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.

Driving Tips: Intersection Safety and Red Light Cameras

Driving is something that we all do, and we all think that we have it down pretty well. After all, we drive to and from work, when we go out to eat, and many other times throughout the day. If we were terrible at it, wouldn’t we be getting into wrecks every time we hit the road?

Well, as excellent as you may be at driving, the fact is that there’s always room for improvement. Not only that, but what about your new teen driver? Are you doing enough for him or her to understand the rules of the road?

With that in mind, over the next few weeks, we will share a number of helpful tips and information regarding our most abundant pastime. Whether you’ve been driving for years or you’re just learning how to do it, these tips will help you make the most out of every trip.

Intersection Safety

This is one area that we all seem to take for granted. In many cases, an intersection has signs or warnings to help you understand what to do and when to go. Stop signs, traffic lights, crosswalks, and turn signals are all elements that could be present at an intersection.

Unfortunately, however, it’s this abundance of safety precautions that leads to problems. We are so dependent on others following the signs and rules of law that we tend to forget to do the one thing we always have to do behind the wheel: pay attention.

Thus, here are some critical things to keep in mind next time you’re sitting at the intersection.

●      Don’t Assume Anything: drivers run red lights, pedestrians cross against the signal, and people ignore stop and yield signs all the time. No matter how many postings there are, all it takes is one person not paying attention to cause a collision. Don’t be that person.

●      Look Both Ways: whether the light’s green or you came to a full stop at a sign, that doesn’t mean that you’re clear to move forward. Always check your surroundings before crossing any intersection, particularly one that is busy.

●      Don’t Push Yellow Lights: too often we tend to try and rush through a yellow light. However, it could turn red before you know it, and then you may wind up in a bad spot. Don’t put yourself in that kind of position.

●      Be Ready to Yield: if you come to an intersection at the same time as someone else, you will likely have to let them pass. Don’t put yourself in danger by being in a hurry.

Red Light Cameras

These are a different animal altogether. If you’ve been tagged by a red light camera (and paid the subsequent fine), then you know how disruptive they can be to your wallet. They may seem annoying, but they are there to help protect you and keep you out of danger. Don’t believe us? According to statistics, over 200,000 people were injured in 2015 from cars running red lights.

●      Be sure to slow down on a yellow light. You will get tagged if any part of your vehicle is at the intersection when the light turns red.

●      Come to a complete stop, even if you’re turning right.

●      Not all cameras are noticeable. Even if you think there isn’t one present, don’t take the risk.

4 Driving Tips for Halloween

Halloween Driving Safety

Halloween is always a festive day for both children and adults. Costumes, candy, trick-or-treaters; there’s plenty to enjoy when this “spooky” day arrives every October.

With so much celebration and kids on foot on Halloween, especially after dark, it’s important to be extra careful when you get behind the wheel.

Below are 5 Halloween driving safety tips to help you make sure Halloween is safe for you, your passengers, and the trick-or-treaters roaming the streets.

1. Don’t drive with a mask.

Masks can be a fun part of any costume. If you are dressing up and your costume requires a mask, make sure to keep it off until you arrive at your destination. Masks can obscure vision and cause unnecessary risk to you and others!

2. Use caution in neighborhoods

While you never want to speed through a residential neighborhood, you’ll want to be especially careful on Halloween.

Families with youngsters are out trick-or-treating, crossing streets and walking in driveways. Drive slower than normal to make sure you are keeping the little ghosts and goblins in your neighborhood safe.

3. Avoid using your phone while driving

Cell phones are a driving distraction that always should be avoided.  (See Part 2 of “10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving.”)  On Halloween, it’s even more important! With children out on the streets and more traffic, you’ll want to make sure you keep eyes on the road.

Put your cell phone in your glovebox while you drive to avoid the temptation to check it while driving.  To help with sounds coming from your glovebox that might make you curious, turn off your phone or if you have an iPhone with iOS11, put your phone in “driving mode” before putting it in the glovebox.

4. Use your turn signals

You should always use your turn signals, but be extra vigilant about using them on Halloween. With the increased foot traffic, it’s important to signal when turning to avoid an accident with other cars and pedestrians.

Keep Halloween a fun and festive night for you and your neighbors!

By following a few, simple Halloween driving safety tips, you can enjoy the spirit of the season while keeping yourself, and others, safe.

10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving

Reaching in the back seat while driving

This month, we talked about avoiding common driving practices that are very dangerous. Here’s a list to all 10 parts plus the supplemental article.

Part 1: Reading While Driving

Part 2: Avoid Texting While Driving

Part 3: Driving with your Knees

Part 4: Driving with Something or Someone in your Lap

Part 5: Driving with Headphones

Part 6: Changing Clothes or Applying Makeup

Part 7: Grabbing Something Out of Reach

Part 8: Eating and Driving

Part 9: Road Raging

Part 10: The Stats

Supplemental: Driving, Teens, and Learning Disabilities — Something You Need to Know

Part 10: The Stats

The Stats

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Here’s a few statistics about distracted driving from a 2014 review published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

  • Dialing a cell phone increases the risk of a crash by 8X.
  • Reaching for a cell phone increases the risk of a crash or near crash by 7.02X.
  • Sending or receiving text messages increases the risk of crash by 3.82X.
  • Reaching for an object other than a cell phone increases the risk of crash 8X greater than waiting until the driver arrives.
  • Looking at a roadside object increases the risk of crash 3.9X.
  • Eating increases risk of crash by 2.99X over those who do not eat.

Part 9: Road Raging

Road rage - angry driver shouting in his car

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

It’s common for drivers to get upset.  Many times a person is distraught in some way before they even enter their car – a disappointment occurred, an argument happened, a trauma was experienced.  Road rage is not just getting upset at another driver.  All a motorist needs to do is be in a negative mindset.

Driving with a negative mindset is dangerous.  It causes mental distraction affecting one’s ability to concentrate.  Getting angry at another driver (regardless of who’s fault it is) may cause a person to drive more aggressively.  It’s an accident waiting to happen.

If you find yourself in a negative mindset, get calm and collected as soon as possible – preferably before starting your drive.  Don’t put anyone’s life in danger, including life of your passengers, because you are having a bad day.  It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.

Choose to drive safely.  If you find your ire increasing, do what it takes to settle things down for the sake of yourself, those who may be riding with you and for those who are in the other vehicles around you.