Safe Driving Tips from Leading Carriers That Can Save Lives
Car accidents, many caused by distracted drivers, are the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to Hi Marley customer Amica, more than 70 percent of drivers admit to being distracted on a daily basis. Distracted driving typically happens when a driver stops looking at the road (visual distraction), takes their hands off the wheel (manual distraction), or when thinking about something else other than driving (cognitive distraction).
“Multiple studies show that distracted driving significantly increases the risk of a crash,” said Terry McClaskey, National Personal Lines Leader at Westfield Insurance. “The insurance industry needs to continue raising this as an issue.”
Hi Marley Carrier Customers Encourage Safe Driving
Hi Marley carrier customers are helping bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving and change driving behaviors through usage-based programs, discounted rates and other incentives for safe driving and various educational programs, community outreach and partnerships.
As part of its commitment to reduce distracted driving, Auto-Owners began the W82txt Campaign to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving through local advertising, education and direct community engagement by its agents. Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan also engaged in local outreach, joining media partners across the state for the Band2Gether Against Distracted Driving Campaign, offering thumb bands for people to wear while driving to serve as a reminder to keep fingers off the phone and attention on the road.
Encova Insurance partnered with the West Virginia Department of Transportation’s Parkways Authority to create “Safe Phone Zones” located at rest areas, travel plazas and welcome and cultural centers along the West Virginia turnpike. The safe zones are easy to get on and off the highway and encourage drivers to pull into a location off the road before using cell phones. RLI Corporation offers a library of training resources to reduce distracted driving in trucking, including templates, presentations on what distracted driving is and how to mitigate distractions, kits for presenters to deliver their content with impact and more.
Six Tips for Staying Safe on The Road
In recognition of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’ve collected tips from Hi Marley customers for reducing distractions and staying safe on the road.
#1 Put Your Phone Away
“You should never text message while driving,” said IMT Insurance. “One study indicates that when drivers engage in texting, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting. Another study found that texting while driving is more dangerous than drunken driving.”
If you need to be available while driving, designate a texter, ask someone to take your phone and monitor messages.
However, the best way to reduce the temptation to check your phone while driving is to put your phone in a place where you can’t reach it, according to AmFam. Grange Insurance agrees, “It’s the absolute best thing you can do while behind the wheel so that you can safely control your vehicle and respond to events on the road.”
#2 Turn off Ringers and Notifications
If you need your phone close by, there are a variety of apps that help prevent texting while driving. According to Grange, apps like Textecution, tXtBlocker, DriveSafe.ly and DriveMode can prevent texting while driving. West Bend Insurance also mentioned Lifesaver and OneTap apps, as well as setting an automatic response on your phone to alert anyone contacting you that you’re driving and can’t talk.
MAPFRE recommends utilizing your phone’s driving safety features, like Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving or the Auto setting for Android. Auto-Owners noted adjusting your phone’s settings, “Try putting your phone into airplane mode while driving to your destination to eliminate all distractions.”
#3 Don’t Multitask
Union Mutual reported that more than 80 percent of drivers admit to blatantly dangerous behavior: changing clothes, steering with a foot, painting nails and shaving.
“For example, you might continue your morning routine in the car by eating breakfast, drinking coffee or putting on makeup,” wrote Amica. “Many things you do in your vehicle likely can be considered manual distractions, like adjusting the radio, reading directions or answering a phone call. The safest way to operate your vehicle is with both hands on the wheel.”
Avoid eating, drinking or any other activity that requires your hands while driving. If you need to do any other activity besides driving, make sure you are stopped, “pull off the road and park in a safe spot, such as a parking lot, before making a call or sending a text. Stay there until your discussion is finished. Then get back on the road,” advises West Bend.
#4 Give Yourself Enough Time to Get Ready Before You Go
“Before you put the car in drive, make sure you are prepped for the trip,” said Plymouth Rock. “A little preparation can go a long way toward saving a life.”
Rundown a simple checklist before taking off. MAPFRE advised, “adjust your music, pair your phone, set up your GPS and note directions, check your texts/social media one last time, adjust your mirror and seat position.” Virginia Farm Bureau echoes the GPS step and says it’s crucial to set up navigation in your car or smartphone before you put your car into drive, not while you’re moving.
If you just bought a new car, learn about its new features before you start driving. “The key is using this technology the right way—and being aware of your risk for distraction,” Amica noted. “Staying safe on the road takes commitment. You can have safety features in your vehicle, but if you don’t use them properly or if your mind wanders, you’re still at risk.”
#5 Stay Alert
As a driver, you cannot control how others operate their vehicles on the road. It’s crucial to stay alert, drive defensively and anticipate their mistakes.
To be safe, Electric Insurance says, “pay attention to the signs. Don’t race the yellow light, slow down before each intersection and yield for other motorists. Always pay attention to turning signals of other cars.”
Virginia Farm Bureau recommends keeping your music or podcasts at a volume that allows you to hear all surrounding traffic, emergency vehicles, etc. “Your playlists are great background but save top volume for when you’re parked or at home.”
To ensure you’re alert, avoid driving while tired and late at night. “To increase alertness, avoid driving alone on little sleep and, if you feel drowsy, take a nap at a rest stop or use caffeine for a short-term boost,” commented MAPFRE.
#6 Lead by Example
Plymouth Rock Insurance acknowledged that removing distractions while driving can be difficult in today’s digitally-connected world. However, “if you want your friends and loved ones to stop using their mobile phones and indulging other dangerous habits behind the wheel, the change starts with you.”
“A parent who’s a defensive driver is more likely to raise a defensive driver. We want to see more of both,” wrote Virginia Farm Bureau. “Parents must always be attentive and cautious while driving. You choose what kind of an example you set whenever you’re in the car with others.”
“Your daily habits are watched by your kids, spouse and friends,” said AmFam. “By not reaching for your phone, you’re sending a powerful reminder to stay present behind the wheel.”