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Car Insurance

A Blog About Driving and Car Insurance in the USA

Friday, October 20, 2017

Seven Bad Driving Habits That May Also Be Illegal

Seven Bad Driving Habits That May Also Be Illegal
Seven Bad Driving Habits
This Seven Bad Driving Habits That May Also Be Illegal article (edited) was produced by the good folks at Geico:

Let’s face it: Driver’s Ed was a while ago. Over the years, our perfect double-handed grip on the steering wheel may have slipped a little; perhaps other bad habits have crept in as well.

And whether we realize it or not, some of those habits may be illegal.

It’s true that traffic laws can be confusing. They can vary by state, and even by municipality. A violation in one place -- say, turning right on red in New York City -- can be perfectly legal just over the city border.

The evolution of our traffic laws can also be a source of confusion. As the use of mobile phones has spread, for example, safety experts have recognized their role in distracting drivers, and states are adopting laws to combat the problem. Those laws are still developing. While most states have outlawed texting while driving, some have made it illegal to use a phone at all while driving, although others have barred it only for younger drivers.

Still, when it comes to driving, the patchwork quilt of traffic laws should take a back seat to safety. Here are seven habits to change today.

1. Using Your Mobile Phone While Driving

It may be difficult to ignore the ping of an incoming text message, but it’s essential to keep your eyes on the road. With distracted driving becoming an increasingly important issue, expect more states to crack down on any use of a mobile phone. In fact, Washington State just did so in an innovative way with its new DUIE (Driving Under the Influence of Electronics) regulation. But regardless of where you are, put that phone in airplane mode before you hit the gas.

2. Driving With Headphones On

Listening to music on your car radio can be distracting enough. But with headphones at your ears, you may be shutting out important noises -- like car horns, railroad-crossing alarms or emergency vehicle sirens -- as well as breaking the law in some states.

3. Tailgating

Following a car too closely can happen when a driver isn’t paying close enough attention to the surrounding traffic. It can also result in a ticket. The space you should leave depends on your speed and the local conditions (e.g., a traffic jam or rain storm); try to keep what’s generally referred to as a “reasonable and prudent” distance from other cars.

4. Changing Lanes Without Signaling

In heavy traffic, using your blinker to signal a lane change is a necessity; without it, other drivers won’t know your intention. When traffic is light, though, it’s easier to be lazy about turning it on. You may or may not be pulled over for this infraction, but good habits begin with good communication, regardless of conditions or laws.

5. Speeding

You’re running late and traffic is light.  You could shave a couple of minutes off your travel time if you speed up, right? Not so fast. High speeds make a crash more likely, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, since it takes longer to stop or slow down. Statistics prove the point: In 2015, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 27 percent of all crash fatalities -- more than 9,000 deaths -- were related to speed. That appointment you’re late for can wait. Abide by the speed limit.

6. Not Having Your Headlights On

Obviously you need headlights for nighttime driving, but you may not always think to pop them on at dusk or in bad weather. Just remember to over-communicate while driving, and in this case, headlights advertise your presence as well as help you navigate. Laws vary on when to use headlights, but if there’s any question, don’t hesitate: It’s as easy as flipping a switch.

7. Not Wearing a Seat Belt

While clicking a seat belt is pretty standard practice for most drivers (more than 90% of us use one, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA]) at least 27 million Americans still don’t buckle up. Yet seat belts saved almost 14,000 lives in 2015 alone. And of course, “click it or ticket” is a familiar phrase for a reason. So don’t neglect the seat belt.  It’s important, even if you’re just driving around the corner.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Distracted Driving

distracted driving
Distracted Driving
I made some silly driving-related mistakes in my youth, from driving with a suspended license (suspended for ignoring too many speeding tickets) to driving too fast in a snowstorm (I once slid into an embankment at 15 MPH and, despite the moderate speed, still managed to flip the car over, Dukes-of-Hazard style.) Yes, with age comes maturity, experience and wisdom, and that's why insurance premiums get cheaper as we get older.

I've also learned -- the hard way -- how important it is to stay completely focused on the road at all times, with no exceptions.

About 18 years ago, when I was living in Queens, NY, I got into a minor fender bender which was totally my fault. I was distracted. I was trying to change the radio station on my car stereo, and ended up rear ending a minivan. I had taken my eyes off the road for the briefest of moments, yet it was long enough to precipitate an accident. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The accident would have dinged my driving record, and possibly caused my insurance premium to rise. However, no police report was filed. After pulling over, the driver of the minivan handed me $10 and took off. In my estimation, the driver either:

  1. Had no driver license, or
  2. Had no insurance, or
  3. Was an undocumented resident of the United States (a.k.a. an illegal alien).

My mistake didn't cost me much, but every day, people all over the world pay a much higher price for their distracted driving.


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Friday, May 15, 2009

The Police Should Always Lead by Example

policeEarlier today, I was driving home from the supermarket and happened to pull up next to a police car at a traffic light. The cop driving the car was yapping on a cell phone. His windows were rolled up so I couldn't hear what he was talking about, but I assumed it wasn't a serious call, because he was doing a lot of laughing and smiling. When the light turned green, I noticed that this cop was still talking on his phone, while driving. I gave him a you-should-know-better look, then made a turn, which took me away from the police car and down a road near my home.

A few seconds later, I looked into my rear-view mirror to find that the same police car was now tailgating me. The officer hadn't done anything to signal me to stop. He was just following me very closely. I immediately recognized the game he was playing, so instead of driving to my place, I circled the block a number of times, being very careful not to make any driving-related mistakes. The officer followed, patiently and intimidatingly. Tired of this game, I parked in a parking lot far from my front door, and waited for him to make his move. Of course, he couldn't do anything, since I did nothing wrong, so he took off.

I do not regret giving that police officer that look.

For some years now, I've been hoping that cops get a lot more serious about cracking down on people chatting on the cell phones while driving, but based on my own anecdotal experience, it doesn't look like I'm gonna' get my wish. Yep: it's time to write a letter to the Mayor.

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