April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month

Getting behind the wheel for the first time is one of the most thrilling benefits of growing up. However, there is quite a bit more to obtaining a license than just getting behind the wheel. The reason for driver’s education, behind the wheel training, and the final driver’s exam, is to prepare you for a safe future on the road. Traffic laws are set in place to help avoid mishaps. Some situations cannot be prevented due to weather conditions or an unavoidable collision, but knowing the laws and becoming a safe driver will aid in your safety on the road. When you get your license and are behind the wheel remember that driving is a privilege not a right.

Vehicles have become a very important part of our lives. With so many drivers on the road today, it is very important to stay alert and pay attention to what you have learned in your training or through your experience. Avoid reckless driving by consistently maintaining a reasonable speed, and always be courteous to your fellow drivers. Younger drivers are at a greater risk for accidents due to distractions because they have not yet experienced the many hazardous situations that occur on the roads without warning. Distracted Driving is not limited to younger drivers. There are many drivers who travel to work daily and have routines which are considerably unsafe (reading road maps, eating or drinking, attending to children, use of cell phones, putting on makeup, etc.). This activity increases the potential for accidents. If you take your eyes off the road even for a split second, you could put yourself or others in danger.

Driving in severe weather or during rush hour traffic is already the worst environment for potential accidents. You add to the danger when your mind wanders, you take your eyes off the road reaching for something, or you distract other drivers with reckless driving. For this reason, in Minnesota it is illegal to text or send emails while you are driving, stuck in traffic, or at a stop light. Do your part to make the road a safe and friendly place.

Tips for Drivers:

  • Avoid use of cell phones.
  • Do not search for CDs or radio stations while the vehicle is moving,
  • Map out your route prior to putting your vehicle in drive, and pull over to study a map.
  • If you have food or drink make sure the drink is covered and the food is not something messy.
  • Children need attention, but it is very unsafe to tend to them while driving.
  • Keep your eyes on the road at all times

  Driving Etiquette:

  • Always be prepared to stop at crosswalks or intersections
  • Pass only in passing lane, avoid passing too closely or without signal
  • Yield to drivers who have the right of way
  • Make room for other drivers merging
  • Adhere to speed limits
  • Avoid cell phone use
  • Never tailgate, always allow a reasonable stopping distance

Keep in mind that each year in Minnesota distracted driving is accountable for at least one in four crashes which have resulted in at least 50 deaths and more than 300 serious injuries. Laws have been implemented to help reduce these statistics, but according to a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 90 percent of drivers recognized the danger from cell phone distractions and found it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send e-mail while driving. Nevertheless, 35% of these same people admitted to having read or sent a text message or e-mail while driving in the previous month. Similarly, two-thirds of the survey respondents admitted to talking on a cell phone, even though 88 percent found it a threat to safety.

Defensive Driving courses are taught to help drivers maintain valuable skills. Some of these types of classes in Minnesota are free, and could also lower your insurance rates. These classes are designed to help you brush up on your driving skills and become familiar with current laws.

Help Curtail Aggression Behind the Wheel

Join Insurance Advisors, Inc and Safeco Insurance in taking a pledge to be a more courteous driver in Drive It Forward Fridays (#DIFF)

SafeCo drive it forward Fridays logoSummer travel season has started, and you have a chance to help make driving in and around Minnesota more pleasant and safer for everyone.

We at Insurance Advisors, Inc are joining Safeco Insurance in asking drivers to participate in Drive It Forward Fridays (DIFF). To take part, drivers can visit www.safeco.com/diff or use the hashtag #DIFF on Twitter to pledge to be a more courteous driver and to share their positive driving actions.

“Helping to promote better driving makes the roads safer for everyone in our community,” said Patty Czock, Vice President, Insurance Advisors, Inc.

A new Safeco Insurance survey found that more than four out of five drivers have experienced others’ aggressive driving behavior, and it impacts them negatively.

Only 36 percent of those surveyed admitted to driving aggressively. Yet, 85 percent describe other drivers as aggressive, and 82 percent said it’s others’ behavior on the road that makes driving a negative experience.

Not all the news is bad. Of those surveyed, 72 percent said that they’d be willing to make at least one change to their own behavior to make driving more pleasant for everyone. So as the summer travel season kicked off, Safeco Insurance launched the Drive It Forward Fridays campaign to encourage drivers to take positive steps to counter negative driving behavior that can be dangerous.

Insurance Advisors, Inc. is proud to support Drive it Forward Fridays and we’ve made our pledge!

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