Best times for safe Thanksgiving road travel

If you are planning to hit the road for Thanksgiving, you’ll have plenty of company. Road travel is expected to be very high this year, bolstered by favorable gas prices right now — according to AAA, this week started off with a national average price for a gallon of regular gas of $2.885!

GasBuddy.com is a good source for the best prices — and this year, they conducted a survey on Thanksgiving travel with more than 80,000 people and learned the following:

  • When do we go? 36% say their Thanksgiving travel begins on Thanksgiving Day. 30% said it starts the day before; 18% say they’re hitting the road 2 to 3 days before.
  • What about the return trip home? 25% say they’ll fight the tryptophan malaise and drive home later on Thanksgiving Day; but the majority, 42% say they’ll wait 2 to 3 days and drive home Saturday or Sunday. 22% of us expect to hit the road with a fresh start the next morning.
  • How well prepared are we? 95% of respondents have a smart phone. 52% say they use 2 to 3 travel apps for their Thanksgiving travels; 34% will actively use 4 or more apps.

Google Maps examined the traffic conditions over the last 2 years for 21 cities in the U.S. and translated that data to travel tips for those of you who will be on the road: the best day to travel? That would be Thanksgiving day itself. Google offers tips for days to avoid, the best time to set out, the best times to travel home, and more. See the full list of Google Thanksgiving travel tips here – we’ve excerpted a few infographic-style tips below.
travel-1travel2travel-3

 

New report on biking fatalities shows risk groups, problems

More and more bikers are taking to the roads. That’s good for many reasons: it’s an an environment-friendly transportation option, it’s economical and it offers health and cardio benefits to the rider.

There’s a flip side of the coin, though. According to a new report from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety. The report notes that, “… yearly bicyclist deaths increased 16 percent between 2010 and 2012, while overall motor vehicle fatalities increased just one percent during the same time period.”

1-2014_bike_increase

The report also notes that some groups are at higher risk.

  • In 1975, adults represented only 21% of all fatalities; On 1974, adults repreent 74% of all fatalities.
  • Bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon, accounting for 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012, compared with 50 percent in 1975.
  • While bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes increased in 22 states between 2010 and 2012, six states – California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas – represented 54 percent of all fatalities.

2-2014_bike_adults

3-2014_bike_urban

In looking at prevention, these rather shocking stats from 2012 are significant:

  • Two-thirds or more of fatally injured bicyclists were not wearing helmets
  • 28% of riders age 16+ had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 percent or higher, compared with 33 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers.

Click for the full report and other tools

4-2014_bike_helmet

5-2014_bike_alc

Resources / Prior Posts
For National Bike Month, here’s the scoop on insurance

Protecting your bicycle from bike thieves

Bike Safety for Kids

Salute to Our Veterans

veteransNovember 11, 1918 marked the end of hostilities in World War I, “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way – there have been many wars since. And since 1919, on November 11 each year, we honor our veterans. There are approximately 22 million veterans living in the United States, with about 2.6 million from the post-9/11 era and just under 1 million from WWII.

Here are some ways to mark the day:

Veterans Day Ceremonies and Events

2014 Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts

5 ways to honor veterans beyond Veterans Day

How to Celebrate Veterans Day — If You Aren’t a Veteran

Please support our vets, particularly those who are disabled. Plus, far too many are homeless or  unemployed.

Here are some ways to give back to veterans. Please take care to donate only to legitimate veteran organizations – FTC tells us that there are a lot of scams masquerading as veteran charities and offers tips to ensure that your donation goes to a legitimate source.

Slow down: International TV spots promoting safe driving speeds

It’s interesting to see how some other countries approach the issue of on-the-road safety through public safety announcements (PSAs). It’s not uncommon for spots to be much more graphic or dramatic in content than we would tend to run here in the U.S. We’ve chosen a sampling of PSAs aimed at speeding that are dramatic but not especially graphic. (Alert: they can still be upsetting.)

The first PSA is an experiment from the Victoria Transport Accident Commission that demonstrates the difference that slowing down by only 5 km an hour can make on an impact … that translates to just over 3 miles per hour. How much of a difference could such a small speed reduction possibly make? See for yourself.

The second PSA is a dramatic one from the New Zealand Transport Agency, who says: “No one should pay for a mistake with their life. When we drive, we share the road with others, so the speed we choose to travel at needs to leave room for any potential error.”

“Just Slow Down” is more of a mini-documentary than an ad. It’s from the Winnipeg Police Service. Two young guys tell their experience of surviving a speed-related crash that killed two of their friends. Terribly sad because it is true.

Northern Ireland has a very strong spot that has been under a great deal of protest and controversy. The controversy has caused the spot to go viral on the web. We’ve chosen not to embed it here, but you can read about why it’s creating such a strong reaction and see the spot here: People Are Pretty Angry About This Out-of-Control Safe-Driving Ad From Northern Ireland Too real, or not real enough?

Know your risk: American Diabetes Month

diabetesNearly 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes – kids & adults. Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have high blood sugar but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

  • One important risk factor for diabetes is family history.
  • Most people with type 2 diabetes have a family member with the disease. If you have a mother, father, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • If you have a family history of diabetes – or other risk factors that increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes such as being overweight or obese, physically inactive, over the age of 45, or if you got diabetes during pregnancy.

Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test – it’s quick and easy.

There are things you can do to help prevent or delay the onset of the disease

  • Choose foods such as fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken and turkey without the skin, dry beans and peas, whole grains, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese. Drink water instead of juices or sodas.
  • When eating a meal, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with a lean protein, such as beans, or chicken or turkey without the skin, and one quarter with a whole grain, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
  • Set a goal to be active at least 30 minutes, 5 days per week. You can start slow by taking 10 minute walks, 3 times a day. Ask family members to be active with you.
  • Every day write down what you eat and drink and the number of minutes you are active. Review it every day. This will help you reach your goals.
  • Talk to your doctor about your family health history. Diabetes is a serious disease and it is important to know your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Lower your risk
  • Take Small Steps to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
  • Weekly cooking tips, recipes, and easy ways to be more active

Sources:

Not to be too spooky, but how much is your body worth?

Happy Halloween! We couldn’t think of a more appropriate and ghoulish topic for the day than finding out what your body is worth. The excellent infographic below gives you a good body-part-by-body-part snapshot of your market value. (Click for larger). Or fill out a brief questionnaire for a more personalized version of your body’s worth in dollars and cents.

If you are feeling really macabre, you may want to visit the The Death Clock, which bills itself as “the Internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away… second by second.” Enter your date of birth, sex, BMI and smoking status. You can choose to your results on a scale ranging from “sadistic” to “optimistic” – or just plain “normal.” If things look really dire, think about your life insurance coverage and update your beneficiaries.  Oh — and we really can’t think of a better way to celebrate the day and ensure your longevity than to sign up as an organ donor.

body-value

The scariest place to be on Halloween?

Halloween background

That’s an easy one: “Nothing is scarier than a trip to the emergency room,” said Mark Cichon, DO, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Loyola University Health System. “In a season devoted to frights, it is our goal to keep everyone safe.”

Pumpkin carving injuries, trips & falls and choking injuries are all among some of the most common Halloween-related injuries that could make for a scary unplanned ER visit. Dr. Cichon offers his excellent tips for a safe Halloween. Here are some of our safety tips:

Home Safety

  • When decorating, avoid candles – use LED lights and battery-powered lights instead.
  • Take care not to overload electrical circuits with lights.
  • Paper and dried plant decorations can easily ignite. Keep them away from flames, lights, and electrical cords.
  • Keep porches and walkways well lit and free of debris and clutter that might be tripping hazards; Put reflective tape on your steps and along your walkway.
  • Park your car in a garage, if possible. Mischief makers may egg your house or car.
  • Lock up bicycles, gas grills and other outdoor valuables.

Kid Safety

  • Consider parties and visits to charity based Haunted Houses as an alternative to Trick or Treating
  • Equip kids with flashlights. Add day-glo or light-reflective tape to their costumes.
  • Make sure costumes are fire-safe and flame-resistant.
  • Ensure costumes and masks don’t impair vision or present a tripping hazard.
  • Make sure kids are dressed warmly and have comfortable, non-slip footwear.
  • Costume accessories and props should be short , pliable, and soft – no hard, long, pointy, or sharp objects
  • Inspect all candy before kids eat it. Be alert for choking hazards and watch for anything that is loose or unwrapped.
  • Don’t let kids walk while eating candy on a stick – very dangerous if they trip.
  • Don’t let kids eat homemade treats unless made by someone you know very well
  • Stick to familiar neighborhoods and familiar houses
  • Kids shouldn’t enter any homes unless they know the neighbors well
  • Kids without adults should keep in groups
  • Walk on sidewalks. Complete one side of the street, cross carefully, and complete the other side.
  • Use cross walks and crossing lights whenever possible.

Pet safety

  • Don’t forget about your pets – they could be upset by the unusual activity and may be skittish. Keep them inside and away from the door so they don’t frighten or nip at your guests.
  • Be careful not to let your pets eat candy, which can be toxic to them.
  • More: Halloween Perils For Pets … and People, Too

Other issues

Call your agent
If you should suffer any damage to your property or have any accidents during Halloween weekend, file a claim as soon as possible to get the claim process in motion. Be ready with the details of where and when the event occurred, along with the names and addresses of any injured parties or witnesses to the event. If there is damage to your property, report it to the police, take photos, and record the details so you won’t forget them later.

Take these quizzes to see how safe you are online

octoberThink you’re safe online? October is Cyber Security Awareness month – a good time to put things to the test.Take these two quizzes to see how you fare.

Phishing Quiz – Think you can Outsmart Internet Scammers?
Ever wonder how good you are at telling the difference between a legitimate website and one that’s a phishing attempt? Take this quiz to find out.

How cyber-savvy are you?
Test your knowledge about the cyber security risks you face every day. Take the 11-question quiz to find out how cyber-savvy you are!

Whether on a desktop, laptop or mobile device, your password is often your greatest point of vulnerability. Is your password on the list of the Top 500 Worst Passwords of All Time? If so, change it now!

Here are two tools from Microsoft that can help in formulating a better password:

It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week

Driving: Teens in Car

October 19-25 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year olds. Teenagers are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than adults. As many of these 30% of these accidents involve alcohol. Distracted driving is also a key issue. The most dangerous time of a teen driver’s life is the first 12 months of holding an independent license.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a Driver Education Toolkit with a variety of fact sheets on topics that are valuable to novice and experienced drivers alike:

  • Alcohol and Driving
  • Blindzone Glare Elimination
  • Driver Distractions
  • Efficient Steering Techniques
  • Proper Seat Belt Use
  • Risk Management
  • Visual Search / Perception
  • Work / Construction Zones

Other great resources include the National Safety Council’s Teen Driving page, the Insurance Information Institute’s Teen Drivers page and Ride like a Friend.

Flus, allergies, colds, oh no! Fighting seasonal maladies

z-flu

It’s that time of year again – flus, colds, and allergies are kicking in. Flu season runs from October through May, generally peaking in February. When you get sniffles and aches, it’s hard to differentiate because these maladies have similar symptoms — but the treatment can be very different. The National Institute of Health offers a handy chart comparing symptoms, treatment and prevention:
Cold, Flu, or Allergy? Know the Difference for Best Treatment

The flu can be serious for some groups: seniors (65+), children (especially those younger than 2), and people with chronic health conditions. Your best defense is a flu vaccine. The CDC suggests that everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine.

Use the Flu Vaccine Finder to find a location near you.

In addition to the flu, parents are quite concerned about virus affecting kids – while it is not a new virus, it seems to be popping up and causing concern. The CDC offers more resources to learn about Enterovirus D68, as well as some prevention tips.

EV68-infographic

Here are links for more helpful flu resources