Thursday, January 31, 2013

Automobile Accidents: Defensive Driving & Reducing Travel Risks (Winter 2013)

driving, accident, automobile, emergency,

Our hope is that you never have to deal with an automobile accident.  However, in the event that you do, we want you to be informed of actions you should take to protect yourself and others at the scene.  The following is a list of recommendations you should follow if you are involved in an accident.  
  • Remain Calm.  Arguing, venting, or losing your temper will not help the situation.
  • Call 911 to report the accident.
  • Do not leave the scene of the accident.  If safe to do so, move your vehicle out of harm’s way to prevent further damage or accidents.  If your vehicle cannot be moved, turn on the hazard lights and close all of the doors.
  • Do not discuss the specifics of the accident with anyone other than the police, your employer (if you were driving while on the job), and your insurance representative.  Do not admit fault or accept blame.
  • Gather information about what happened.  Note the road and weather conditions as well as the location.  Provide as much detail as time and circumstances will allow. Do not wait to perform this step!  Memories fade quickly and your immediate recollection of events could prove to be critical in handling your claim. 
  • Photograph the accident scene (multiple angles, from a distance, and up close).
  • Gather information from anyone involved, including names, contact information, license plate numbers and insurance information.  Obtain names and phone numbers of witnesses.
  • Be courteous and consistent in your version of the accident. 
  • Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible.

texting, driving, accident, danger, emergency
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent (at 55 mph) of driving the length of an entire football field.
  • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

risk, driving, accident, defensive driving, technique

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 90 percent of all vehicle accidents occur due to driver error.  You can avoid being part of this statistic by implementing defensive driving techniques.  Defensive driving goes beyond following basic traffic laws and simply knowing how to operate a vehicle.  It involves making safe and well-informed decisions as well as actually anticipating dangerous situations before they occur.  Here are a few tips for driving defensively:

Focus on driving.  Avoid activities such as talking on the phone, texting, eating, and personal grooming.  Staying focused will help you to see potential problems in time to properly respond to or avoid them.

Stay alert.  Being an alert driver allows you to respond quickly to potential problems – such as a child running out into the street or a driver slamming on their brakes in front of you.  Your judgment and response time can be adversely affected by simple daydreaming as well as from doziness or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including over-the-counter and prescription drugs).  Take responsibility by getting adequate rest and refraining from substances that will affect your ability to respond in a timely manner.    

Maintain an appropriate speed.  Following the posted speed limit is fine while road conditions are clear; however, it is up to you to ensure your speed matches conditions.  Slow down to maintain control of your vehicle, particularly if the road surface is wet or if other risky conditions are present.

Be aware of other people on the road.  You will be less likely to be caught off guard if you pay attention to other roadway users and anticipate their actions.  Paying attention and anticipating what other drivers may do will help you to adjust accordingly.  Don’t assume other drivers will see and accommodate your vehicle – anticipate the worse-case scenario and be prepared to respond.

Maintain a safe following distance.  Keep at least three to four seconds of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you – increase this distance in bad weather.  Maintaining a safe distance helps give you adequate time to brake to a stop if necessary to avoid a collision.

Don’t be overconfident.  It isn’t just teen drivers or elderly individuals who are at fault of becoming distracted behind the wheel.  It is easy for someone who has had a lot of experience driving to become overconfident in their abilities and to allow their driving skills to become sloppy.  No matter how much driving experience you have, you could be the cause of a traffic accident by allowing yourself to become distracted behind the wheel with activities that can wait until you reach your destination.
Practicing these safe driving strategies will improve your ability to respond to the dangers around you and help you avoid putting your fate in the hands of other drivers. 

insurance, life, commercial, personal, benefits, agency

The coverages discussed herein are for illustrative purposes only. The terms and conditions of your specific policy may differ from those described. 
Please consult the provisions of your policy for the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply to your coverage.