8 Tips to Reduce Distracted Driving

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Every day, at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes according to the National Safety Council. Cell phones, dashboard touchscreens, and other in-vehicle technologies pose a threat to our safety. The consequences of those and other distractions are not worth the convenience they offer. Share these tips on how to reduce distracted driving activity with your loved ones.

  1. Stow your phone. Turning off the phone or putting it in “do not disturb” mode can help remove the temptation to browse online at a red light or respond right away to a text message.
  2. Vow not to multi-task. Anything that occupies your mind or vision can be a distraction behind the wheel. Avoid reading, eating, grooming or calling someone while behind the wheel, so you can focus on the road.
  3. Plan your route before you go. Programming your navigation system while you drive can take your eyes off the road. It’s better to ask a passenger to do it or to enter your destination before you leave home.
  4. Speak up. If you see someone texting or otherwise driving while distracted, ask them to stop that behavior. Encourage your children to do the same when they are passengers in a friend’s car. It could save a life.
  5. Avoiding reaching. Resist the urge to reach for items if they fall while driving.
  6. Keep kids and pets safe. Make sure kids are in proper car seats and that pets stay secured in the back of your vehicle. Do not allow pets to roam about the car.
  7. Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting family members and friends when you know they are driving to avoid distracting them.
  8. Set a good example. Parents can model good behavior for their children by demonstrating attentive driving.

Important Information for Parents of Teenage Drivers

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The day has come…your teenager gets his or her license…how exciting! Then the panic sets in and the questions swirl through your mind.

Do I have to add my child as an operator on my auto insurance policy?

Yes, you do have to add the newly licensed driver. You are required to list all licensed operators in your household as operators. If your child only operates your vehicles occasionally, then the highest rated vehicle on your policy will be charged an occasional operator rate. If she/he is the principal operator of one of your vehicles, then that vehicle only will be rated with the inexperienced principal operator rate. If your child ends up getting his/her own vehicle, then most Massachusetts insurance companies will allow you to list the child as a deferred operator so you no longer have to pay an inexperienced rate on your policy. Beware, however, that there are now companies writing in Mass. that no longer allow deferrals. So you may be paying for the inexperienced operator on your policy and on their policy.

How much is this going to cost me?

The inexperienced operator rate can be substantial. You can’t avoid this BUT there are cost savings measures you may be able to take advantage of to keep those costs down:

  • Consider increasing your collision deductible. Collision is the one coverage that you have some control over the cost based upon the deductible you select. Increasing the deductible from the standard $500 to $1,000 will usually result in a worthwhile savings.
  • Be sure you are taking advantage of the Good Student Credit offered by many companies if your child is eligible, i.e. has a B or better average during his/her last term. All you need to do to get this credit is provide your insurer with a copy of the latest report card or transcript. 
  • Let your account manager know if your child attends school over 100 miles away as most companies offer a credit for this situation, provided the child does not have one of your vehicles at school. 
  • As stated above, if you child obtains his/her own vehicle be sure you are insured with a company that will allow you to defer the child on your policy. Deferrals are applicable to Massachusetts auto insurance only.

Do I have enough protection?

Statistically, having an inexperienced operator drive your car increases the likelihood that car will be involved in an accident. You hope your teenager will defy those odds and never have an accident but if they do you, as the owner of the vehicle, will be financially responsible for the damage he/she causes. It is definitely the time to review your liability limits to see if they are sufficient to protect your family’s assets against a severe loss. If not, increase those limits to a level you feel most comfortable with. Then, if you want even more protection, consider a Personal Umbrella policy which will give you excess liability coverage of at least $1,000,000 (higher limits are also available) for a very reasonable premium.

Contact your account manager as soon as your teenager gets that license and she will be happy to go over all of your concerns and help ease that initial panic.