Trucks & teens: Tips for safely sharing the road

trucks on the highway

Learning the rules of the road is essential for all new drivers, both teens getting their first driver’s license and adults venturing behind the wheel for first time. More and more Americans are delaying getting their licenses, and in an age that promises self-driving cars in the near future, that makes sense. But right now driving is still an important part of our lives, and safe driving is a rewarding skill that results in fewer accidents and injuries, lower insurance premiums, and lower public safety costs.

One of the scariest things that new drivers face on the roads are 18-wheelers. Big trucks are, well, big. And powerful. And they aren’t particularly nimble. New drivers tend to take them for granted or to become distracted by them. Both mistakes can have tragic outcomes. Knowing the rules and knowing what to look for around big trucks is an important part of road safety.

Scott Felthousen, a professional truck driver with more than a decade of driving under his belt, has put together a useful guide to safe driving around semis. While his tips are aimed at keeping teen drivers safe, the advice he dispenses is applicable to everyone.

In short, he advises:

  • Be aware of blind spots. Don’t assume the truck driver is regularly checking her mirrors.
  • Don’t linger. The safest place to be is as far from the truck as reasonable. If traffic allows, slow down or speed up to avoid driving in the trucker’s blind spot right next to the trailer.
  • Before passing a semi, check your rear-view mirror. Can you see both of the truck’s headlights in the center of your mirror? When you see those there, that’s the minimum distance you need to safely move ahead.
  • Give 18-wheelers the space they need. When encountering a big truck at an intersection, remember that truck needs a whole bunch of space to safely turn. A big rig turning onto a two-lane street is always going to need more space than the lane can accommodate.

Thinking ahead and being aware of your surroundings is a key part of safe driving for everyone,not just new drivers. Recognizing situations before they become dangerous and taking the right steps to prevent them from happening is a learned skill that new drivers should start practicing from the moment they grip the steering wheel.

The Odds of Dying: Perceived risk vs reality

June is National Safety Month sponsored by the National Safety Council. It’s a time to think about reducing leading causes of injury and death at the workplace, in our homes and in our communities. They’ve issued an interesting infographic on the Odds of Dying, noting that Americans often worry about the wrong things – check out the events we think will kill us vs. the ones that actually do, according to the numbers. (You can click for a bigger version).

If you’d like more detail on your personal odds, we have a prior post with a variety of mortality calculators to help you assess your own personal odds for longevity. They include life expectancy tables and a few interactive calculators. We leave you with two words: Life Insurance!


It’s Poison Prevention Month: Take the “Pill or Candy” Challenge

Even seemingly innocuous over the counter medication can be harmful to a child – test your own ability to spot the difference in this Pills or Candy interactive quiz — and if you pass Level 1, move on to Levels 2 and 3.
The point of the game is to raise awarness about how attractive medications can appear to toddlers. March is Poison Prevention Month, which has a goal of raising awareness of the dangers lurking in our homes. More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines or household products while parents or caregivers were not looking. 90% of poison incidents happen at home in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and laundry rooms; more than half of all incidents happen to kids under the age of 6.
Here are some household items to watch out for:

  • Medications, including over the counter drugs that seem innocuous
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Bug sprays and pesticides
  • Paint and household maintenance items
  • Antifreeze and auto supplies
  • Batteries – especially the tiny easy-to-swallow button batteries
  • Single load laundry packets – colorful, soft, attractive
  • Cosmetics and perfumes
  • Arts, crafts & school supplies
  • Alcohol

The Label It Foundation reminds us that poisonings can happen to people of all ages – they offer a sheet that breaks down age groups and the most common types of accidental poisons for that age group.
Keep the Poison Control Emergency Number in a handy place in your home and on your smartphone For a poison emergency in the U.S. call 1-800-222-1222
Here are some resources. If you have kids, these will help you keep you do a home audit to ensure your kids are safe. Even if you don’t have kids, why not help spread awareness by posting infographics, fact sheets or games on your Facebook and Twitter pages?
Poison Prevention Fact Sheets
American Association of Poison Control Centers
Up and Away Campaign
Apps for Poison Control and Drug Reference
Poisons In Your Home Infographic
Kids Act So Fast – So do poisons Infographic

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Picks for 2012 Autos

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced its Top Vehicle Safety Picks for 2012. There are 18 new picks for a total of 115 winners in the following categories: 69 cars, 38 SUVs, 5 minivans, and 3 pickups. The award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on ratings in Institute evaluations. The ratings, which cover all 4 of the most common kinds of crashes, help shoppers pick vehicles that offer the highest levels of crash protection.
Here’s a handy list of the 2012 Top Safety Picks with links to the ratings.
If you will be shopping for a new vehicle, you may also want to consult this list: Insurance Losses by Make & Model. And you will also want to talk to your local insurance agent.

Silent Running: Hybrid Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has weighed in on the safety risks of driving hybrid and electric vehicles. Their conclusion was that hybrid and electric vehicles are more hazardous to pedestrians and cyclists. Electric engines are near silent compared to combustion engines and don’t give the same audible warning as previous cars, especially when traveling at low speeds. Children and the visually impaired are often cited as being the most at risk, and the low noise engines are reported to be putting many pedestrians at higher risk of an automobile collision.
Although new technologies can usher in new risks, moving vehicles have always posed dangers to pedestrians. In 1899, Henry Bliss was run over by an electric cab, giving him the dubious distinction of being the first US auto fatality. But in the same era, horse drawn carriages were taking quite a toll: In New York in1900, 200 pedestrians were killed by horse drawn carriages.
Car manufacturers are reacting to the new threat by adding artificial sounds to hybrid vehicles to warn pedestrians. The Nissan Leaf EV now makes “wooshing” sounds despite its near silent engine, and Ford held a Facebook poll for users to vote on which artificial engine noise their new car should make, having posted a series of potential noises on YouTube. The noises ranged from more traditional engine sounds to futuristic spaceship noises. These fake engine noises are still being rolled out so they may not stick around since reactions appear to be mixed.
While the ostensible danger of silent vehicles is to pedestrians, drivers can also be at risk of not hearing a hybrid, increasing the potential for collisions. Plus, responsible drivers need to be hyper vigilant about the safety implications for pedestrians. Striking a pedestrian is a highly traumatic event that can result in injury or death. Depending on fault, it can also result in criminal charges or lawsuits. The liability portion of your auto insurance offers some financial protection should you strike a pedestrian. According to the Insurance Information Institute, liability insurance is compulsory in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Only New Hampshire does not have a compulsory auto insurance liability law. The chart on this page offers a breakdown of minimal liability limits for auto insurance by state.
If you live in New England and have questions about your auto insurance coverage, why not connect with a Renaissance Alliance insurance agent near you?