Tip of the Week

Have you noticed that traffic seems to be worse lately? There’s a good reason for that - there are more vehicles on the road than at any time in recent history. Unemployment is low and gas is affordable, which means more people are driving more miles. And more drivers means an increased risk of getting into a collision, which impacts the number of auto insurance claims and, potentially, the cost of insurance premiums.

There is some good news, however, because vehicle technology has advanced significantly in the past decade, with features like backup cameras, active braking and pedestrian detection, which employ radar, camera, lidar and other sensors to detect and track vehicles, pedestrians or objects around the vehicle. Many of these enhancements are designed to help prevent collisions and make driving safer, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. When you’re driving, the road should get your full and complete attention, because as great as all of this new technology is, it’s not perfect and collisions can still occur.

“Rear-end collisions are the most common claims we see nationwide. We had nearly 60,000 customers report they were involved in rear-end collisions last year,” said Vice President of Claims at Mercury Insurance Kevin Quinn. “People are surprised to find out they’re at fault if they hit the vehicle ahead of them, even if the other driver brakes suddenly. This is why active braking technology, which can slow down your vehicle while using cruise control or even stop it completely if someone walks in front of your car or you aren’t able to react quickly enough to hit your brakes, is a great development. But, even if you have this technology, you still need to focus on the road to avoid getting into collisions.”

The most common auto collisions to be aware of, according to Mercury Insurance, include:

1. Your vehicle is rear-ended by another vehicle;

2. Your vehicle rear-ends another vehicle;

3. Another vehicle hits your parked car;

4. Another vehicle fails to yield in an intersection and hits your vehicle;

5. Collision with a fixed object;

6. Glass damage;

7. Another vehicle hits yours while changing lanes;

8. Your vehicle hits a parked car;

9. You fail to yield in an intersection and hit another car; and

10. You back into another vehicle.

“Most of these collisions are avoidable if people pay attention to their surroundings. Cars are safer, but drivers are more distracted than ever, especially by phone apps, texting and taking calls. And it’s not just drivers who are distracted, we’re also seeing more pedestrian accidents, because they have their heads buried in their phones and aren’t paying attention while they’re walking,” said Quinn. “No message, photo or phone call is more important than your safety and the safety of others, so please drive — and walk — responsibly.”

Drivers should annually review their auto insurance policy with a local independent insurance agent. Knowing what is and isn’t covered will help in the event you’re involved in one of the common auto insurance collisions.

— Brandpoint

Did you know

Two-third of the cars affected by the Takata airbag inflator recall have not been repaired. Automakers have been sending notices to their customers, but it’s often difficult to figure out who owns all of these cars. The recalled vehicles include some models more than ten years old. Those may have been sold multiple times since they were new, leaving automakers contacting someone who doesn’t even own that car anymore.

— Nicole Wakein/BestRide

Car stats

According to a new AAA survey, an estimated 20 million Americans who purchased a real Christmas tree in the last three years did not properly secure it to their vehicle, risking serious vehicle damage and dangerous road debris. In some states, drivers can face hefty fines and penalties as well as jail time if an unsecured tree falls off their vehicle. Christmas trees can be safely transported by first using the right vehicle such as a car or SUV with a roof rack or a pickup truck. Be sure to use quality tie downs such as strong rope or nylon ratchet straps to secure the tree. Do not use the lightweight twine offered by many tree lots. Then give it several strong tugs from various directions to make sure it is secured in place and will not blow away.

Lastly, drive slowly and easily as higher speeds create significant airflow that can damage your Christmas tree and challenge even the best tie-down methods.