What If… My Car Breaks Down?

What if...

It’s not an uncommon sight to see, a vehicle on the side of the road, hazard lights flashing, hood up in the air, and with a frustrated driver stranded there. Nobody wants to be the victim of a broken down vehicle, but sometimes there’s no avoiding it.

There are usually two ways of experiencing a vehicle breakdown: walking out to the vehicle and it no longer starts, or the engine sputters to a halt while you’re driving. The worst of these two options is the latter, having a car break down while driving is scary and can leave you far from help.

If your car breaks down at your home, generally you can still make plans to work around it until you can find a way to get the car to a shop to get fixed. If you walk out of a store or leave work and the car won’t start then there’s certainly more immediacy to take action. When cars break down while driving, the situation becomes a roadside emergency that must be remedied immediately.

The important thing is to be sure your vehicle is in a safe place and away from traffic no matter where the breakdown occurs. If the car engine stops running while driving:

  1. First: Turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that your vehicle is no longer functioning properly and may be a hazard to those around you.
  2. Second:  Pull the vehicle over, getting as far out of traffic as possible whether that means taking it onto the shoulder of the road or finding an open parking space that can be used.
  3. Turn your wheels away from traffic, and set the parking brake.  If you need to exit the vehicle, always ensure it is safe to exit the vehicle before opening the door.
  4. Under most circumstances it is best to stay in the vehicle and use a cell phone to call for help rather than getting out into traffic. If there are signs of smoke, fire or odd smells entering the vehicle then exit as swiftly as you can while still being safe.

It’s best not to try to fix the vehicle yourself on the roadside. Instead, use your roadside assistance provided by:

  • A third party such as AAA.
  • Your insurance plan.

If you do not have a roadside assistance plan, call a tow truck directly if necessary.  If there is any sort of dangerous situation involved as well, immediately dial 9-1-1 for police/fire/medical support.

If you’re unsure if you have emergency roadside assistance through your insurance, contact Bob Johnson Insurance today to find out, or see if you can add it to your insurance plan.

Driving Tips: Being Prepared with Adequate Insurance Coverage

This month, we’ve been discussing all types of driving tips.

While following these tips will help you stay safe out on the road, you can’t always prepare for the future. As such, it’s imperative that you do an insurance review on a regular basis to make sure that you’re covered from various occurrences while behind the wheel.

For example, if you’re caught by a red light camera, does that count as a moving violation? Will that make your premiums go up?

What if you want to add a new teen driver to your policy? What kind of rates and coverage can you get? What happens if he or she attends a driving course?

When it comes to insurance, never assume that you’re covered. It’s always a good idea to review your policy with your agent to make sure that you have the coverage and protection you need. Don’t wait until you get into an accident to make changes or update your policy. Do it today, and you’ll have peace of mind next time you’re out on the road.

Contact us today, and we can do an insurance review with you at your convenience. Whether you want to come into the office or do it over the phone, we’re happy to go over your policy and make adjustments as needed. Remember, as insurance agents, we’re here to serve you.

Driving Tips: 5 Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving

Even though we know better, many of us have driven when we should be resting. Whether it’s been a long day at the office or we’re out late at night, driving while drowsy can be disastrous. In fact, it may be even worse than driving under the influence, depending on how tired you are.

According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 56,000 accidents per year are caused by drowsy drivers. Even if you’ve made it through unscathed before, it only takes one time to make it deadly.

Here are some considerations for you next time you get behind the wheel when you’re tired.

  • Let someone else drive. If you have passengers, don’t put the burden on yourself. Unless you’re the only person who can drive (i.e., everyone else is underage or under the influence), then let someone who is more awake handle it.
  • Take a nap first. There’s nothing wrong with pulling to the side of the road and sleeping for a few minutes. At least 15-20 minutes should be enough to help you get through the rest of your drive. If not, then either take a longer nap or try to find another solution.
  • Take a cab (or Uber). If you’re really drowsy and no one else is around, call someone to pick you up. It may seem like an inconvenience, but it’s better than getting into a collision.
  • Get out and stretch. In some cases, the fresh air can help restore your body and mind. Walking around can also get the blood pumping, which will help you feel more awake.
  • Utilize technology. Fortunately, automakers are helping combat this problem with high-tech solutions. Lane departure warnings, driver monitoring systems, and other built-in devices can ensure that you don’t let drowsy driving turn into a disaster. Consider these features during your next car purchase.

Driving Tips: Eco-Driving Skills to Save Gas

Although cars these days are becoming much more fuel efficient, that doesn’t mean that you can still go overboard with gas usage. Prices are only going to continue to rise, so you’re going to have to find creative ways to make sure that you’re not spending too much on fuel every time you go out.

So, with that in mind, here are some ways to save gas while driving.

●      Don’t stop and start too often. When faced with traffic, let your car’s momentum do most of the work. The more that you’re pressing on the gas to race to a red light, the more fuel you’re burning.

●      Use cruise control. Steady, even driving is going to provide better fuel economy, and this is one tool that ensures that you’re always at a consistent speed.

●      Don’t go too fast. According to research, every five miles above 50 adds another 17 cents per gallon. Something to keep in mind.

●      Check your tire pressure. Low or under-inflated tires are going to drastically reduce your fuel efficiency. Check them every other week or so to keep them at the right level.

●      Maintain your engine. Don’t let it go too long between checkups. As your engine wears down, it’s going to affect your fuel usage.

●      Don’t use A/C as often. Rolling down the windows should be your go-to option unless it’s really unbearable outside. The more you use air conditioning, the more gas you’re burning.

●      Only turn right. It may seem counterintuitive, but the stats back it up. Making left turns burns more fuel and takes more time. Hey, UPS does it, so why shouldn’t you?

What tips do you have to help save gas?

Driving Tips: Ways to Keep Your Teen Driver Safe

Continuing our series of Driving Tips

Ways to Keep Your Teen Driver Safe
As a parent, one of the most nerve-wracking things that you can experience is letting your child on the road as a driver. No matter how much practice he or she has had, and no matter how well he or she did on the driving test, it’s still going to put a pit in your stomach.

Thus, it’s imperative that you go over proper safety rules and techniques with your teenage driver to keep him or her from getting into a collision on the road. Remember, a teen’s mind is still developing, so even if your child acts like he or she knows it all, it’s not true.

  • Require Extra Driving Instruction: passing a test at the DMV doesn’t prepare your child for driving as much as it should. It’s a good idea to sign him or her up for a driving class that will go over more information and provide comprehensive training. An additional bonus is some insurance companies might provide a discount upon completion.  Click here to contact us to find out if your company provides such as discount.
  • Ride With Your Teen Often: this will give you an idea of how he or she is behind the wheel, and it will enable you to provide coaching on a consistent basis.
  • Don’t Nag, Encourage: it’s easy to start nitpicking your teen’s abilities, but remember that they’re still new to this. Be patient and allow him or her to get a feel for the car and how it handles. Your child will be much more responsive this way and be open to learning from you.

Overall, the more instruction and training your teenager can receive, the likelier that he or she will be safe on the road. Although your child is eager to start driving solo, don’t give in until you know that he or she is ready.

House Rules to Reinforce Safe Driving

When it comes to your teenager, you know what’s best for them. Although they may be resistant to the idea of ground rules for driving, the fact is that rules can make a significant difference in their overall safety out on the road.

Feel free to add some extra rules if you like, but the ones we’ve listed here should be enforced no matter what. They are related to the safety and security of both the car and your child, and they are universal, meaning that they should never be lifted. Once you read them, you’ll understand why.

  • Always Buckle Up: buckling your seatbelt can seem a bit lame, but it’s going to protect your body in an accident. Also, many states have strict seatbelt laws, and you (the parent) will have to pay if your teen doesn’t do it. This rule should extend to all passengers, too.
  • NO TEXTING: we cannot stress this enough. If necessary, take your teen’s phone away or swap it out for something that can’t text until the message gets across. Over 3,400 people die per year from distracted driving.
  • Don’t Allow Passengers At First: when teenagers ride together, they can do stupid things. Whether it’s showing off or getting distracted, it can put everyone in the car at risk. Wait until you feel comfortable with your teen’s abilities behind the wheel.
  • NO DRINKING OR DRUGS: like texting, this should be a zero-tolerance policy.
    Any Violation results in consequences: whether it’s a speeding ticket, a red light camera, or something else, anything that involves a fine or a police visit should bring your teen back to square one.