Road Trip Safety During the Pandemic

Road Trip Safety During the Pandemic

Whether you’re making the trek to visit relatives for the holidays or finally taking that delayed summer getaway, you may be getting ready to hit the open road again.

Of course, a road trip during a pandemic is quite different from our carefree road trips of the past. But with some prep work, some new safety habits, and a go-with-it attitude, you can still make your trip memorable and safe.

 

covid travel

Service and Prep Your Vehicle

You want to be comfortable and safe on your trip, so put your mind at ease by giving your car a little love before heading out.

    • Get it serviced. Schedule your car for a full service and inspection, which may include oil change, fluids check and top-off, tire check, brakes, etc.
    • Double-check the emergency kit. Add, update, and replace items as needed. Use our handy essentials emergency kit article as your guide. Make sure it includes a first aid kit.
    • Add Covid-specific supplies. Throw in extra masks, sanitizing wipes and gel (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol), and disposable gloves into your kit.
    • Pack for comfort. Knowing you’ll be spending hours on the road, pack music, tablets, blankets, comfy shoes, and flip-flops, as well as jackets and easy-to-throw on layers. Sunglasses, stick-on sunshades, and sunscreen will help protect against all those UV rays (though not as hot in autumn, the rays can still do damage).   
    • Limit shopping along the way. Bring along things from home that you know are not contaminated, such as snacks, bottled water, medicine, phone chargers, and trash bags.

 

covid travel saftey

Plan It Out & Prep Ahead of Time

A lot has changed in the last several months, which means you’ll need to do a little more legwork ahead of your trip.

    • Map out your route. Even if you’ve made this trip before, there may be unexpected closures along the way. Use a mapping app to get ahead of any problem areas.
    • Check states and counties for Covid-19 case counts. Avoid traveling through areas with high breakouts or infection rates.
    • Check travel restrictions for your destination and locations along the way. Some states and cities are requiring travelers from other areas to quarantine for 14 days upon entry (or are outright barring visitors).
    • Before setting out, download one or two payment apps such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay to limit the number of germy PIN pads you have to touch.
    • Have a plan in case you or a family member gets sick. This virus is wily, and sometimes sickness happens despite all your best prevention efforts. So have a contingency plan ready to go.

 

covid travel safety

Have a Plan for Dining & Restaurants

Restaurants can be especially risky as hotspots for coronavirus transmission. Reduce yours and your family’s risk with these tips.

    • Bring your own stash of non-perishable food in case of restaurant closures or limited dining options.
    • Utilize drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curbside pick-up options if you want to reduce your exposure. Pack a family-sized picnic set (and blanket) ahead of time so you’ll have utensils and plates at the ready. Scout out parks or lakes where you and your family can eat.
    • If a restaurant offers outdoor seating, choose that over sitting indoors. Bring coats and lap blankets if it’s chilly.
    • If dining indoors, choose restaurants that maintain social distancing between tables indoors. Wear your mask as much as possible.

 

covid travel safety

Know Your Game Plan for Hotels & Lodging

Because hotels are high-traffic areas, it’s important to take extra safety steps before, during, and after your stay.   

    • Research hotels and reserve in advance.
    • Call ahead and ask about their policies on cleaning and disinfecting, as well as contactless check-in and check-out.
    • Whatever the hotel’s stated cleaning policies, make sure you swipe high-touch areas in your room with disinfectant wipes: doorknobs and handles, bathroom fixtures and counters, light fixtures, TV buttons, and remote control, and any surface where you might put bags, computers, purses, etc.
    • Ask the front desk to forgo housekeeping services, as it limits the number of people in your room.
    • Minimize use of high-traffic areas such as lounge areas, dining areas, saunas, fitness centers, and salons.

 

covid travel safety

Must-Do’s for the Entire Trip

Make a habit of the following, and safety will soon become second nature.

    • Follow the basics at all times: Frequent handwashing, mask-wearing in indoor public spaces (and outdoors where you can’t socially distance), and 6 feet distance between you and others outside your household.
    • Limit the number of stops along your route.
    • Use contactless payments wherever possible.
    • Be cautious when touching fuel pumps – diligently use hand sanitizer after every use or use disposable gloves.
    • Use hand sanitizer every time you enter your vehicle (same goes for family members), which will keep your vehicle’s interior clean.
    • Wipe down your car’s interior every day – preferably multiple times. Especially germy surfaces include door handles, steering wheel, gear knob, stereo and temperature control dials, cup holders, and seatbelts.
    • Have your whole family make a habit of wiping down their phones multiple times a day – phones may well be our most-touched item.

While road trips in 2020 may be nothing like those of the past, yours can still be something you and your family look back on with fondness, good feels, and probably some laughs as well.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

5 Tips for Safe Night Driving

5 Tips for Safe Night Driving

When daylight savings ends and our days become shorter, motorists will find themselves driving more often at dusk and in the dark.

As we turn our clocks back, it’s important to keep in mind that night driving is more dangerous than daytime driving – mostly due to reduced visibility and difficulty judging speed and distance. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, while we do only one-quarter of our driving at night, it’s when 50 percent of traffic fatalities occur.

Here are five ways you can stay safer on the roads at night.

 

1. Be Headlight Savvy

Proper headlight usage and maintenance will go a long way toward safe night driving. Remember the general rule of turning headlines on before sunset, and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise, which will help other drivers see you. Also:

    • Aim headlights correctly (ask your dealer or mechanic/repair shop to double-check them next time you’re in).
    • Make sure they’re clean.
    • Regularly test your high beams, low beams, running lights, turn signals, and brake lights.
    • On rural roads or other dark areas, use high beams. Dim them when you’re within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle.

 

 

2. Slow Down and Give Room

Due to reduced visibility, drivers at night often need more time to both see other cars, pedestrians, and obstacles, and also to react safely. Give yourself the advantage by slowing down a bit and also giving yourself some extra room on the road.

    • Increase your following distance from other vehicles.
    • Allow more time for your journey.
    • Be a(n extra) defensive driver, as others may be intoxicated or driving erratically.
    • Watch out for pedestrians and wildlife. For the latter – collisions with deer are most common at dusk or at night, usually October through January (see our 30-second video on what to do if you hit a deer).

 

 

3. Give Your Car’s Interior a Once-Over

A little extra attention inside your vehicle can greatly affect how you see and react to things outside your car.

    • Clean the windshield – inside and out – removing all streaks, smudges, and fogginess.
    • Clean the other windows as well to reduce glare and condensation.
    • Use your car’s defroster or heater to prevent your windshield from fogging up.
    • Dim your dashboard lights so controls are still visible but not distracting.
    • Use visors to shield the glare of outdoor street lighting.
    • Avoid using cabin lights as much as possible when driving at night.

 

4. Stay Alert

Two big risks on nighttime roads are drunk driving and drowsy driving. Always remember and stay alert for other drivers who may be impaired due to alcohol, fatigue, or distraction. For yourself, never drive intoxicated and use the tips below to keep yourself alert.

    • Take breaks if you need to – get out and do jumping jacks, shake out your limbs, stretch, take some deep breaths.
    • If you’re on a long trip, try these things to stay awake: coffee or caffeinated drinks, windows rolled down for fresh air, talking, or singing to yourself.

 

 

5. Be Kind to Your Eyes

You can take steps, both in the moment while night driving, and in the longer term to take care of your eyes so they can take care of you on the road.

    • Make sure you get your eyes checked regularly, which will alert you to any vision changes. If you wear prescription lenses, you may need a different prescription at night.
    • Make sure your glasses are anti-reflective.
    • Never wear dark or tinted lenses for night driving.
    • To protect your eyes from drying out, aim your car’s vents away from your eyes.
    • Keep your eyes moist by blinking regularly, especially if you wear contact lenses.
    • Don’t look directly at oncoming headlights; instead, look at the road marker to your right until the car passes.

 

Finally, avoid two-lane highways at night if possible, as they’re especially dangerous. This and the other tips above will help you stay stress-free and safer during nighttime driving.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

Break Your Texting-While-Driving Habit

Break Your Texting-While-Driving Habit

Stopping the texting habit can be really hard. We’re glued to our phones seemingly 24/7, and the alerts, dings, and chimes make them irresistible even when we’re behind the wheel.

This dangerous yet pervasive habit is causing some sobering statistics: 1.6 million crashes each year, with almost 390,000 injuries and more than 2,800 deaths.

Technology’s not going away anytime soon and self-driving cars are still off in the future – so how do we stop texting? Let’s look to psychology for some guidance – specifically, to some mental hacks to kick a habit.

 

How Habits Form

For a habit to become ingrained, a “habit loop” must first become established. This loop has 3 elements:

  1. This is the trigger that tells your brain to do something, like grabbing the phone when you hear a text chime. It’s often automatic—we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
  2. This is the behavior or action itself. Here, it’s picking up the phone and typing out a text reply.
  3. If there’s a reward after the behavior, it strengthens the habit loop. In this case, that might be an actual or anticipated reply, or the satisfaction of sending off that text that you keep meaning to send.

No wonder habits are so “sticky”—each step reinforces the next. Understanding how it works in your life is key to breaking the habit and forming a new one. It just takes a little self-awareness and a commitment to change.

 

Breaking the Habit Loop

By disrupting one or more components of the loop, you can transition to a life of text-free driving.

1.Review Your Cues: Figure out what’s making you reach for your phone.

      • If you can’t ignore the sound alerts, turn your phone to silent and stash it out of sight (or better yet, out of reach).
      • Install an app that silences your phone while you’re driving. These apps detect when your car is in motion and automatically silence it for the duration. Options include Not Disturb While Driving (iphones), Driving Detective for Android, or Google’s Android Auto.
      • If your cue is boredom, practice mindfulness (a great skill for all aspects of life).

 

2. Refresh Your Routine: A few tweaks could make a big difference.

      • Send texts before you leave, then put away the phone.
      • If you have a passenger with you, have them be your thumbs.
      • Sign off a conversation with X or #X, which means you’re driving.
      • Let your 5 closest contacts know you’re changing it up. Most of our communications are just with them.

 

3. Reframe Your Rewards: Really contemplate the risks of texting while driving.

      • Think back to a texting close call. Think through the worst-case scenario. Now write it down and keep it in plain view in your car. Read it every time you get in.
      • Whenever you feel a temptation to reach for your phone, think of who would be devastated if you were to crash while texting.
      • When not reaching for your phone, embrace the feeling of not being anxious and distracted.

 

Want to really kickstart your commitment? Sign The National Safety Council’s Just Drive pledge.. If you have young drivers at home, team up, and make the commitment together (and get safe driving tips for them here).

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

 

 

5 Driving Experiences Your Teen Needs

5 Driving Experiences Your Teen Needs

Teen drivers are the most accident-prone of all drivers because of one major factor: inexperience. In fact, their first 6-12 months of solo driving is the most dangerous stretch of their lifetime as a licensed driver.

Because they’ve logged far fewer hours compared to other drivers, they are less able to predict – and properly respond to – hazards, sudden changes in traffic and erratic behaviors by other drivers. They also typically haven’t made a habit of defensive driving techniques, leaving them vulnerable to making wrong decisions in the moment.

If you have a young driver (or soon-to-be licensed driver) in the house, as a parent, your years of driving experience are an invaluable asset. Here are some ways you can leverage that knowledge and expertise to help boost your teen’s safe driving know-how.

 

The Learning Permit Phase: A Golden Opportunity

Many new teen drivers complete their learner’s permit training lacking important real-world driving skills. You can help your teen shore up that deficit by serving as co-pilot in a range of driving scenarios and situations during the permit phase. By exposing them to – and coaching them through – diverse experiences behind the wheel, you will help them become a confident, safe and independent driver.

Although you may feel more secure behind the wheel, here are some driving scenarios that teens need to experience.

 

1. Bad Weather

There’s a big difference between answering driver test questions about how to handle bad weather and how to actually do it in the moment. When possible, have your teen drive you during the following weather events.

  • Snow
  • Wind
  • Heavy rain
  • Sleet

 

2. Different Roads

Different roadways (and intersections) call for different driving skills and techniques. Ditto for traffic situations. Expose them to as many as you can, including:

  • One-way roads
  • Two-lane roads with high-speed limits
  • Peak commute traffic
  • Multi-lane highways and interstates
  • Congested roads in urban centers
  • Residential streets

 

3. Day, Night, and Everything in Between

Bright light at dawn and sunset, as well as low light at dusk, affects drivers’ visibility and also influence traffic patterns and behaviors. Practice driving with your teen at different times of day and night. Coach them on the adjustments they need to make in terms of following distance and defensive driving, as well as personal adjustments with visors, sunglasses, headlights, and more.

 

4. Switch up passengers

For a new driver, devoting their full attention to driving and the road is incredibly important. Knowing that your teen won’t be driving alone forever, why not invite another family member or friend along so your teen can start strengthening their “focus muscles”? Distractions are a major cause of accidents among teens, so the sooner they can begin successfully managing distractions while driving, the better.

 

5. Different cars

If your family has multiple cars, have your teen practice in each of them. Sedans drive much differently from SUVs, and stick shifts from automatics, etc. – all are good for them gaining familiarity with a variety of vehicles.

 

Teen Drivers’ Most Common Errors

In addition to exposing your young driver to a range of on-the-road experiences, be sure to also help them cultivate good driving habits. Here are the top errors that inexperienced drivers make – keep an eye out for them and coach your teen along the way.

  1. Lack of scanning – Inexperienced drivers typically detect hazards later than more experienced drivers and may be unsure how to react. Left turns are especially dangerous for them.
  2. Distractions – No matter whether they come from inside or outside the vehicle, distractions are a common reason for teen crashes.
  3. Speeding – This includes driving too fast for road conditions or weather as well as inadequate braking. This error commonly ends in rear-end events.
  4. Tailgating – Inexperienced teens haven’t yet gained a feel for safe cushion distances and can easily follow other vehicles too closely.

 

Teens need extra time and experience to master good driving skills. By accompanying them in a variety of driving settings and conditions – as well as lending your years of expertise – you’ll help them develop critical skills for more safely navigating our roadways. For more teen driver safety tips, click here.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

 

 

Teens and Distracted Driving – What You Can Do

Teens and Distracted Driving – What You Can Do

Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens, with drivers aged 16-19 the most likely to be in a fatal car crash of all drivers.

Teens’ inexperience behind the wheel is a primary reason for these tragic statistics. Another is reckless and distracted driving – unfortunately, exhibited by many drivers but especially problematic for younger drivers.

October 18 to 24 is National Teen Driver Safety Week and October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Together, these observances offer a perfect opportunity to join the movement to keep teens safer on the road. As parents, educators, and adults in teens’ lives, we have an important role to play in helping reduce these 100% preventable deaths.

 

Teens & Distracted Driving

Because of their driving inexperience, teens are much more likely to engage in distracted driving – which is any activity that distracts their attention away from driving and the road.

Distractions can be visual, manual, or cognitive. Examples are eating food, fiddling with the stereo, applying make-up, engaging with passengers, or reaching for things in their car. Far and away, the biggest one is cell phones: texting, emailing, watching videos, talking.

 

What You Can Do

As adults in teens’ lives, we have a great opportunity to lead by example, encourage responsible behaviors, and support teens in developing safe driving habits.

  • Parents – As a parent, you may have more influence than you think: Teens who say their parents set rules and gave advice in a supportive, helpful way are 50% less likely to crash. Here are some things you can do:
      • Set an example by practicing safe, non-distracted driving every time you get in the car.
      • Talk to your teen about the rules of the road, responsibilities of being a licensed driver, and statistics about distracted driving. Look up your state’s penalties for using the phone while driving and inform them that in states with graduated driver licensing, a violation could mean a suspended license.
      • Take the pledge. Have everyone in your family sign a pledge to drive distraction-free (resources below).
      • Set consequences for distracted driving, which could include suspension of driving privileges and/or their phone.
      • Encourage your teen to be an ambassador of safe driving with their peers. Teens are often the best messengers to their peers.
  • Teachers/educators – Teachers have a unique opportunity to add important safety messaging during their class day. Look for resources (see below) for the classroom – whether that’s remote or in-person. Model safe driving whenever you drive.
  • Employers – If you have young employees, promote a culture of safe driving. Car accidents are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths. Set policies for cell phone use in the workplace and educate staff members about safe-driving habits.
  • Law enforcement officers – Peace officers are on the front lines of keeping our roads safe and have an outsized influence in reinforcing safe driving habits whenever dealing with young drivers.
  • Community members – As a member of your community, take advantage of all the ways you can help keep teen drivers safe. Drive safely every time you get into the car, advocate for teen drivers, join pledges, and make your support visible.

 

 

Pledges and Resources

Whether at home, in the classroom, or at the workplace, use the resources below to reinforce safe driving messaging.

  • Safe driving pledges
  • Resources
      • Impact Teen Drivers has abundant resources for teachers, including videos, posters, and lesson plans. Also, check out their contest for teens to use their creativity to communicate the importance of safe driving. (Disclaimer: California Casualty is a founding sponsor of this important organization – read more
      • TextLess Live More – a student-led, peer-to-peer advocacy group focused on ending distracted driving.
      • Traffic Safety Marketing offers downloadable materials for National Teen Driver Safety Week: general safety resources as well as some specifically for distracted driving.
      • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers resources for parents, pediatricians, and community partners to keep teen drivers safe on the road.

 

Reducing needless teen deaths from car crashes is a cause we can all take part in. One of the most important things you can do is to lead by example. Together we can end distracted driving.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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 with a Toddler

Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Traveling with a toddler is always an adventure — no matter where you go!

In observance of Child Passenger Safety Week, we’ve compiled a safety checklist for trips near and far. And because we care about your mental health (wink), we’ve also included some parental survival strategies for good measure.

Plan your getaway and go make some great road trip memories!

 

Safety First

  1. Make sure your car’s road-ready – A lot can happen out there, so be sure to get your car serviced ahead of time. Tires, oil, engine fluids, wipers — make sure they’re all in tip-top shape.
  2. Get a car seat inspection – If you have any doubts about whether your car seat’s installed properly, you can book an appointment with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in your community by visiting here (use the search tool at the bottom). While you’re at it, register your seat online so you can get notified in case of a safety recall.
  3. Guard against heatstroke – Heatstroke can occur at any time of year, in any condition, and in any community. Protect your child by taking them with you instead of leaving them in the car alone and always looking in your car before locking. Keep your vehicle locked when not in use (and keys away from curious little hands).
  4. Eliminate back over risk – Tragically, many children are killed or injured by cars backing out of driveways and parking spaces. There are many precautions you can take as a driver and ways you can protect your children against a backover accident — see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s list here.
  5. Don’t leave them alone in the car – Even if you need to run into the store for “just a minute” it’s better to be safe than sorry. From heat stroke to foul play to your child getting loose in the car, the risk of leaving them in the car far outweighs any savings in time or trouble.
  6. Make sure you have roadside assistance – Out of mind when you don’t need it, priceless when you do — roadside assistance is especially important when traveling with young ones. It usually covers towing to a service station, battery jumping, flat tire repairs, unlocking car doors, and a range of other catastrophe rescues.
  7. Pack your first aid kit – Bruises, scrapes, stings, sunburns, and splinters are just as likely to happen away from home. Be ready with your kit, and maybe even refresh your first aid and CPR skills.
  8. Prevent power window injuries – Keep little fingers, hands, and wrists safe by using the power window locks, making sure toddlers are secure in their car seats, and teach them not to play with the switches.
  9. Secure the seat belts – Keep your child from getting entangled in seat belts by securing the loose ones within their reach. Ensure they’re restrained in their car seat at all times while in the car.

 

Sanity-Savers for You

  1. Separate the kids – It’s inevitable: if you’re traveling with more than one kid, they’re going to fight at some point. Get ahead of the inevitable by seating them as far from each other as possible. Obviously, the bigger the car, the easier this is.
  2. Take breaks – Kids need to move. Heck, adults need to move! If you can look for parks or playgrounds, all the better — but any place that lets you stretch your legs, move around and break up the monotony will work.
  3. Prep your hygiene arsenal – Make sure to pack plenty of potty supplies, wipes, tissues, and paper towels (not to mention cleaning supplies for spills and food accidents).
  4. Kid-ify your itinerary – Plan your trip with your kid(s) in mind. This means taking nap schedules and energy peaks/valleys into account, and planning out when you’ll arrive at destinations (and what those are), when will be best for the multi-hour highway time, etc.
  5. Stock up on healthy snacks – Having nutritious snacks on hand prevents you from desperation-buying chips at the gas station or sitting through a sugar crash tantrum. Raw veggies, fruit, trail mix, crackers, and low-sugar baked goods are usually winners.
  6. Don’t forget the entertainment – Keeping toys and books close to your toddler will allow you to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. If your car has a screen, bring in-flight entertainment! Finally, playing road games is a favorite, no matter the generation.
  7. Bring binkies and blankies – It’s important to pack some comfort from home if you’ll be gone for any length of time. Blankies and binkies might calm your child like nothing else in the midst of the excitement and new surroundings.

Prepping ahead of time will make any road trip smoother, but it does wonders for traveling with toddlers.

 

 

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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