking your mind off the task of driving
  3. Visual – taking your eyes off the road

Cell phone use, specifically texting, uses all three types of distractions listed above at the same time. It is the reason why 41 states have placed limits or complete bans on such activity while driving a motor vehicle.

Minnesota’s Distracted Law

  1. Bus drivers are banned from all cellphone use (handheld and hands-free)
  2. Novice drivers are also banned from all cellphone use.
  3. All drivers are banned from texting

Facts about Cellphone Use:

  • In 2011, 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones
  • In controlled studies, those who text and drive spent 10% of their driving time outside their driving lane
  • Another controlled study showed that most drivers took their eyes off the road for 3 to 5 seconds while texting, (Traveling at 55 mph) The equivalent to the length of a football field.

 Among Teens Surveyed:

  • 77% of young adults are confident or somewhat confident that they can safely text and drive
  • 55% say it is easy to text and drive and 34% admit to texting while driving
  • 52% admit to talking on the phone while driving

Double Standard

  • 48% of young drivers have seen their parents on the phone while driving
  • 15% have seen their parents’ text and drive
  • 27% of adults admit they have sent or read text messages while driving
  • While you are driving approximately 1 in 5 drivers around you are reading or writing a text message!

Increased Risk Taking

Young drivers who text and drive are 2 times more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking and 5 times more likely to drink and drive themselves. Teens attitudes towards texting and driving is alarming.

Among those surveyed:

  • 97% of teens said texting while driving is dangerous but yet 43% admit to doing it
  • 75% of teens said their friends’ text and drive
  • 77% said they saw their parents’ text and drive

Texting and driving is difficult to prevent among young drivers when they see other adults and their own parents doing it.

Set the Example

Both young drivers as well as adult drivers have excuses for texting and driving.  Some feel the need to “stay in touch” or feel the pressure to “keep working” even while driving.

Show your family that you care about them by setting the example of not texting or doing other things that take your eyes off the road while driving. Young adults may not show it but they are watching your every move. They emulate what they learn from you and if what you do is good enough for you, it will be good enough for them!  Set the standards high!

Take a pledge that no one in your family will text or partake in other types of distracted driving.

Pledge that all family members will practice these steps to safe driving:

  1. You will not send or read texts while driving
  2. Before you begin driving you will inform family, friends or others when you plan to arrive at your destination.
  3. You will stop in a safe location to check voicemail or read text.
  4. You will have your passenger take your calls or read your texts.
  5. When driving alone you will turn off your phone or put it on vibrate before you begin driving.
  6. Wait to text or call someone until they are no longer driving.
  7. Stop talking to or texting someone if you learn that they are driving.
  8. Pull off the road to a safe location or wait until you’ve reached your destination before eating or applying makeup.
  9. Pull off the road to a safe location or wait until you’ve reached your destination to check emails, text, change CD’s, adjust the radio, surf the web on your cellular device, I-Phone, or I-Pods.
  10. As a passenger you will ask a distracted driver to drive safer.
  11. As a passenger you will help the driver by staying alert for dangers and not distract the driver from keep their eyes on the road.

Apps to control Phone Usage

Many parents are looking for ways to keep tabs on their young driver’s cellphone use while behind the wheel. It would be a good idea to place these apps on all family cellular devices. Especially if all of you have pledged to not use your phone while driving but are having a hard time sticking to the pledge!

You can find many Apps for your cellular phone that help you control the use of it while driving. What the apps are capable of doing vary from what type of controls you want on the phone. Some apps will read your text and emails to you as you are driving and automatically respond to the messages without you having to even pick up the phone.  One app tracks your texting, tweeting or Internet use while you drive. Other apps will completely block you from using your cellular device while the vehicle is in motion.  One app will even place your calls, texts and emails on hold while you are driving but still allow you the ability to place a “911” call in an emergency.

Your insurance agent can also be a good resource on ways to control or monitor cell phone use. They may even have a young driver’s program that will help reduce your insurance rates.

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Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Sources: Distraction.gov
EndDD.org
Drive-safely.net

 

Minnesota Auto Insurance: What to Do After a Car Accident

No one plans to have an auto accident but it does happen. If it happens to you, here are some steps to take to determine if you need to file a claim and when to involve the police.

When to file a claim

Two cars in a crashDetermine how much damage your vehicle has sustained. Was it just a fender bender? Filing a claim may increase your auto insurance premium. If the damage was minor and will cost less than your deductible to repair it, it is usually best to go ahead and pay for the repairs yourself.

Is a police report needed?

If injuries are involved, call 911 immediately. If it is determined that everyone is okay, call the non-emergency police number. You must have a police report in order to file a claim.

Your next step is to call your insurance agent.  If it is determined that you are not at fault your insurance company can act as your advocate and will take on the responsibility of dealing with the other driver’s insurance company.

Get the Details

  • If possible, move the involved vehicles off the roadway to avoid another accident &/or injuries from happening.
  • If available, use your phones camera to take pictures at the scene, including the damage to both vehicles. Include a picture of the other vehicles license plate.
  • Exchange names, phone numbers and insurance information. You can copy the information from the other person’s insurance card or take a picture of it as well.
  • If the police are involved request a copy of the police report. If you don’t receive a copy of the report at the time of the accident, you can request a copy from the courthouse.  Accident reports are public record and are available to anyone for a small fee.
  • The other insurance company will call you to verify your information and ask you questions regarding the accident. Write down the date, time and the name of the person calling you from the other insurance company. Let your insurance company know that the conversation took place.
  • Complete all paperwork sent to you regarding the accident and return it promptly.  The sooner the claim is filed the quicker you can get any necessary repairs made to your vehicle and get you back on the road again!

Download our free claims process tip sheet!
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Insurance Advisors, Inc.
Sources: Autoinsurance.org
Money.msn.com/insurance