Monday, April 30, 2012

Driving: Avoiding Distractions and Uninsured Motorist Coverage (Spring 2012)

Distracted drivers can be found in all ages and experience levels. Even if you are not one today, you could become one at any moment — it happens in the time it takes you to answer your cell phone or check the kids in the back seat.

If you or someone else you know thinks you can drive just fine while talking on your phone, think about this: more than 450,000 people were injured in crashes that reportedly involved distracted driving in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 5,000 of those people died. 

Distractions on the road come in many forms, according to, a U.S. Department of Transportation website. There are three main kinds of distractions:
1. Visual
(Taking your eyes off the road)
2. Manual
(Taking your hands off the wheel)
3. Cognitive
(Taking your mind off your driving)

To help you avoid all three kinds of distractions the next time you are behind the wheel of your car here are a few tips:
  • Put your phone in silent mode and store it away from the front seat or in a purse or bag. This helps reduce temptation.
  • Have a passenger answer your phone or return text messages for you.
  • If a call or a text can’t wait, pull over in a safe spot before using your phone.
  • This one seems obvious, but finish shaving or applying makeup before you get in the car!
  • If you are emotional, wait until you have calmed down before hitting the road. 
  • Avoid road rage. You will be happier and safer.
  • Whenever you are on the road, it is not a time to multi-task. Focus on driving safely.

Content provided by Safeco Insurance

Though the majority of states in our nation have mandatory insurance laws, the Insurance Research Council estimates about one of every seven motorists is uninsured (about 14.3 percent).  In some states, the percentage of uninsured motorists is as high as 28 percent.  It is estimated that more than 20 percent of fatal crashes in the United States involve uninsured motorists (source: Property/Casualty Insurers Association of America).

In addition to a significant number of uninsured motorists, many drivers who are insured carry only the minimum limits.  These limits are oftentimes inadequate to cover all damages in an accident for which these individuals (underinsured motorists) are at fault.  

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage allows you to file a claim with your insurer if you are involved in an accident caused by someone who does not have adequate insurance to cover the damages.  This coverage is not required in most states; however, it is something you should be familiar with and consider when purchasing auto insurance.  
Because UM/UIM coverage does not cover damage to your vehicle, insurers in most states offer uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage insurance (UMPD).  This will cover damage to your vehicle.  The deductible for this coverage is often substantially less than the deductible for collision coverage in your auto insurance policy.  

Specific coverage options for these policies vary by state, so it is a good idea to talk with your insurance agent to learn what options are available to you.