Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Driver Alert: Washington's New "Emergency Zone Law" Increases Safety Zone for Emergency Vehicles

Drivers must slow down and move over for Emergency vehicles.
Washington state's "Emergency Zone Law", which takes effect on January 1st, is even more stringent than the existing "Move Over Law", which has been on the books since 2007.

The new law creates a 200-foot zone around stationary emergency vehicles that have their lights activated. This includes Medic One, fire engines, police cars, tow trucks and even Department of Transportation vehicles.

The reason for the increased safety zone is to protect first responders. Fines for speeding in these zones will double, and tickets for failing to slow down and move over will also double, from $124 to $248.

Currently, the "Move Over Law" requires motorists traveling on a road with at least two lanes in their direction to move over one lane from the shoulder when approaching an emergency vehicle with its lights activated. Drivers are also required by law to slow down and proceed with caution.

On roads with one lane in each direction, motorists must slow down and pass to the left of the emergency vehicle if it is safe to do. But, they must yield the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic before proceeding.

The new law has similar wording, but increases the safety zone in front and behind active emergency vehicles to 200 feet, and doubles the fine for failing to slow down or move over.

The increased safety zone was voted into law due to the injuries and fatalities suffered by emergency personnel by drivers who failed to yield or give a wide berth to emergency vehicles. Recently, a couple police officers responding to a disabled vehicle were injured when they had to jump off the road to avoid being hit by an inattentive driver. In another recent case, a tow truck driver was killed while tending to a disabled vehicle on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5.

Between April 2009 and December 2010, the "Move Over Law" has resulted in 2,940 drivers being warned by Washington State Patrol officers, with 592 tickets issued.

This law increases the safety zone around emergency vehicles, and is likely to result in more citations in an effort to reduce the injuries and fatalities suffered by police, medics and tow truck drivers while they're trying to do their job.

Please slow down and make sure you give these workers plenty of room when approaching them on the road. If not, you're looking at a hefty fine beginning January 1.

Sources: Washington State Patrol, Seattle Times

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Travel by Car Takes a Little Planning

With Christmas and New Year’s both falling on the weekend this year, the holiday season will be more of a challenge than usual. With airfares more expensive, and the security at airports at unprecedented levels of intimacy and aggravation, you might be set on getting to Grandma’s house by automobile this year.

With the price of gas fairly stable and plentiful, combined with the continued steep rise in airfare and lack of available flights, a road trip may be more attractive to many travelers this season.

But, if you are considering going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this year, here are some things to consider:

Pre-plan your route

Even with a GPS system, it’s good to have a backup plan, as road construction will not always show up on the GPS. Going online and checking the cities and states along your intended route for scheduled maintenance and delays will allow you to plan alternative routes ahead of time. An alternative route that might normally have taken an extra 45 minutes might be actually much faster if the major route has construction that narrows the roadway or even shuts it down periodically. If you don't have a GPS system, go to your local AAA office and pick up maps of the area. Getting lost can ruin even the most well-planned road trips.

Allow plenty of time

The most common reason why things go wrong is bad route planning. If you expect to get there without delays and average 60 miles an hour for the entire trip, you’re bound to be frustrated or upset. Even moderate expectations can be wrong when things such as snowfall, flat tires, road construction or heavy traffic slows you down. Don’t try to drive ‘straight through’ if the drive is going to be longer than eight or nine hours. Fatigue from driving too long puts you and your family at a higher risk of getting in an accident. Plan on stopping after a day of driving, and call for reservations before you leave on the trip. If you just arrive at your planned destination and try to find lodging, there may be no room at the inn, and you may be faced with either driving late into the night to other lodging, or settling for someplace that is either not very nice or very expensive. In either case, it isn’t a good start.

Consider when to leave and arrive

During your trip you will inevitably travel through some large cities. Plan your route pass through these areas to avoid rush hour driving, which will slow you down considerably and make the drive very stressful. Also, you don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere when it’s mealtime. If possible, drive through mid-size towns during that time so you can stop and have a good meal. It will be fun and relaxing, and you’ll be ready for more driving.

Stay hydrated while traveling

Drinking plenty of water keeps you alert and rested, and makes you a better driver. It will also help you avoid fatigue after you arrive. It may mean a few more bathroom stops, but a quick stop doesn’t make you lose much time, and will definitely make you feel better.

Keep the kids happy -- and busy -- during the trip

Letting the children know in advance how long the trip will take, and plot out some stopping points that they can look forward to during the drive. Let each one of them have a “car bag” that they can choose what to put in it. Suggest their favorite blankets or stuffed animals if they’re small, so they can have a familiar item to play or snuggle with. You may all be trapped in a car for the better part of the day, but if you try to keep it fun with little games like spotting license plate from other states, or finding the alphabet, in order, on highway signs or cars it will help break the monotony. Keep favorite snacks handy to keep them from getting hungry between meal stops, and point out interesting landmarks or points of interest along the way. Listen to music the entire family likes (if that’s possible), and invest in a portable DVD player for watching movies if your car doesn’t have one built in.

Traveling by car can be a great time for a family, or even a couple, to reconnect. The trip may take hours, and with everyone in the same ‘room’ for a change, conversations can take place that would not happen on an airplane with strangers present. Who knows, by the time you get to Grandma’s house, the entire family may be closer then ever!

All it takes is a little planning.

Sources:, and

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Are You Prepared If There's a Power Failure?

Cold, wintry weather is in the forecast, and in recent years these storms have consistently caused power failures, some of which have lasted more than a week. With our dependence on electricity at historic levels, this has caused hardship and even death to those who aren’t prepared.
Since almost every year brings some period of time without any power, it’s important for every family to prepare for inevitability of just such an occurrence. With a little bit of forethought and preparation, most people can weather the storm without any assistance. And, during a power outage, government and police assistance is in short supply, with most struggling with multiple emergencies. Rather than burden the already strained safety net, be stocked up and ready when the power goes out.

Be Prepared for the Cold and Darkness
  • • Make sure you have multiple flashlights with plenty of spare batteries.
  • • Have a battery-powered clock in the house to keep track of the time and as a wake-up alarm for work or school (if it is open).
  • • A battery-powered radio will allow you to keep in touch with weather forecasts and other important information that is being broadcast. It will also serve to entertain you with news or music during the long, dark wait.
  • • If you have a fireplace, store a rick of seasoned (dry) firewood
  • • Never operate generators, grills or other heat-producing appliances inside. They create carbon monoxide gas, which is poisonous and can be fatal.
  • • If you’re using a power generator, make sure you have the gas tank filled up, and a spare gas. Gas stations cannot pump gas without electricity.
  • • Wear multiple layers of warm clothing to help keep in body heat.
  • • Avoid downed power lines. Report a downed line immediately to your local utility. Touching one of these lines could result in electrocution.
  • • When sleeping, wear lots of clothes and multiple blankets or comforters.

The CDC recommends that you have a disaster supply kit, which contains enough water, dried and canned food, and emergency supplies (flashlights, batteries, first-aid supplies, medicine and a digital thermometer) to last at least three days.

Food Safety

If the power is out for more than a few hours, avoid opening the refrigerator door or freezer. This will keep the cold trapped inside, and prevent the food from warming up.

Check refrigerated items and throw away food that has a temperature higher than 40 degrees. Freezer food is safe for at least 48 hours, as long as the freezer doors are not opened.

The following resources provide additional information on preparing for emergencies and determining if your food is safe after a power outage:
  • Food Safety After a Power Outage, American Red Cross
 Provides tips on safely storing your food and a chart to help you determine if your food is still safe.
  • Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency, United States Department of Agriculture
 Fact sheet and FAQs on food and water safety including guidance on when to discard perishable foods.
  • Being Prepared, American Red Cross
 Comprehensive site on preparing for emergencies including power outages.
  • Food Safety Office, CDC
 Comprehensive food safety information.

Safe Drinking Water

Have plenty of bottled water on hand. When power goes out, water purification systems can be compromised. If you must use tap water, boil it first to kill off any harmful bacteria. Bringing water to a rolling boil for at least one minute will kill most organisms.

Emergency Shelters

If you must leave your house for any reason, the radio will let you know about community shelters in your area that are opened for people who aren’t prepared to stay at home without electricity. Shelters may start out without cots, chairs, blankets, food or water, so bring your own. Be aware that shelters have no privacy, and may not let you enter with your pets or any defensive weapons, such as pepper spray.

It's much better to be prepared, not burden the emergency services during the outage, and wait out the storm in your own home. It may seem like a hassle now, but when the time comes, you'll be thankful that you were ready.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Be Cautious When Driving in Fog

Now that the weather has turned wet and cold, drivers need to be more cautious then ever when traveling on roads and highways. Wet roadways, combined with the colder temperatures, means you could encounter heavy fog, and road surfaces will be more slippery, especially in shaded areas. Visibility goes down and gives drivers less time to respond to something in the road ahead. Fog can be the most visually limiting driving condition you face.

Tips for Driving in Fog:
• Take all fog-related weather warnings seriously. They are there for a reason!

• Turn off the radio and open your window a little to listen for car horns or engines. You may hear something before you see it.

• Turn on wipers, defroster and low-beam headlights. Never use high beams, as they only light up the fog and make seeing more difficult. Moisture in the air can accumulate quickly on the windshield, so adjust your windshield wiper speed and defroster fan as needed.

• Slow down! Pay close attention to the road ahead, increasing the distance between you and the car in front of you from two to five seconds. In case they have to slam on the brakes, you want to avoid a collision. It doesn’t matter what the posted speed limit is, slow it down and be ready to stop at a moment’s notice.

• Use your fog lights. If you have fog lights, use them. They help with site distance, since they're mounted lower and illuminate more of the road surface. Yellow fog lights work better than white fog lights, as they don't reflect off the fog as brightly.

If it gets too foggy and conditions are too dangerous, it’s best to stop at a rest area or exit the road and go to a protected area. If there is no exit readily available, pull safely off to the right side of the road and turn your emergency flashers on. Once conditions improve, then continue cautiously on your way.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Uninsured/Underinsured Insurance Coverage

Washington's insurance laws make Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage an excellent bargain and an important benefit that can save you from a financial disaster if you are involved in a traffic accident.

All states, except New Hampshire, require liability insurance as part of your auto insurance coverage. It is considered good policy, because if you cause an accident, the person you hit should be able to recoup their expenses from you.

But the high cost of auto insurance forces some drivers to forego even basic liability coverage. They're out there driving, and have no means to pay for any damage they would do to your vehicle! The Insurance Research Council estimates that about one out of every six drivers is driving without any insurance coverage. That's 16 percent of the U.S. population!

Protect Yourself From Irresponsible Drivers

This is where UM/UIM coverage can really help. This coverage pays for your injuries when someone without insurance causes the accident or when you're hit by a hit-and-run driver. UM/UIM coverage also pays off when someone else causes the accident, but doesn't have ENOUGH insurance to cover your costs. UM/UIM will also help if you're injured and forced to miss work by paying your lost wages.

If you are in an accident which is cause by an uninsured motorist and you don't have UM/UIM coverage, your health insurance will generally pay for your medical bills related to that accident. That can be very expensive, however. If you have UM/UIM coverage, it will pay for the medical expenses until your limits are reached, then your health insurance will kick in to cover the amount over that.

But health insurance won't pay a dime for lost wages if you're injured and miss work, or for pain and suffering from the crash. That is paid by the at-fault driver's liability insurance, but if he or she doesn't have any liability coverage or it is insufficient, you're out of luck unless you go to court and try to recover the costs. However, if you have UM/UIM coverage, it will reimburse you for the lost wages and any pain and suffering that is caused by the accident.

Save on Deductibles

As in all auto insurance policies, there are deductibles.  If you obtain the at-fault driver's information, your deductible would be $100. Then your insurance company can go after them for reimbursement of damages. In addition, if they can recover the full amount of what they paid out to you for fixing your car, then they will give you your $100 back. If, however, you are involved in a hit-and-run, or a "phantom" type vehicle collision and there's no driver to go after, then the deductible is $300. This is another benefit of UM/UIM coverage, since a regular collision deductible is at least $500.

'Stacked' Coverage in Washington

What makes Washington an even better place to have UM/UIM coverage than, say, Oregon, is that the customer gets the coverage they pay for. For instance, if a Washington citizen buys $100,000 of UM/UIM coverage, they get up to an additional $100,000 of insurance benefits, above and beyond whatever amount of coverage the at-fault driver may have. This is called "stacking" -- the UM/UIM policy "stacks" on top of the at-fault driver's coverage. In other states, such as Oregon, if someone buys $100,000 of UM/UIM coverage, they may not get some or all of that coverage if they are hit by another driver. It depends on the amount of insurance carried by the at-fault driver. For example, if the at-fault driver carried $25,000 of liability coverage, the Oregon $100,000 UM/UIM policy would only pay a maximum of $75,000. If the negligent driver had $100,000 worth of coverage, the Oregon UM/UIM policy would pay nothing. That policy in Washington would pay up to an additional $100,000, or $200,000 total!

Regardless of what state you're in, UM/UIM insurance is very important. It protects you and your family from huge medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering costs if you are involved in an accident caused by a negligent driver. And for less than a dollar a day, it is an incredible bargain! Without it, you're either at the mercy of the other driver's coverage or looking for a lawyer and a lawsuit. Which would you rather have?

For more information on Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, please contact us toll-free at 888-867-2866, or contact your SAV-ON Insurance agent.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Permanent Life Insurance Growing in Popularity Among Middle Class Consumers

One in Four Likely to Purchase It in the Near Future

As the economic downturn rolls into its third year, middle-class consumers are showing a growing interest in managing financial risk through the use of permanent life insurance products.
The August survey of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 39 percent of middle-class Americans own some form of permanent life insurance coverage. And among those who don’t own a permanent life policy, one in four say they are likely to purchase this type of coverage in the future.

“After years of following the popular pitch to ‘buy term and invest the difference,’ consumers are now seeing how a market downturn can threaten a seemingly sound financial strategy,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “These numbers support findings by others in the industry who note that Americans are turning to permanent life coverage as a time-tested tool for managing long-term risk.”

The most popular permanent insurance product is whole life, which is owned by 26 percent of middle-class families. Other permanent life products held by survey respondents include universal life and variable life, which are owned by 10 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Term life insurance remains the go-to product for many consumers. Term policies are owned by 45 percent of middle-class families. Interestingly people who own term life policies feel less comfortable with their coverage than those who own whole life and other permanent products. The survey reveals a 5-point gap between those who feel “extremely” or “very” comfortable with their permanent life insurance coverage (49 percent) and those who feel the same way about their term life insurance coverage (44 percent). Also, consumer satisfaction levels are highest for whole life (60 percent), followed by term (55 percent), universal life (53 percent) and variable life (50 percent).

“We are not surprised to see that whole life is associated with high consumer satisfaction,” Spiker said. “This seemingly old-fashioned product remains popular because of its long-term value, flexibility and stability. The guarantees offered by these policies make it an especially appealing choice during the uncertainties of the current economic crisis.”

At SAV-ON Insurance Agencies, we have an experienced agent who is an expert in life insurance, whether it be term, permanent life or long-term care insurance. Call Steve today at 1-888-867-2866 and find out what's available for you!

Source: Business Wire

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eight Tips for a Safe Road Trip

Whether you're traveling alone, with a buddy or with your spouse and a car full of kids, there are few things more "American" than the long-distance road trip. Countless vacation travelers will drive the highways looking for fun and making memories with every mile. If traveling down the "holiday road" is in your plans, take the time to prepare for your trip. You'll have a more enjoyable vacation if you plan carefully. Here are a few driving tips:

1) Make sure your vehicle is well maintained.
Make sure your vehicle is up to date on its maintenance schedule, and be sure to check the battery and tires. A dead battery or tire blow-out in the middle of nowhere is dangerous and expensive. By making sure your tires have good tread left and are properly inflated, and your battery is fully charged, you'll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.

2) Plan your trip and know where you’re going.
Call ahead for proper and safe directions to get you to your destination safely and have maps of the area on hand to help you navigate once you are off the main road. You’re more likely to make good decisions, even in dangerous situations, if you’re clearheaded and know where you’re going.

3) Stay focused on the road ahead.
Seems obvious, but driver inattention is the cause of a lot of accidents. If you stay focused behind the wheel and not let kids or electronic devices such as music players or cell phones divert your attention, you will have a much safer summer road trip.

4) Take precaution with a cell phone.
Cell phones can be a lifesaver when you need immediate access to emergency services after an accident. Keep your phone within easy reach and get to know its features. However, use it prudently. Reports have shown that driving while talking on the phone increases accident rates.

5) Wear your seat belt.
Whether or not it’s required by law in the state through which you’re driving, always wear your seat belt as a safety precaution.

6) Protect your car against theft.
Help deter criminals from taking your car by always locking your doors, using steering wheel locks, switches that disable fuel or ignition systems, and electronic tracking devices. Put any valuables you cannot carry with you hidden out of view in the trunk.

7) Know what to do if you’re in an accident.
Taking immediate steps if you’ve been in an accident can protect your family and your car from further damage. Stop immediately and make sure your car is not blocking traffic. Turn off your car to keep it from overheating or catching fire. Warn oncoming cars using road flares or orange triangle reflectors. After you have protected yourself and your family, call your insurance company immediately.

8) Make sure your auto insurance is up to date.
Before you even leave the driveway, you want to be sure you’re protected when you’re on the road and far from home. An independent insurance agent or broker can provide the personal service and advice you need to travel in confidence.

Source: Progressive Insurance Company

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Move Over For All Emergency Vehicles

You’ve undoubtedly been driving when you hear the wail of the siren and see the flashing lights of an approaching emergency vehicle in your rear view mirror. Should you slow down and pull over, even if the emergency vehicle is in the oncoming lanes, or is it just required when it is attempting to pass you? Similarly, if you approach a stationary emergency vehicle on the side of the road with its lights flashing, what is the proper thing to do?

Many motorists don’t understand the “Move Over” law, and what they need to do. But it is important for safety reasons that motorists give all emergency vehicles a wide berth. The personnel in these vehicles, whether they are paramedics or police officers, are busy trying to help someone, and are not paying attention to the cars that are approaching.  It is the motorist’s responsibility to proceed on the side of caution.

Emergency Vehicles Approaching

When being approached by an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing, section 46.61.210 of the Revised Code of Washington states requires motorists to yield the right-of-way in all cases. It states that drivers “shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.”
When the roadway is a divided highway, a motorist who is moving in the opposite direction can continue on, but if the road is not divided, even if it has more than one lane in each direction, the driver is required to stop the vehicle on the right-hand edge or curb until the emergency vehicle has passed. Failure to yield carries a maximum fine of $1,062 in the State of Washington.

Stationary Emergency Vehicles

On the other hand, when a motorist is approaching a stationary emergency or police vehicle with its lights flashing, the motorist must yield to the emergency vehicles by:
- Proceeding with caution
- Changing lanes, if possible
- Reducing speed
    Conversely, if an emergency vehicle is parked by the side of the road, or traveling down the highway with no lights flashing, they are treated as any other vehicle, and it is not necessary to yield to them.

    The bottom line: It’s always better proceed with caution when police and emergency vehicles are within sight. It avoids potential collisions and allows law enforcement and emergency personnel to do their job without worrying about the traffic.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Be Careful When Sharing the Road with Cyclists

    A recently released poll of Washington drivers found that many are uncomfortable sharing the road with cyclists. While the PEMCO Insurance poll found 87% of respondents understand that cyclists can be ticketed for violating the same laws that govern drivers, only 45% thought the laws were generally fair for both drivers and cyclists.

    In 2007, 58% of drivers knew they had to give cyclists several feet of room when passing them on the road. Compare that to 2010, where only 40% now think they need to provide that much space.
    The Revised Code of Washington may be vague about distance (they mandate drivers pass cyclists at a "safe distance"), however the Washington Driving Guide recommends at least three feet of space between the vehicle and the cyclist.

    Driver Misconceptions

    The poll found that drivers have many misconceptions when it comes to sharing the road with bicycles. This can lead to dangerous situations, as many drivers think it's the cyclist's responsibility to stay out of the way of motorized vehicles, or use the sidewalk. This is not the case, as bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on roadways as automobiles (although they are not allowed on freeways and other controlled-access highways).

    The PEMCO poll also found that:

    • Only 23% of drivers are aware that it's legal for cyclists to ride two abreast in a lane of traffic.
    • 62% of drivers are aware it's illegal for bicycle riders to ride in lanes used by oncoming traffic.
    • 54% of drivers thought that a cyclist could get ticketed for riding on a sidewalk. (Washington law allows cyclists to use most sidewalks for riding).

    Bike Helmets Prevent Injuries

    Even though there's no statewide requirement to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, most Washington cities and counties have helmet laws, and enforce them rigorously. The PEMCO poll found that more than a quarter of the respondents (27%) think it's legal to ride without at helmet.

    Men are more likely than women to wear their helmet, and use their bike regularly to commute. Women drivers, on the other hand, tend to be more uncomfortable with cyclists on the road, the poll found.

    More disturbing is the fact that young people -- those under age 35 -- are much more likely to bike without a helmet than their older counterparts. 36% of those under 35 say they only wear their helmets sometimes or never, compared with 17% of older cyclists. This is exacerbated by the fact that 48% of younger cyclists use their bike to commute at least once a month, much of the time without a helmet.

    While wearing a helmet can eliminate most serious head injuries, many cyclists don't like to wear them or forget to wear them. It's especially difficult to convince younger people that riding without a helmet can result in serious injury, as many young people think that it's more of a hassle then it's worth, and, after all, nothing is going to happen to them.

    If you get on a bike, wear your helmet and obey all traffic laws. When it comes to accidents involving a car and a bicycle, the bicyclist rarely comes out ahead.

    Source: PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, 2010

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Older Drivers can improve and save money too

    PDF (248K)

    Spanish Version

    Older Drivers

    At age 78, Sheila thinks she’s a good driver, and she would like to stay that way. But lately, she has been in minor accidents. Sheila wonders how she can stay safe behind the wheel. Will taking a class for older drivers help?

    You may have asked yourself this question, or maybe a family member or friend has asked about your driving. Getting older doesn’t make you a bad driver. But you should know there are changes that may affect driving skills over time.

    Your Body

    As you age, your joints may get stiff, and your muscles may weaken. This can make it harder to turn your head to look back, turn the steering wheel quickly, or brake safely.

    What you can do:

    •See your doctor if you think that pain or stiffness gets in the way of your driving.

    •If possible, drive a car with automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and large mirrors.

    •Be physically active or exercise to keep and even improve your strength and flexibility.

    Your Vision

    Your eyesight may change as you get older. At night, you may have trouble seeing things clearly. Glare can also be a problem—from oncoming headlights, street lights, or the sun. It might be harder to see people, things, and movements outside your direct line of sight. It may take you longer to read street or traffic signs or even recognize familiar places. Eye diseases, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as some medicines, may also change your vision.

    What you can do:

    •Have your vision checked every 2 to 4 years if you are age 40 to 64 and every 1 to 2 years if you are 65 or older, as recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. There are many vision problems your doctor can treat.

    •Talk to your eye doctor if you can’t see well enough to drive because you have a cataract. You might need surgery to remove the cataract.

    •If you need glasses to see far away while driving, make sure your prescription is correct. And always wear them when you are driving.

    •Cut back on night driving if you are having trouble seeing in the dark.

    Your Hearing

    Your hearing may change, making it harder to notice horns, sirens, or noises from your own car. That can be a problem because these sounds warn you when you may need to pull over or get out of the way. It is important that you hear them.

    What you can do:

    •Have your hearing checked. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends doing this every 3 years after age 50. Your doctor can treat some hearing problems.

    •Get a hearing aid to help—don’t forget to use it when you drive.

    •Try to keep the inside of the car as quiet as possible while driving.

    •Pay attention to the warning lights on the dashboard. They may let you know when something is wrong with your car.

    Your Reactions

    In order to drive safely, you should be able to react quickly to other cars and people on the road. You need to be able to make decisions and to remember what to do. Being able to make quick decisions while driving is important so you can avoid accidents and stay safe. Changes over time might slow how fast you react. You may find that your reflexes are getting slower. Stiff joints or weak muscles can make it harder to move quickly. Your attention span may be shorter. Or, it might be harder for you to do two things at the same time.

    What you can do:

    •Leave more space between you and the car in front of you.

    •Start braking early when you need to stop.

    •Avoid high traffic areas when you can.

    •If you must drive on a fast-moving highway, drive in the right-hand lane. Traffic moves more slowly there. This might give you more time to make safe driving decisions.

    •Take a defensive driving course. AARP, American Automobile Association (AAA), or your car insurance company can help you find a class near you.

    •Be aware of how your body and mind might be changing, and talk to your doctor about any concerns.

    Your Health

    Some health problems can make it harder for people of any age to drive safely. But other conditions that are more common as you get older can also make driving difficult. For example, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and arthritis can interfere with your driving abilities. At some point, someone with health problems may feel that he or she is no longer a good driver and may decide to stop driving.

    People with illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or other types of dementia may forget how to drive safely. They also may forget how to find a familiar place like the grocery store or even home. In the early stages of AD, some people are able to keep driving safely for a while. But, as memory and decision-making skills worsen, driving will be affected. If you have dementia, you might not be able to tell that you are having driving problems. Family and friends may give you feedback about your driving. Doctors can help you decide whether it’s safe to keep driving.

    What you can do:

    •Tell a family member or your doctor if you become confused while driving.

    Your Medications

    Do you take any medicines that make you feel drowsy, lightheaded, or less alert than usual? Medications can have side effects. People tend to take more medicines as they age, so pay attention to how these drugs may affect your driving.

    What you can do:

    •Read the medicine labels carefully, and pay attention to any warnings.

    •Make a list of all your medicines, and talk to a doctor or pharmacist about how they may affect your driving.

    •Don’t drive if you feel lightheaded or drowsy.

    Are You A Safe Driver?

    Maybe you already know that driving at night, on the highway, or in bad weather is a problem for you. Older drivers can also have problems when yielding the right of way, turning (especially making left turns), changing lanes, passing, and using expressway ramps.

    What you can do:

    •When in doubt, don’t go out. Bad weather like rain or snow can make it hard for anyone to drive. Try to wait until the weather is better, or use buses, taxis, or other transportation services available in your community.

    •Look for different routes that can help you avoid places where driving can be a problem. Left turns can be quite dangerous because you have to check so many things at the same time. You could plan routes to where you want to go so that you only need to make right turns.

    •Have your driving skills checked. There are driving programs and clinics that can test your driving and also make suggestions about improving your driving skills.

    •Update your driving skills by taking a driving refresher course. (Hint: Some car insurance companies may lower your bill when you pass this type of class.)

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Prescription 'Drugged Driving' a Growing Problem

    As Americans get hooked on more and more prescription drugs, then clamor behind the wheel of their automobiles while dazed or sleepy, more auto accidents can't be far behind.

    Turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or go online and you'll find the pharmaceutical industry is making a killing pushing pills. There are pills to wake you up, calm you down, get you excited, lower your blood pressure, ease your hypertension, and get you back to sleep again. While many of these prescription drugs do help with certain ailments, the side effects can be deadly when someone affected by these powerful drugs tries to drive. Many of these drugs cause a reduction in mental alertness and physical responsiveness, both of which are necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle.

    An accident caused by a drugged driver.
    Unlike drunk driving, which has definitive limits, and can measure blood alcohol levels, drugged driving has no limits to measure. If you're blood alcohol level is .008 or higher, you can be convicted of DUI, but there are no tests to determine improper levels of prescription drugs. There are so many different legal drugs legally prescribed, with each one having a different effect on the user, that it is very difficult to set legal limits. In addition, prescription drugs can linger in the system for days or even weeks, making it hard to determine when it is safe for the patient to return to the road.

    How commonplace is driving while drugged? According the the National Highway and Safety Administration's 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter medication.

    Lately more attention has been given to drugs other than alcohol, as law enforcement has begun to recognize the hazards it poses to traffic safety.

    What Makes Drugged Driving Hazardous?

    Drugs acting on the brain can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination, reaction time, and other faculties required for safe driving. The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on their mechanisms of action, the amount consumed, the history of the user, and other factors.

    Many medications (e.g., benzodiazepines and opiate analgesics) act on systems in the brain that could impair driving ability. In fact, many prescription drugs come with warnings against the operation of machinery -- including motor vehicles -- for a specified period of time after use. When prescription drugs are taken without medical supervision (i.e., when abused), impaired driving and other harmful reactions result.

    Enforcement Lacking

    Police and Highway Patrol personnel are trained to spot, test and arrest persons under the influence of alcohol, but people affected by prescription drugs are more difficult to prosecute. Breathalyzer tests will only show if the person has been drinking, even though the motorist's ability to drive is clearly compromised. With defense lawyers quick to point out that many of these drivers are taking legal medication, in proper doses that are prescribed by a doctor, police are reluctant to pursue punishment due to the ambiguity of the law.

    Canada Gets Tough

    Yet some countries are getting tougher. In 2008, Canada passed a drugged driving law which makes it illegal for drivers to drive under the influence of drugs, legal or not.

    Prior to this legislation, police were allowed to ask drivers for a urine, blood or saliva sample if they were suspected of being under the influence of drugs. However, officers had to inform drivers that they were not obligated to take the test.

    “There was no monitoring in place for us to make this demand at all,” said Toronto Police Sgt. Tim Burrows, “New ground has been broken.”

    Under this new legislation, drivers suspected of drug use are taken to traffic services and tested by a specially trained drug recognition expert. The test involves looking at indicators such as pupil size, blood pressure and the ability of the driver to multi-task. The final part of the test is a bodily fluid swab test.

    Those caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will face at least a $1,000 fine for a first offense, a minimum of 30 days in jail for a second offense and 120 days in jail if they are caught a third time.

    In the U.S., many states are starting to pass 'per se' laws, making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle if there is any detectable level of a prohibited drug, or its metabolites, in the driver's blood. Other state laws define "drugged driving" as driving when a drug "renders the driver incapable of driving safely" or "causes the driver to be impaired."

    But, persuading a jury to convict someone of drugged driving is difficult, as it doesn't have the stigma that drunken driving has, thanks to the efforts of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

    "Because most people on the jury will also likely be taking prescription drugs for some ailment," said Douglas Gansler, the attorney general in Maryland, "whether it's Lipitor or allergy pills or whatever it might be, they might think, 'I don't want that to become criminal.'"

    Sources:, The New York Times, National Highway and Safety Administration.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Red Light Cameras Help Reduce Traffic Accidents

    As more and more cities install cameras at busy intersections to catch drivers who run red lights, the debate rages as to how effective they are in reducing traffic accidents.

    How Do Red Light Cameras Work?

    Red light cameras are mounted at selected signalized intersections, and automatically photograph vehicles whose drivers run red lights. A red light camera system is connected to the traffic signal and to sensors that monitor traffic at the crosswalk or stop line. The camera is triggered by any vehicle entering the intersection above a preset minimum speed and following a specified time after the signal has turned red. Many red light camera programs provide motorists with grace periods up to 1/2 second, but it is up to each municipality to determine what grace period, if any, will be allowed. Cameras record the date, time of day, time elapsed since the beginning of the red signal, vehicle speed and license plate. Tickets are typically mailed to the registered owner, based on a review of the photographic evidence.

    Effective Accident Reduction

    Accident statistics support the contention that these cameras are effective in substantially reducing traffic accidents. Highway Safety Institute evaluations in Fairfax, Virginia and Oxnard, California, showed that camera enforcement reduced red-light-running violations by about 40 percent. In addition, this effectiveness carried over to other signalized intersections not equipped with red light cameras, indicating community-wide changes in driver behavior. An Institute evaluation of red light cameras in Philadelphia found that after red light violations were reduced by 36 percent following increased yellow signal timing, and the addition of red light cameras further reduced red light violations by 96 percent. In the Oxnard, Calif. study, injury crashes were reduced by 29 percent after red light cameras were in operation. Front-into-side collisions -- the crash type most closely associated with red light running -- were reduced by 32 percent overall, and front-to-side crashes resulting in injuries were reduced by 68 percent!

    Success Rates of Red Light Cameras

    New Orleans, LA -- Red light cameras led to an 85% drop in red light running and speed cameras led to an 84% drop in speeding.
    Council Bluffs, IA -- 90% reduction in red light running crashes.
    Washington, DC -- Red light running fatalities were reduced from 16 to 2 in the first two years of red light cameras.
    Fairfax, VA -- 44% reduction in red light running crashes.
    Oxnard, CA -- 22% reduction in red light crashes citywide.
    New York City -- 34% reduction in red light violations.

    Who is Responsible for the Ticket?

    Each state has its own set of rules determining who is responsible for running a red light. 25 states currently have red light camera enforcement, and each has its own set of rules and limitations. In Washington state, which is one of the states that does, it is the registered owner's responsibility, whether or not they were driving the car. A ticket for running a red light can mean up to a $250 maximum fine, but does not go on the violator's driving record. It is treated like a parking ticket.

    Red Light Cameras are Popular with the Public

    A 2002 nationwide survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and conducted by the Gallup Organization found that 75 percent of drivers favored the use of red light cameras. a 1996 survey by the Insurance Research Council found that the highest support for red light cameras was in large cities, where 83 percent of respondents supported their use. There are opponents of this kind of enforcement, but so far its legality has stood up in court challenges.

    References: Insurance Industry for Highway; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Wikipedia; National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Driving Drowsy is as Dangerous as Driving Drunk

    Nice summer weather and long days of sunshine mean putting the top down on the convertible and going out for nice long drives. It can also mean taking the family on a car vacation.

    But, before venturing out on the road, make sure you've had enough sleep. A recent poll found that 54 percent of Americans say they have driven drowsy at least once in the last year, while one quarter admit to doing so at least once a month. This can have very dangerous consequences.

    A National Sleep Foundation survey revealed that a full 37 percent of the drivers they polled had actually fallen asleep at the wheel!

    "Most people know the dangers of drinking and driving," says Troy Green of the American Automobile Association. "However, driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk."

    Like drugs or alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of an accident. However, it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness because there is no standardized test for drowsiness, like there is for intoxication. This lack of criteria for determining when a driver is too sleepy to drive may be one reason there is little or no police training in identifying drowsiness as a crash factor.

    How many highway crashes are attributable to drowsiness?

    Since police-reported crash data is unreliable due to the difficulty in detected fatigue or drowsiness, the accident reports tend to minimize the frequency of this. Based on police reports, about one percent of all crashes and about three percent of all fatal crashes are due to the driver falling asleep. The actual percentage is probably much higher, and some experts estimate that there are about 56,000 accidents involving a drowsy driver, and at least 1,500 deaths a year.

    What are the warning signs of fatigue?

    Failure to remember the last few miles driven; wandering or disconnected thoughts; difficulty focusing, keeping eyes open, keeping head up; drifting from lane; yawning repeatedly; tailgating or missing signs; jerking car back into the lane.

    How best to prevent drowsy driving

    Get a good night's sleep before heading out on a long car trip; don't drive alone; schedule regular stops; avoid alcohol or medications that impair performance.

    Experts also warn that old remedies such as opening a window or turning the music up in the car do not help a drowsy driver maintain alertness. It may temporarily wake them, but will not last more than a minute or two before drowsiness overcomes the mild stimulus.

    The best idea when fatigue sets in is to pull over to the side of the road and take a brief (20 to 30 minute) nap, and then drink coffee or a cola drink to provide short-term alertness. Getting there a few minutes later is better than not getting there at all!

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    AAA Commends Delaware as it Becomes the 30th State to Prohibit Text Messaging While Driving

    AAA is more than half way to the goal!

    AAA Commends Delaware as it Becomes the 30th State to Prohibit Text Messaging While Driving
    WASHINGTON, July 6 -- Nearly a dozen states have enacted texting while driving bans this year
    WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AAA applauds Delaware on becoming the 30th state to outlaw text messaging by all drivers. Governor Jack Markell signed the bill into law today, making Delaware the 11th state in 2010 to ban text messaging while driving. Last September, AAA launched its campaign to pass texting bans in all 50 states.

    "By passing a law banning texting while driving, Delaware continues the momentum in statehouses across the country in outlawing this dangerous form of driver distraction," said Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA president and CEO. "In the last two years alone, almost half of all states – 12 in 2009 and 11 this year – have enacted text messaging bans for all drivers. AAA is encouraged by the recent and rapid progress toward our campaign goal of passing texting bans in all 50 states.

    "Too many people are being injured and killed in vehicle crashes that are preventable. AAA will continue to educate the public about the mental and physical distraction associated with text messaging while driving and continue to advocate for texting bans in states without such laws."

    Delaware's new law also makes it illegal to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving. Delaware joins California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia in permitting drivers to talk on a cell phone only with a hands-free device.

    "AAA Mid-Atlantic congratulates the Delaware Legislature and Governor Markell on the passage of this new law to combat distracted driving, and we commend their efforts to improve highway safety in the state of Delaware," said Don Gagnon, AAA Mid-Atlantic president and CEO. "AAA Mid-Atlantic has long advocated for comprehensive distracted driving legislation and this is a major step forward in combating texting and other distracted driving in Delaware."

    Legislation to establish or improve an existing ban on text messaging while driving is currently being considered in the following states: California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

    The following states and the District of Columbia now prohibit text messaging by all drivers: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Delaware's law will become effective January 3, 2011. Delaware joins Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming in enacting text messaging bans for all drivers in 2010. The effective dates for those new laws are as follows:

    WASHINGTON, July 6 --

    Delaware – January 3, 2011

    Georgia – July 1, 2010

    Iowa – July 1, 2010; penalties effective July 1, 2011

    Kansas – Effective immediately when signed on May 24; warning citations to be issued until January 1, 2011

    Kentucky – Effective immediately when signed on April 15; penalties effective January 1, 2011

    Massachusetts – October 1, 2010

    Michigan – July 1, 2010

    Nebraska – July 15, 2010

    Vermont – Effective immediately when signed on June 1

    Wisconsin – December 1, 2010

    Wyoming – July 1, 2010

    Read more:

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    Tips for Saving Vacation Costs on the Road

    Now that the summer travel season is upon us, it's time to think about piling the kids in the car and heading for some warm weather fun. But, with the economy still down and gas prices up, you may be worried about your vacation budget. Here are some ways you can save money and still have a great time.

    Take some food and beverages with you. Put a cooler filled with water and other thirst-quenching beverages in the car with you. Bring some non-perishable snacks like granola bars or potato chips, too. That way everyone can keep hydrated and not hungry during the car ride. It saves you from a car full of grumpy passengers, cuts down on expensive restaurant meals, and allows you to reach your destination in less time.

    Stick to a budget. If you haven't saved up for the vacation, it's not a good idea to run up your credit cards while on the trip. It may not seem like it at the time, but when you're paying big credit card bills each month for the rest of the year and beyond, it might keep you from having enough for the next vacation. Decide how much you can afford to spend, then live within that limit. If that means one less amusement park for the family, you can spend a day at the beach or at a nice park. Variety is the spice of life!

    Save on gas. When you're travelling long distances by automobile, slow down a little. Even a small reduction in vehicle speed will mean rather substantial fuel savings. Driving 62 mph vs. 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption about 15 percent.

    Drive efficiently. Don't be a lead-foot, and keep a steady rate of speed. If traffic is light, and you have it, use cruise control. This reduces your gas consumption, and also makes it easier on the driver, who doesn't need to constantly use the gas pedal or the brake. Anticipate traffic ahead and give yourself distance between the car ahead of you, so you can slow down or speed up without using the brake as much, increasing your fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent.

    Have good tires. Keep tire pressure at the manufacturer's recommended level. Over- or under-inflated tires will reduce your gas mileage, and will wear out your tires much faster. A single tire, underinflated by 2 pounds per sq. inch, increases fuel consumption 1 percent. Worn tires are more prone to blow-outs or flats, causing delays on your trip.

    Use air conditioning sparingly. If it's not hot, roll down the windows or just have the fan on. Air conditioning is a drag on your engine and reduces fuel efficiency.

    Service your car before the trip. Regular maintenance helps fuel economy, and adds to engine life. Dirty fuel filters, air filters and low fluid levels can make your engine labor unnecessarily, and could mean breakdowns in remote, unfamiliar areas.

    Travel light. The heavier your car is weighted down, the more gas you will use. Pack as light as possible, and avoid dragging trailers behind your car if possible. This can reduce fuel efficiency by more than 25%.

    By doing a little pre-trip planning, you can avoid a lot of problems while on the road. Happy motoring!

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    New Cellphone Law May Not Reduce Accidents

    A new law went on the books that makes using a handheld cellphone a primary offense while driving. If you get a ticket, it won't become part of your driver's permanent record or be reported to your insurance company, but it's gonna cost you. The fine is $124 for texting or talking without a headset.

    If you're under 18, the law is even tougher. You can't use a cellphone at all, even with a hands-free device, while behind the wheel.

    There are some exemptions, such as transit and emergency vehicle personnel, tow truck operators and drivers with hearing aids. And if you're calling or texting to report illegal activity or summon emergency help, you will not be cited.

    With distracted drivers causing more and more accidents, legislators are trying to crack down on the distractions. But does this new law actually help make the roads safer? Surprisingly, lots of research says no. Many drivers have invested in expensive hands-free devices such as Bluetooth headsets, but many researchers are saying that the problem is not that your hands are busy, but that your mind is distracted when talking on the phone.

    "It's a 'feel-good law'. It makes people think we're trying to do something to address the problem," says professor David Strayer, of the University of Utah's psychology department.

    He has been involved with the research that shows that cellphone-using drivers can be just as impaired as drunken drivers. And he's not alone in that conclusion. Other research institutions, notably the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as well as a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that there is no difference in driver impairment between talking while holding the phone and a hands-free device.

    When driving and talking at the same time, the brain gets overloaded with processing information, and the chances for an accident in that situation are many times greater.

    So, before you go out and buy an expensive hands-free device, keep in mind the safest thing to do while driving is to keep both hands on the wheel and your mind focused on the road ahead.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    SAV-ON Records Third Straight Month of Incredible PEMCO Policy Sales

    For the third month in a row, SAV-ON Insurance is on a record-setting pace for selling PEMCO policies.
    After establishing a new record of 84 new policies in March, SAV-ON obliterated that total, writing 111 policies in April. Continuing that torrid pace, they wrote 85 policies in May, for a total of 280 policies in three months! (These counts include not only auto insurance, but all lines of business that PEMCO insures.)
    "We've been amazed at the number of PEMCO policies that SAV-ON has sold, and we hope they're able to continue this trend," said PEMCO Community Agent Supervisor Steve Milliren. "I can't say enough about the commitment, the loyalty, and the direction of the SAV-ON leaders, as well as the fantastic work done by their dedicated front-line staff. With their help, we're moving closer to meeting our customer growth goal."
    In appreciation of SAV-ON's exceptional work, PEMCO sent balloons and congratulations to all the SAV-ON offices. They also treated SAV-ON employees to a Sounders FC soccer game on June 10th in an executive suite at Qwest Field, complete with catered food and beverages. In addition, each SAV-ON Insurance office will get a PEMCO lunch at the restaurant of their choosing!
    How do they do it? With a focus on customer service, ongoing staff training and incentive programs to build customer referrals. Central to all this is the new "Client Care Center", which strives to contact customers nearing their renewal period, finding out if their insurance needs have changed, and making sure they have the best coverage at the lowest price. SAV-ON's biggest goal is to move customers from high-risk to preferred status drivers. Once they are preferred, they can become PEMCO customers.
    "Our ultimate goal is to sell policies in the triple digits for PEMCO each month," Phil states. "We have a strong sales team, and we're excited about selling PEMCO policies. We really appreciate our partnership and the way PEMCO has helped us reach these heights."
    June already has the makings of another big month, which would add to the lofty sales figures for a fourth straight month. With a dedicated team, and good, low rates from a terrific insurance company, who knows how long this could continue?

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agent?

    Some people think it doesn't really matter where they buy their insurance. But this misconception could be costing them money, service and protection. Buying insurance isn't like buying bread or milk. Insurance is an important safety net for your family, your home, your car or your business. Don't treat the purchase lightly!
    There is a difference in where you buy your protection. Many people don't realize there are three sources for insurance:

    •Captive Agents, who can sell you the insurance of only one company.

    •Telephone Representatives, who can offer you the insurance of one company, and only on the telephone.

    •Independent Insurance Agents, who represent an average of eight insurance companies, and research with these firms to find you the best combination of price, coverage and service.

    Your Independent Insurance Agent:

    •Is a licensed professional with strong customer and community ties.

    •Gives you excellent service and competitive prices because your agent can access the insurance coverage from more than one company.

    •Unlike other agents, is not beholden to any one company; thus, you don't need to change agencies as your insurance and service needs change.

    •Assists you when you have a claim.

    •Is your consultant, working with you as you determine your needs.

    •Offers you a choice of insurance plans and programs.

    •Is a value hunter who looks after your pocketbook in finding the best combination of price, coverage and service.

    •Offers one-stop shopping for a full range of products-home, renters, auto, business, life and health.

    •Can periodically review your coverage to keep up with your changing insurance needs.

    •Treats you like a person, not just another number.

    •Customer satisfaction is the key to an independent agent's livelihood. So, serving you is your independent agent's most-important concern.

    There Is A Difference !

    Compliments of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Washington

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Washington State intends on running its own temporary federally funded High risk Health Insurance Program

    We here at Sav-on like to help spread the word regarding Insurance related news affecting the Pacific North West.  This was a news release sent out by Washington State Insurance Commissioner's Office.

    OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Gov. Chris Gregoire have notified Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that Washington state intends to run its own temporary, federally-funded high risk health insurance program.

    “We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to provide much needed coverage to our uninsured,” said Kreidler. “There are many details that need to be worked out, but we plan to leverage the administrative framework and experience of the Washington State Health Insurance Program (WSHIP).”

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act designated $5 billion in federal funds to create temporary high risk pool programs to provide health insurance to currently uninsured individuals with preexisting conditions from July 1, 2010 to Jan. 1, 2014. States could either let the federal government run the program or contract with the federal government to set up the high risk pools through state programs or private non-profit entities.

    “Signaling our intent to run the new program ourselves is the first step in the process,” said Kreidler. “We expect to receive more details before formal applications are due at the end of May.”

    Under the new law, there are specific requirements for the high risk pools regarding eligibility, benefits, and funding. For instance, participants must:
    ■be a citizen or national of the U.S. or lawfully reside in the U.S.,

    ■must have been uninsured for at least six months,

    ■and must have a preexisting health condition.

    “Many of the details regarding benefits still need to be determined, but once the formal application has been made we intend to hold a public meeting to share information about the new program,” added Kreidler.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Her Last Call Was From a Cell Phone

    Cell phone use is a dangerous practice and many states -- including Washington -- have outlawed the use of a hand-held cell phone. Why? Because a distracted driver is a danger to themselves and everyone on the road.
    The photos you see are of a deadly crash between a speeding motorcycle and a compact car. The woman driving the VW was talking on her cell phone when she pulled out from a side street, apparently not seeing the speeding motorcycle racing towards her.
    The rider's reaction time was not sufficient enough to avoid this terrible accident. The bike rider was found INSIDE the car with the occupants of the car. All had been killed instantly.
    The Volkswagen actually flipped over from the force of the impact and landed 20 feet from where the collision took place.
    This graphic wreck was displayed at at motorcycle show by the police, in order to remind people what can happen when a driver is distracted while talking on a cell phone.

    Please do not talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel of a car. Either use a hands-free device or pull safely off the road, away from traffic, and make your call. Better yet, wait until you have exited your vehicle, then make the call. If you try to talk or text while driving, it may be the last call you ever make!

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    40% of Workplace Fatalities are Transportation Related

    Transportation incidents continue to be the No. 1 cause of on-the job deaths, a trend that has been the case since 1992, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE). In fact, in 2008, 40 percent of all workplace fatalities were transportation related, the association noted.

    "These crashes are preventable. With roadway construction up and the summer travel season just around the corner we must all do our part to prevent roadway crashes," said Portland, Oregon's Lee Briney, ASSE Columbia-Willamette Chapter President. "What is stunning is that the overall price tag for transportation crashes in the U.S. each year is $170 billion dollars (NHTSA) and we all end up paying for it. Those costs represent about $1,000 per person each year for property damage (streets, lampposts, guardrails, emergency services, court costs, insurance administration and much more). This figure doesn't take into account the extreme grief caused by the loss of a loved one. There is no way to calculate that cost."

    Briney recently met with several trucking, state and federal officials to discuss the high, tangible and intangible costs of car crashes . She joined several officials including ASSE's David Parsons, Oregon's May Trucking Company Senior Vice President David R. Jostad, Oregon Department of Transportation's Motor Carrier Division's Investigative/Safety/Federal Programs Department Head David McKane, Jubitz Travel Center COO Mark Gram and Sgt. John Naccarato of the Clackamus, Ore., police department, to address this issue.

    Briney went on to note that businesses alone pay about $60 billion per year in medical care, legal expenses, property damages, lost productivity and increased workers' compensation, social security, and private health and disability insurance costs as well as for the administration of all these programs. The average vehicle crash cost to an employer, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is $16,500. When a worker is involved in an on-the-job crash with injuries the cost to the employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved -- many times the employees did not cause these accidents, they were the victims.

    A recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report estimates that the cost of a police-reported crash involving trucks with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds averaged $91,112; a crash with trucks with two or three trailers involved were the rarest, but their cost was $289,549. The cost per nonfatal injury crash averaged $195,258 and fatal crashes cost an estimated $3,604,518 per crash.

    "Many businesses have driver safety programs that protect their workers," Briney said. These programs not only make good business sense but also help reduce the risks faced by employees and their families while protecting the bottom line."

    Those programs include: garnering senior management commitment and employee involvement; developing written policies and procedures (including seat belt use); regularly checking the safety of the motor vehicles; crash reporting and investigation; vehicle selection, maintenance and inspection; driver training and communication; not requiring workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their normal working hours; developing work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations; enforcing mandatory seat belt use; and banning cell phone use or texting while driving; not allowing employees to conduct work while driving, and more.

    Safety professionals also provide information on:

    •Securing materials for transport. L oose objects can slide around or come out of the vehicle and become airborne;
    •Requiring seat belt use. Each year seatbelts save more than 12,000 lives and prevent 325,000 serious injuries;
    •Distracted driving is a factor in 25 percent to 30 percent of all traffic crashes;
    •Driving under the influence. DUIs are involved in 40 percent of all fatal crashes;
    •Fatigued driving causes about 100,000 crashes a year;
    •Aggressive driving -- speeding, tailgating, failure to signal, and running a red light -- can be deadly;
    •Young drivers. Under federal law 16-year-old workers are not allowed to drive as part of their job;
    •17-year-olds may drive for work but only under strictly limited circumstances. Some state laws may be more restrictive.
    Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, Ill.-based ASSE is a professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Sharing your car for profit? Insurance Companies frown?

    Sharing cars in one way or another has grabbed quite a few headlines lately. From iPhone apps that help you line-up carpooling buddies to private companies that find vehicles available for use, several options exist to help you either find a ride or share your vehicle with someone else. All of these programs are great, but when it comes down to the simplest method of car sharing, handing the keys over to someone in return for cash, the law frowns.

    You see, insurance companies don't like this idea of offering up your car to someone else for dough. In fact, they can legally deny coverage of your vehicle if you do so. Current laws In California, and many other states, prohibit the private rental of your vehicle to somebody else, but that could change soon. A bill (AB 1871) written up by Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) aims to change the state's car insurance laws to allow personal vehicles to be rented out without the risk of losing insurance.

    You may be wondering why anyone would want to rent out their ride to a stranger. It makes sense if you look at a heavily congested city like San Francisco (pictured). Many residents of the Bay Area do not own personal vehicles and must rent one for trips outside of the city limits. On the flip side, people who do own vehicles rarely use them. In situations like this, private car sharing could be a perfect answer, if the law allowed it.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    How To Get An Immediate 10% Savings On Your Car Insurance ? Maybe......

    How To Get An Immediate 10% Savings On Your Car Insurance

    Insurance can be confusing at the best of times, but here are some of the most common misconceptions about auto insurance coverage. The colour of your car affects your insurance rate. Most people may not know it, but the insurance industry is colour-blind. It doesn't matter if your car is blue, red, silver, white, or black, your insurance rate for that make and model of car will always remain the same. A 2-door car is more expensive to insure than a 4-door. Not true. In fact a 4-door is often more expensive. This is because insurance companies look at the price of the car, repair costs, theft frequency and its previous claims history when determining your rate.

    Getting a parking ticket means your insurance rates will go up. If that were the case, we'd all be singing the blues. Parking tickets by themselves do not count against your driving record or your insurance, but unpaid fines could affect your ability to renew your driver's licence or worse result in a licence suspension - which will affect your rate. Getting a speeding ticket means your insurance rates will go up.
    Not necessarily. Your first minor speeding ticket (up to 15 mph over the speed limit) will probably not affect your insurance rate. But accumulate two or three convictions and you'll probably be paying more to be insured. A major speeding ticket (more than 15 mph over the speed limit) and your rates go up for sure.

    You don't have to pay your deductible if the police said the accident was not your fault. The police may not have deemed you criminally responsible for the accident, but it's your insurance company who has the final decision as to whether you pay your deductible or not. If they investigate the accident and rule that it's not your fault, they have the right to waive your deductible. Until then, you better be prepared to pay...

    Cheaper cars cost less to insure and luxury cars more to insure. Not necessarily. The premium you pay for your auto insurance is based on many factors including the price of the car, its repair costs, theft frequency and its previous claims history. When these factors are combined, a cheaper car could cost more to insure than a luxury model. It doesn’t matter which insurance company I have auto insurance with, I’ll end up paying the same rate. Not true. Auto insurance rates vary from company to company - sometimes by hundreds of dollars per year!

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Car Cloning don't be a victim

    Car Cloning: The Stolen Car Makeover. This is a relatively new phrase for most of us. Find out more about what can happen when your license plates are stolen.

    (NAPSI)-If you're shopping for a used car, experts say it's worth remembering the old adage: "If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is."

    A growing number of these "deals" turn out to be part of a con involving stolen vehicles and thousands of dollars. This scam-known as "VIN cloning" or "car cloning"-uses a vehicle identification number (VIN) from a legally registered car to mask the identity of a stolen one. Unfortunately, these stolen vehicles often end up in the hands of unsuspecting consumers.

    The FBI recently broke up one of the largest car theft rings in the country with the help of CARFAX. Car thieves in Florida, Illinois and Mexico cloned more than 1,000 vehicles worth $25 million.

    "Scam artists can make off with as much as $30,000 of your hard-earned money and leave you paying off a loan for a car you no longer own," said Larry Gamache, communications director at CARFAX. "What's worse, you may become part of a criminal investigation as well."

    Car thieves obtain VINs by simply swiping the plate or the number from vehicles sitting at dealerships or in parking lots. They then use the counterfeit numbers to alter existing ownership documents using the stolen vehicle identity. Or, they just forge new documents.

    The best way to make sure your car is legitimate is with thorough research. A vehicle history report, such as those offered by CARFAX, can be part of the solution to help car buyers avoid becoming victims.

    Consumers are also advised to follow these steps to help identify a potential clone:

    • Ask the seller to provide the title, service receipts and any other documents for the vehicle. Closely examine each document to make sure the VIN and names all match.

    • Tell the seller to show you a CARFAX Vehicle History Report. Pay close attention to where and when the vehicle was registered. Registrations in multiple states over a short time should raise a red flag.

    • Check if the mileage readings on all documents are consistent with the current odometer display.

    • Have the vehicle inspected by a trusted, professional mechanic prior to purchase.

    You can learn more at

    A vehicle history report could help used-car buyers avoid a scam known as "car cloning."