PCI Says Keep Labor Day Safe and Fun; Avoid Driving Distractions

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The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America is urging motorists to use caution and avoid unnecessary distractions as they drive on the roadways this Labor Day weekend.

Distracted driving is a major safety concern that contributes to thousands of traffic fatalities each year.

With Labor Day marking the unofficial end of the summer driving season, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is urging motorists to use caution and avoid unnecessary distractions as they drive on the roadways.

AAA is projecting that approximately 28 million people will be taking trips and reaching their destination by driving this Labor Day weekend. According to AAA, this is a 3 percent increase from last Labor Day.

“The Labor Day weekend is often filled with fun social activities such as festivals, trips to the beach or just hanging out with friends and family but the temptation to stay connected through a cell phone or by texting could prove tragic,” said Bob Passmore, senior director of personal lines for PCI. “Distracted driving is a major safety concern that contributes to thousands of traffic fatalities each year. While texting and cell phone use get a lot of media attention, distractions can include anything from a car navigation system, to eating a hamburger, to disciplining the kids in the back seat. To reduce the risk of accidents, avoiding distractions should be a high priority for motorists right along with seat belt use and obeying all traffic laws.”

This year texting bans for all drivers have become effective in Alabama, Idaho, Nevada, Ohio and West Virginia, bringing the total to 39 states with these laws in place. The Ohio law which bans texting for all drivers and cell phone use for novice drivers becomes effective just in time for Labor Day. Also the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced a new grant program that will provide approximately $17.5 million to states that have laws banning distracted driving in fiscal year 2013.

PCI supports initiatives to increase the knowledge of motorists on the hazards of distracted driving and identify steps that motorists can take to prevent distractions from affecting their driving performance. As we have seen with other motor safety issues such as seat belt use and drunk driving, there is no single answer to addressing the problem of distracted driving. The enactment of laws and having strong enforcement are positive steps. However, it takes a coordinated strategy combining education, personal responsibility and enforcement to get results.

PCI’s Labor Day Driving Tips:
Whether you’re making a summer get-away or just running errands around town, we encourage you to buckle up, drive safely and try to be prepared for those who do not.

Buckle Up. The number one driving safety tip is to buckle up. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.

Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a traffic crash increases. We encourage motorist to plan their routes in advance when traveling on unfamiliar roads, be patient and allow extra travel time.

Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Enforcement penalties for texting while driving are often increased in construction zones. Be especially aware if construction workers are on the highway.

Avoid distracted driving. When the entire family is traveling in the car there are many things that will distract attention away from the road. Remember to put the phone down; don’t hold the phone or text while driving. Be careful when eating on the run, eating lunch can be just as districting as a cell phone. Buckle up or secure pets in the back of the car.

Beware of crash taxes. Although they have been banned in 13 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.

Have a plan for roadside assistance. If an accident occurs, be wary of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready so you know who to call. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident and you could find yourself facing excessive fees or complications getting the car out of the tow yard.

Keep proof of insurance. Before getting on the road, look in the glove box and make sure to have a proof of insurance card in the car. However, did you know that growing number of states Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana and Minnesota give motorists the flexibility to either show proof of coverage with an App or PDF copy saved on a phone or the traditional hard copy proof of insurance card.

PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $190 billion in annual premium, 40 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 46 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 32 percent of the homeowners market, 38 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 41 percent of the private workers compensation market.

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