Avoid Distractions Behind the Wheel

Many people have a limited definition of “distracted driving”: They think it only means texting behind the wheel.

There’s good reason for that, because texting requires visual, manual and cognitive attention – the same attention required for safe driving. But although texting is perhaps the most dangerous distraction, there are many others that can impact how you drive, whether you realize it or not. And they can be just as deadly.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2014 more than 400,000 people were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers – with more than 3,000 killed.

Here are just a few of the things that can distract drivers on the road:

  • Talking on the phone, even with a hands-free device.
  • Eating or drinking.
  • Talking to passengers.
  • Grooming (yes, there really are people who apply makeup or shave on their way to work).
  • Reading, including maps.
  • Adjusting the stereo.

Younger drivers are the most distracted of all – according to the government’s distraction.gov website, people in their 20s make up 38% of drivers who were using cell phones before a fatal crash, and 10% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted, too.

With distractions more prevalent than ever – more than 150 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. every month, for example – how can you, and those you love, be safer behind the wheel? Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t use the phone: This includes texting as well as talking, unless it’s an emergency. Even hands-free conversations can take your attention off the road.
  • Eat before you leave, or after you get there: Scarfing down that burger with one hand on the wheel means your focus is divided – and you probably don’t have as much control over your car as you should. Bonus benefit: Keeping your meals and your driving separate means you’re much less likely to get ketchup on your pants.
  • Know where you’re going: Nobody likes to be lost. But messing around with your car’s GPS (or the maps app on your smartphone) while you’re moving can lead to something you’ll hate even more – an accident.
  • Talk to your family about safe driving: Having a conversation with your spouse as they’re driving home? That’s a perfect opportunity to say, “I’ll let you focus on the road; we can talk when you get here.” And if you have young drivers in the household, be sure to have a conversation about their phones and other potential issues, such as their passengers – a key distraction for teens.
  • Watch for other distracted drivers: Just because you aren’t distracted doesn’t mean that other drivers are focused on safe driving. Stay in control and be vigilant – you’ll be ready to react when someone else makes the wrong move.

Distracted driving isn’t just “one of those things” that happens, like a tire blowout or mechanical failure that isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s 100% preventable – and by committing to avoiding distractions while you drive, you’ll help make the road safer for everyone.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

3 Tips for Protecting Your Home While on Summer Vacation

Summer is a common time for many Fort Plain, NY families to go on vacation—which unfortunately means it is a prime opportunity for thieves to break-in to homes in their absence.

While locking doors and windows, setting the alarm, and otherwise making it difficult for someone to get in are all common considerations, there are a few other ideas to keep in mind.  Here are three tips for protecting your home while on summer vacation from our Shults Insurance Agency staff.

Tip #1: Keep Lights on Timers

If you are going to be away more than a night or two, it is wise to keep lights in the interior of your home on timers.  Most thieves enjoy crimes of opportunity, and search for residences that clearly have no one inside.   If a light comes on, most will assume that someone is there and look elsewhere for a place to commit burglary.

Tip #2: Instruct the Post Office to Hold Your Mail

Mail theft may happen in our area, and it becomes even easier to commit when a homeowner is out of town.  One way to make it appear as though someone is home, and to reduce the chance of your private letters being stolen, is by asking the post office to hold your mail until you return.

Tip #3: Have Someone Stop By

Another great way to protect your home while you are on vacation?  Have a friend or relative stop by periodically to check on things.  Have them take note of anything unusual, or things that may seem out of place between visits.

Of course, having adequate homeowner’s insurance is also quite important.  Before you pack that suitcase, make an appointment for your no-obligation policy review.  Our Shults Insurance Agency team would be happy to help ensure your home is properly covered.  Contact us today for details.