Summer is drawing to a close and school is starting up again, meaning increased traffic on the roads.
With college students packing up their cars to go back to campus, and parents dropping off and picking up kids from school, the increase in traffic congestion and distracted driving can create dangerous road conditions and contribute to increases in the frequency of auto accidents.
Young drivers are prone to distracted driving, especially with the increase of handheld technology. This is part of the reason why U.S. traffic deaths increased nearly 8 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to data recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
That’s why the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) has released a list of back-to-school driving safety tips for parents and young drivers, alike. There are distractions all around in the car, and PCI is encouraging drivers to put down their phones and stay focused on the road.
1. Wear seat belts
Whether taking a summer get-away or just running errands around town, PCI encourages drivers to buckle up, drive safely and try to be prepared for those who may not. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
2. Plan and allow for extra travel time
With more people on the roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a traffic crash increases. PCI encourages motorists to plan routes in advance when traveling to new destinations, be patient, and allow for extra travel time.
3. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones
Stay focused on the road and aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Please be cautious of the construction workers themselves, who are often in close proximity to the highway — and at great risk.
4. Avoid distracted driving
When the entire family is traveling in the car, the opportunity for distraction is multiplied. Remember to put the phone down, and never text while driving. Be careful when eating on the run, as lunch can be just as distracting as a cellphone. Buckle up or secure pets in the back of the car.
5. Beware of crash taxes
Although they have been banned or limited in several states, many cities, counties and fire districts will charge the at-fault driver for emergency response costs in an auto accident. Fees range from $100 to over $2,000 for response services. The average cost is $200. A typical insurance policy does not cover the cost of a fire truck responding to an accident.
6. Have a plan for roadside assistance
If an accident occurs, be wary of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for the insurer or a roadside assistance program ready. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident and drivers could find themselves facing excessive fees or complications recovering their car from the tow yard.
7. Update proof of insurance
Before hitting the road, make sure to replace any expired insurance identification cards in the event the driver needs to prove they have insurance during a traffic stop.