Accidents Rise During Pandemic: Staying Safe

Accidents Rise During Pandemic: Staying Safe

Less traffic has been hitting the roads, but cities and states across the country are actually seeing an increase in accidents- in adults and in teens. Fatal accidents involving teenagers has already hit an all-time high. Preliminary data from The National Safety Council indicates a 14% increase nationwide in fatal miles driven in the spring of 2020, compared to 2019.

While many people across the country stay inside and continue their “new normal” – working from home and only leaving the house when necessary, drivers on the less crowded roadways may be prone to take advantage of open lanes of traffic by driving recklessly, resulting in fatal accidents.

States all across the country have experienced increases in roadway deaths including California, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.

If you have to get back on the road, follow these safety tips to avoid a deadly collision.

 

Brush Up on Traffic Rules & Regulations

It’s never a bad idea to re-familiarize yourself with traffic laws, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve been behind the wheel. Before you get back on the road, take some time to go over basic traffic rules and regulations for your state, and minimize the risk of getting in an accident.

 

Don’t Speed

Speeding is a bad habit that most of us are guilty of, and when traffic is light the urge to speed increases (especially on the interstate). Not only is speeding against the law, but it also makes the road extremely dangerous for everyone on it. Speeding alone causes over 100,000 deaths every year. With clear roadways during the pandemic, more drivers are speeding to get to their destination causing fatal accidents. Avoid injuring yourself and/or others, and don’t speed.

 

Drive Defensively

It’s more important than ever to stay alert and aware when you are on the road. Defensive driving is a set of driving skills that allow you to defend yourself against possible collisions caused by other drivers. These skills include: preparing to react to other drivers, avoiding distractions, and planning for the unexpected. You should always drive defensively, even if you are obeying all of the traffic laws, because other drivers may not be.

 

Watch Out For Pedestrians

In the early months of the pandemic, we saw more and more people turn to walking and biking for socially distant exercise, and many people have kept up with these healthy habits. When you are behind the wheel stay alert and keep an eye out for pedestrians that may be biking in streets or using crosswalks.

               

Educate Your Young Driver

Every May – September is considered the “100 Deadliest Days” for young drivers, as many hit the road for the first time (even during the pandemic). Teens are inexperienced behind the wheel, which makes them more susceptible to reckless and distracted driving – the number one killer of teens in America. Pair inexperience and reckless driving with an increase in fatal accidents and you have a recipe for disaster. Before your young driver gets behind the wheel this summer, educate them on following the rules of the road, even when there is no traffic. For more tips on teaching your teen driver click here.

 

Lastly, Make Sure You Have the Proper Coverage. Although this will not help you avoid a collision, it will save you time and money in the event you do get into an accident. While collision rates are on the rise, it’s important, now more than ever, to have the right auto insurance protection for when you get back on the road. This will not only help with out-of-pocket expenses due to an accident, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing that your insurance is one thing you don’t have to worry about during these trying and uncertain times.

 

Drive smart and stay safe. For more auto insurance tips click here.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Top 6 Risk Factors for Boating Accidents

Top 6 Risk Factors for Boating Accidents

In 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,145 recreational boating accidents that caused 633 deaths. That’s a fatality rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 recreational vehicles. There were also just over 2,500 injuries and about $46 million dollars of property damage.

The weather’s beautiful. Your boat’s ready. The rivers, lakes, and shores are calling. We get it! But here’s a reminder to keep safety top of mind while enjoying excursions with friends and family.

Here are the top 6 causes of boating accidents, as reported by the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

  1. Alcohol

By far, the leading known contributor to accidents is alcohol use, which contributed to 19 percent of deaths. Remember that blood alcohol content laws are the same for drivers of cars and boats. Underage drinking laws and penalties also still apply. Alcohol use while boating can lead to reckless boating, excessive speed, and other avoidable risks.

 

  1. Operator Inattention

The boating vibe is definitely one of relaxation and fun. But it’s imperative that drivers remain attentive to their surroundings. Rocks, swimmers, submerged trees, floating debris, other watercraft and changing weather can quickly turn conditions hazardous.

 

  1. Improper Lookout

Besides the driver, every vessel must have an appointed lookout — someone who monitors for boat traffic; nearby vessels; and risks of collision, stranding and grounding. If anyone in the group is doing water sports, the lookout must alert nearby boats that someone’s in the water. Accidents in this category were due to there being no designated lookout or the lookout was not doing their job. For every boat trip, make sure you appoint someone and that they understand and fulfill their duties.

 

  1. Operator Inexperience

Safely operating a boat is not only about knowing how to drive and handle that specific vessel, but also knowing the relevant boating laws and regulations (including locale-specific rules). Boater education classes are a great first step to gain experience and know-how. Anyone driving a boat must also know how to handle emergency situations.

 

  1. Equipment Failure

Just as with cars, boats need regular maintenance, repairs, and upkeep. Make sure your boat is “water-ready” before taking it out for the season. This includes the engine and mechanical parts, as well as life preservers, flares, navigation lights, and other safety items. Do a test run of the safety equipment so you don’t have an unexpected failure out on the water.

 

  1. Excessive Speed

High speeds make debris, hazards, swimmers and other boats harder to see, and decreases reaction time. Be mindful of posted speed limits and speed laws, which should be followed at all times. Also, inexperienced drivers sometimes forget that boats don’t have brakes like cars, which can get them into trouble quickly in an emergency or unexpected situation.

 

Some Final Reminders…

Although related to the above top causes, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the following 4 boating risks to keep in mind.

    • Busy Summer Days — Beautiful weather translates to crowded waters. More traffic means the driver and lookout must remain vigilant and attentive to hazards.
    • Reckless Boating — This encompasses any risky or unsafe driving behavior, and exponentially increases with alcohol consumption and/or operator inattention and inexperience.
    • Weather Conditions — Inclement weather such as strong winds, heavy rain, or sudden lightning is a hazard in itself but can also cause swells and large waves that threaten to capsize boats.
    • Hydration —It’s easy to become dehydrated when out in the sun and the elements — and paradoxically, when surrounded by water. Remember to always have enough water on board and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Many crashes can be avoided by knowing the risks and following safety guidelines. With precautions in place, you’ll have peace of mind to enjoy those beautiful summer days and sunsets on the water.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Tips For Traveling To – And Through – Mexico

Tips For Traveling To – And Through – Mexico

With its beautiful beaches, rich culture, and delicious cuisine, Mexico is a popular travel destination. Plus, it’s one that can be reached by car for many Americans. If you’re planning a family road trip to Mexico or heading there for some much-needed rest and relaxation, you’ll want to do your research. Here are some tips to get you started.

Apply for Mexico Auto Insurance.
Mexico does not recognize U.S. auto insurance. If you’re driving to Mexico from the U.S. in your own car or a rental, you will need to purchase a tourist auto policy.

    • A Mexico auto policy will allow you to cover damages if you’re involved in an accident.
    • If you cannot show proof of Mexican insurance, you can be heavily fined and even arrested. This is true even if you are not at fault for the accident.
    • You can get coverage for the duration of your trip: a few days, a few months, or longer.
    • You can purchase this coverage from your U.S. insurer.

 

If driving your own car, apply for a vehicle permit.
Mexico requires temporary import permits, which essentially is registering your car in the country. The government agency that issues permits is called Banjercito. You will be asked to leave a monetary deposit that will be returned to you when you return home.

    • You may purchase this temporary import permit at the border.
    • You also may find it online. (Click the Ingles/English version to see the page in English.)

 

Avoid rental car scams.
It’s common for car rental places in Mexico to quote very low prices but to have hidden rental fees. When you show up to get your car, you discover that you have to pay crazy high fees.

    • Be wary of low car rental fees and make sure to read the fine print.
    • Make sure you set up rental car insurance.
    • Discover Cars is a reputable website that helps you find the best rental prices.

 

Make sure you carry valid identification.
U.S. citizens must present a valid U.S. passport (book or card) and an entry permit which you will receive at immigration when you cross into Mexico. If you are driving a car, you also need a driver’s license.

    • A U.S. driver’s license works in Mexico, but if you have time, you may apply for an international driver’s permit. It sometimes takes about 6 months to receive one, but it will translate your license into Spanish.
    • When the immigration officer hands your stamped passport back to you at customs, it will include a tear-off FMM form. Hold onto this form and keep it with you. It is important documentation and you will need to show it when you leave the country. Otherwise, you will have to pay a fine.

 

Understand Mexican road markings and signage.
You’ll want to brush up on your Spanish for your Mexico road trip. That’s the language for the road signs. The signage also may look a little bit different than what you’re used to, so familiarize yourself with it before you go. Also, Mexico uses the metric system, so you may want to reacquaint yourself with it.

    • Remember that both distance and speed limits are in kilometers. If you’re driving your U.S. car, it should have a reading for kilometers. If you’re driving a rental car from Mexico, kilometers should be displayed automatically.
    • Keep a copy of Mexican road signs with English translations with you in the car.
    • Stop lights are horizontal rather than vertical.

 

Know Mexico’s road system.
While you may expect traveling in Mexico to be a bit different than the U.S., you may be surprised at some basic differences. There are Facebook groups where you can talk to former U.S. citizens living in Mexico – ex-pats – and ask specific questions about your proposed route.

    • There may not be gas stations in rural areas. You can ask around, as sometimes gas is sold in convenience stores.
    • You have to pay to travel the highways and they can be surprisingly expensive. They only take cash, not credit cards.
    • On the free roads, look out for speed bumps that may or may not be marked. These are known as topes and can cause damage to your car if you hit them too fast.
    • If you’re traveling between states in Mexico, there are military-style checkpoints where you will have to stop and let them search your car.

 

Ride the bus.
Mexico has a bus system with different classes of service, and many U.S. visitors enjoy its higher classes—which are comparable to business class airline service.

    • Executive and first-class bus travel come with comfortable seats, air conditioning, and onboard restrooms. These routes are efficient and operate on time with few stops.
    • Some bus stations include lounges for executive travelers.
    • Toilets at bus stations come with a charge of between $3-$5 for entry, so be prepared.
    • Mexico also offers shared minibusses and vans known as colectivos (and other names). While you can save money using these, they may be cramped, without air conditioning and they have been known to break down—so use these with caution.

 

Know where you want to go.
Mexico has 758,00 square miles (or 2 million square kilometers) to explore. This includes beaches, mountains, cities, canyons, jungles, and more—plus plenty of distinctive food, culture, architecture, and activities. Plan out where you are going to go so that you can get the most out of your trip, and do it safely.

    • In some parts of Mexico, there are caverns with underground water where you can swim. These swimming holes are called cenotes.
    • Beaches in certain regions of Mexico have a seaweed problem known as sargassum. This starts in late spring and continues to the fall, so check to see whether this affects where you will be visiting.
    • Most of Mexico’s museums are closed on Mondays so plan your trip accordingly.

 

Be an informed traveler.
Travel helps to broaden your horizons with exposure to different cultures and experiences. Do your research on your destination so that you will not only understand the local perspective but you can enjoy it.

    • Know that time is relative in Mexico. Do not assume that everything is going to start on time. In most cases, it probably won’t. Plan for this when making your itinerary.
    • There is no free Wi-Fi in Mexico’s cafes and restaurants.
    • The Spanish word for women is “mujeres,” which means that bathrooms labeled with the letter “M” are for women. (This is especially confusing to American travelers!)
    • Don’t drink the tap water in Mexico. It’s not safe. To avoid paying lots of money for bottled water, consider bringing a reusable water bottle with a disposable filter.
    • Cash is king in Mexico, so where possible, pay with pesos. When paying with a credit card, many merchants will add a tip before running the card, so be aware. (You can actually tell them the tip you want to add before running the card.)
    • When withdrawing money, look for ATMs that are located inside banks. If you have a problem with a street ATM, it may be hard to locate the owner.

 

Pay attention to State Department travel warnings.
Whenever you are traveling out of the country, it is good to check the U.S. State Department’s website for any travel warnings for your destination. These will include any security or health risk warnings, including updates on COVID-19.

    • Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service that gives you the latest updates when you’re traveling out of the country.
    • The State Department will tell you if there are regions to avoid and precautions to take on your travels. Follow their recommendations.
    • A vacation could turn into an expensive COVID-19 quarantine if you unexpectedly have to cover the costs of additional days in Mexico, so plan accordingly.

 

Safe travels.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

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