August is National Traffic Awareness Month

Safe driving habits. Commit to safe driving practices at the start of every trip. Unexpected dangers may come from inside your vehicle, an oncoming or nearby car, an inattentive pedestrian, a meandering animal, a road hazard, changing weather, and more. Be aware of your surroundings and ready to react.

  • Drive with focus. Keep eyes on the road, hands on the steering wheel, and concentrate on driving. Stay off the cell phone. Hands-free technology is still distracting. Pull off the road to call, text, eat, or drink.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots before turning, passing, or changing lanes. use blinkers to alert nearby cars of your intention.
  • Follow posted speed limits. Speeding impedes your ability to maintain control of the vehicle.
  • Leave adequate space between cars. Following too close contributes to read-end crashes and is especially dangerous in stop-and-go traffic.
  • Check the rearview mirror when applying brakes. You may need to take evasive action to avoid being rear-ended.
  • Buckle up. Insist all occupants wear seat belts. Secure children in approved car seats. Crate pets for travel. Seat belts prevent occupants from being tossed on impact with another vehicle, animal, or object.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or certain prescription medications.

Vehicle care. A properly maintained vehicle contributes to highway safety. Breaking down in high-traffic areas endangers all cars on the roadway.

  • Confirm that your car is in good working condition. Be sure the engine, headlights, brake lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, and horn work properly.
  • Check tires and replace those with worn treads.
  • Schedule preventive maintenance, including oil changes, fluid reservoir re-fills, tire rotation, and more.
  • Take care of safety recalls as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • If you must stop, pull completely off the roadway and activate emergency flashers to alert motorists.

Auto insurance. Even careful drivers sometimes have accidents. Individuals often turn to an insurance company for assistance with costly crash-related medical bills and vehicle damages. Adequate coverage must be in place before a loss occurs. Tips to avoid a coverage surprise follow.

  • A liability-only policy pays if you cause a crash and are legally responsible for another person's damages. Verify that policy limits are in line with your financial assets.
  • Coverage for damage to your vehicle is available by adding comprehensive and collision to the policy. Check deductibles and set aside money to pay your out-of-pocket obligation.
  • Un/underinsured motorist protection is bodily injury coverage that pays if you are in an accident with a driver without insurance or one with lower limits than your underinsured motorist coverage. UM and UIM do not pay for repairs to your vehicle.
  • Insurers offer a variety of optional coverages like towing, rental car reimbursement, uninsured motorist property damage, and more. Contact a local auto insurance agent for cost and coverage details.
  • Periodically review your auto policy declarations page to verify proper coverages, limits, and endorsement add-ons. Check for correct information on address, drivers, vehicles, etc. Put a current insurance identification card in the vehicle glove box.
  • Be familiar with the claim process and your duties after a crash. The policy outlines responsibilities following a loss, like reporting damage to the insurance company as soon as possible, providing a loss statement, cooperating in the claim investigation, and more.