Being a smart and safe driver to protect yourself, passengers and pedestrians. Read the following tips to learn more ways to prevent danger on the road.
Car safety tips:
Make sure all passengers are seated and in a fastened seatbelt, especially your children. Any distractions can easily sidetrack you from concentrating on driving safely.
Using cell phones, texting or calls, can take your focus away from the road. Wait till you reach your destination to use your cell phone.
Avoid driving when you're tired or exhausted. Be aware that some medications, prescribed or over-the-counter, can cause drowsiness and make operating a vehicle very dangerous.
Use caution when driving in moving traffic. Make sure to use your signals and be aware of other vehicles on the road.
If you wear prescriptive lenses, make sure to never drive without them. This could lead to a violation, or worse an accident.
Driving in severe weather conditions can be dangerous. What's different about driving in winter conditions?
Make sure to always buckle up. Basic car safety encourages the use of seat belts and car seats at all times. Make sure to follow seat belt guidelines, may vary by state.
Winter can bring snow, freezing rain and wet conditions, which make driving conditions dangerous. During these winter conditions use extra caution in areas that freeze quickly to form ice, especially intersections, shaded areas, overpasses and bridges.
Winter weather can be unpredictable. Make sure to listen to your radio or watch T.V. for any weather updates in your area.
Keep an emergency kit in the trunk, including a first-aid kit and jumper cables.
Driving under the influence
It's a simple but important fact: drinking and driving is dangerous and can kill people on the road. Driving after drinking alcohol is known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
The United States has set .08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence. For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04% can result in a DUI conviction anywhere in the country. For those under 21, there is a zero tolerance limit and any amount of alcohol is grounds for a potential DUI arrest.
A DUI arrest can lead to spending time in jail, having your driver's license suspended or revoked, and fines. If you are responsible for an accident while you are driving impaired, the consequences are very severe.
What should I do if I'm in a car accident?
If you're involved in an accident, first make sure you and everyone in your car is not injured. Next, check on the passengers in the other car; or, if necessary, make sure that no pedestrians are injured.
Five things to do if you're in a car accident:
Six things that will keep you safe and help you avoid a ticket:
- Stay at the scene of the accident. Leaving can result in additional violations or fines.
- Call 911 or the police as soon as possible. They will dispatch medical personnel and a police officer immediately to the scene of the accident. Wait for the police to complete an accident report.
- If you're on a busy highway, stay inside the car and wait for the police or an ambulance. It's too dangerous to stand along a busy street.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. If possible, also get the name and phone numbers of witnesses and passengers.
- Contact your insurance provider to report the claim. Your agent will may ask you to send any paperwork you receive regarding the accident and will give you further instructions.
- Basic car safety encourages you to obey the posted speed limit at all times. Speeding violations are costly, and penalties for speeding can include fees, court appearances and loss or suspension of your driving license and privileges. Also, depending on your auto insurance policy, speeding tickets and traffic violations can impact your rates.
- Pay attention to pedestrian signs. Never pass a stopped bus displaying a stop sign to its left; that's a signal that children are crossing the street.
- If you hear a siren coming behind you, that's an indication that a police, ambulance or fire truck is speeding by you, toward an emergency. If it's safe, pull to the side, stop and wait until the vehicles pass.
- Horn honking is reserved for emergencies. Refrain from using the horn for non-emergency situations.
- Make a stop at stop signs. Always look for other drivers and pedestrians before you cross the intersection.
- Be cautious when parking your car. Be aware of tow away zones or handicapped signs, because these areas are reserved for vehicles with special permits. Also, certain streets may have parking restrictions, and failing to follow instructions may result in a parking violation or fine.
- Be sure to always destroy documents with credit card or personal information on them
- Be careful with your checks. Consider tactics to make it more difficult for someone else to forge your signature. Such as: using just your first initial(s) and last name in lieu of your full name.
- Secure your mail. Get a locking mailbox, and always take outgoing mail to a public drop-box. When you are traveling or away from home, have the post office hold your mail.
- Protect your Social Security Number. Do not carry your Social Security card with you, and be sure to remove the number from all insurance cards
- Be aware of your credit. Take advantage of websites such as annualcreditreport.com. Be sure to check your credit at least once per year
- Check your credit card statements. Confirm your charges are for the correct amount and location
- Clean out your wallet regularly. Don't keep old receipts or more multiple credit cards in your wallet. Make a copy of all your debit and credit cards to keep on file. You can also write "Ask for ID" on the back of your all of your credit cards so that anyone who uses the card will be asked to show their identification
- Choose passwords very wisely. Try to use a combination of numbers, lower and upper case letters and other characters to make it more difficult for an individual to hack your account
- Protect your passwords. Please try to refrain from writing down the password so no one will find it. Don't allow your browser to auto-fill passwords since these can be easily stolen. Be creative when creating a password.
- Beware of phonies. Phishing is when would-be identity thieves use a phony e-mail and/or web site to fool you into providing your credit card number, password or other information. Don't respond to these e-mails. Reputable companies won't ask for your information in this way
- Always be aware of your surroundings. ID thieves can write your numbers down quickly if you leave your card out while completing a purchase. With new technology and devices they have easy access to photographing or recording your information, without you noticing.
- Shop online with caution. Be sure you're using a secure site before entering credit card information on the Web. Use site addresses that begin with https rather than just http, and make sure you can find the locked padlock in your browser window
- Use anti-virus software always. Ensure that you are always running the most up-to-date anti-virus program on your computer
- Keep your PC clean. Use one of the powerful free spyware removers to make sure that no one is "looking over your shoulder"
- Don't respond to phony phone calls. Don't provide unknown callers with personal information
- Protect your computer files and e-mail accounts. Use a firewall when connecting to the Internet, and use all of the security features provided through your network. Don't send sensitive information via e-mail
It's essential to have a life insurance review to ensure that your needs are met through all of your life stages.
When purchasing a life insurance policy, it's important to choose the right amount of coverage. You don't want to pay for coverage that isn't needed, but you also don't want to leave your loved ones at risk.
Determining your life insurance needs
What kind and how much insurance coverage do I need?
There are two standard tactics to calculate how much life insurance you will require.
The lump sum need tactic calculates the total spending needed to pay for:
When you are determining your family's future financial needs, you don't have to provide 100 percent of the income that will be needed. For instance, if you are planning to provide $100,000 for your child's college tuition in 15 years, you don't need $100,000 now — you need an amount that will grow to $100,000 by the time college starts.
- Household expenses
- Emergency needs
- Outstanding debts
- Funeral expenses
The income replacement method calculates the amount needed to replace a percentage of your income for a specific number of years, usually until your youngest child is out of college.
Calculating future economic needs
Your investment or life insurance professional can help you determine the right amount to buy to account for the time value of money.
Curb ‘Smash-and-Grab’ Theft
Park your car at the trailhead for a couple of hours as you go hiking, and leave your CDs and cash so in plain sight in your console. Go try that new Chinese restaurant without your cell phone, which is calling out a full-bar "Take me" signal from your dashboard. Here are a couple of situations where you likely will be victim to have your things stolen.
Not only will you likely have things taken, but you'll also end up spending money on the auto-glass repairman and spend months pulling out stray glass pieces from the interior of your car.
Though you can't prevent "smash-and-grab" thieves completely, you can take some easy actions to decrease the changes you'll be a victim to this irritating and expensive type of theft.
Don't give them your keys
Remember that if you have a perfect hiding place for a key — such as under your seat or tucked in your sun visor — a thief has thought of that as well. A pair of keys in the ignition or left on the dashboard may tempt any thief.
Make them work for it
Think about it. The theft of small items from cars may yield the occasional bonanza (a wallet or laptop, for instance), but many thieves go for small items because of their inherent amusement value (your MP3 player or phone). What a thief wants is fun or a trickle of supplemental revenue for as little work as possible. By making your car a harder target for smash-and-grab theft, you make it less desirable.
Keep the mystery
While the trunk is better than the passenger compartment for laptops and shopping bags, an advanced thief will sometimes stake out a parking lot and watch you move your stuff. Transfer things before you get to your destination, and then you will be a step ahead of the game. So:
Don't make them comfortable
- Always close all of your windows and lock your car when you park.
- Turn on your security system if you have one.
- Consider tinting your windows (if it is allowed by local laws)
- Avoid utilizing the console or glove box as mobile lock boxes, since these are obvious to criminals, as well.
Most stealing is solitary work. The last thing thieves want is a group of gawkers with cell phones and pepper spray readily aimed. So try to keep your car conspicuous:
- Park in a well-lit area or near a lamppost, if there's a likelihood you'll be away from your car after dark.
- Park near to pedestrian and vehicle traffic, such as busy parking lots and ones with designated spaces
- Choose a lot with an attendant instead of one without.
Witness suspicious behavior? Always trust your instincts: Don't park where you don't feel safe. And don't confront individuals on your own. If you're very worried, report your suspicions to the police or a parking attendant.
They don't want what they can't see
Smash-and-grab thief is not generally a criminal genius. Most are just casual opportunists, wondering empty parking lots without a plan or just acting on an impulse. They spot your stuff, they smash your windows, and they grab what they want. And then they run or sneak away. So either take your valuables with you or hide them in your car. Here are items no to leave lying on the seat, dashboard or floor:
- Wallets or purses
- Loose change, cash and CDs
- Backpacks, briefcases and laptop cases
- Shopping bags
- Cell phones, MP3 players and all small electronics
During the holiday season, car thieves and other burglars are roaming the shopping center premises looking for an easy target.
Don't be the easy target. Instead, learn more about important holiday shopping safety. Read our tips below to better prepare yourself during the holiday shopping season.
Plan your shopping trip ahead.
"As in any situation, preparation is key," says Officer Roger D. Martin of the Beachwood Police Department in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. "You never know what can happen, and taking some time up front to prepare can help prevent you from becoming the victim of a car burglary or another crime."
Last minute trips to the mall can often result in a lack of focus. Distracted shoppers are often unaware of their surroundings and possible dangerous situations. During the holiday season, shop during daylight hours and park in a well-lit, highly populated area parking lot. If possible, go with a friend to ensure your personal safety.
Don't tempt car burglars.
Small and easy to conceal, are the items most frequently stolen from a car. Cell phones, MP3 players, GPS systems, satellite radios and other small valuable electronic devices are a burglar's dream. Leaving these valuables visible in your vehicle can attract a car burglar.
If you must leave any valuable items in your car, keep them out of sight. Place your valuables in the trunk, hide them under a seat or cover them securely with a blanket. Once you have hidden your valuables, make sure to always lock your car, close the windows and shut your sunroof, too.
Report any activity that seems suspicious.
"Nothing says you have to be confronted to be suspicious," says Martin. "If something you see or hear makes you feel uncomfortable or suspicious, it's probably because it should."
Depending on the level of suspicion, Martin recommends calling mall security or your local police station if you notice any suspicious activity.
"Time is of the essence," says Martin. "If you need immediate response, or anticipate personal safety could be a legitimate concern, call 911 immediately. And never, ever attempt to investigate a suspicious activity on your own."
Reporting any suspicious activity to your mall security can help prevent potential crime. Mall security is there to promote a safe environment, and can help during a threatening situation. Knowing all security options, mall security and police, contact information can help prepare you during the holiday shopping season.
Invest in an anti-theft device.
Martin also recommends investing in an anti-theft device. A car alarm can help protect you from a car burglary, and possibly qualify you for a car-insurance discount. Steering-wheel-locking products like The Club® can help protect your vehicle and belongings.
Equally feared and intriguing for their reckless power, tornadoes are the object of much discussion. More than one thousand tornadoes spiral across American soil every year, obliterating shopping malls and RV parks while perversely jumping over abandoned gas stations and leaving untouched one random house in the middle of a destroyed block. There is one thing that is certain: You don't want to be wondering how to save yourself when the radio's issuing warnings and a sound like a freight train rises in the distance. Here's a brief guide on how to prepare for and react to a tornado and we also address some common tornado myths.
Steps that might save your life
Get moving. At the first warning of a tornado near you, or if you hear a sound like a freight train or spot whirling cloud in the sky, jump into action. Consider yearly tornado drills for your family. Every moment counts.
If outside, get down low to the ground and stay there. If you see a stable building in close proximity, head into the basement. If that isn't an option, find a ditch or low area and lie face down. If there isn't a low-lying area near, get away from trees, lie flat on the ground with your face down and protect the back of your head with your arms. Whatever you do, get away from your car, since it may become a wind-hurled projectile.
If in a public place, follow the drill. If you don't know the plan and no one's in charge, get away from windows, get low and cover up.
If at home, get to a safe area immediately. Your safe area should be low to the ground, such as in the basement and away from any windows or glass. Get under your staircase or a stable table, and cover up yourself with a sleeping bag, a mattress, blankets or anything that offers protection from haphazard debris. If you don't have one a basement (or can't get to one) go to a small room, such as a bathroom, hallway or closet — near the center of the lowest floor and stay there. Crouch down and cover your head.
Have a storm package that includes: three gallons of water for each person, first aid items, a flashlight, a radio and extra batteries. Keep this in your house's safe area (described below).
Stay informed. Tune into local TV, radio or NOAA Weather Radio and listen for warnings. If possible, keep a radio or TV in your shelter area so you'll know what's going on outside your safe area.
For more information on tornadoes and tornado safety, visit the NOAA Storm Prediction Center site. Or read the American Red Cross recommendations.
Myths that put you in danger or waste your precious time
Don't park underneath an overpass. Not only are they not a good shelter, past experience shows they can be more caustic than just being in an open area. This is because the overpass can create a "wind tunnel" effect, which drive debris underneath the pass or sucks you into the open ground. From the strength of the twister, the overpass could even fall and be destroyed. The safest idea is to get underneath a real shelter or crawl into a low area on the ground.
Don't automatically go to the southwest area of your safe room. Actually, most tornadoes approach from the southwest, and it's usually a better idea to be away from the approaching tornado.
Don't open all of your windows. While it's often believed that you'll keep your house from exploding due to air pressure, this has never been confirmed. You're more likely to be endangered by the broken glass than have your house explode.
Don't light candles or matches, especially after the storm has passed as gas lines may have ruptured.
Always use flashlights instead.
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