Five Expensive Distracted Driving Don’ts

Everybody has seen ads in the Chippewa Valley, as well as the Twin Cities metro area, discouraging texting while driving in recent years, but were you aware that there are many other distracted driving behaviors that can lead to disaster? And these are expensive mistakes, because they tend to lead to accidents, whether they involve just your car, or worse, another car.

  1. Grooming – brushing teeth, putting on makeup, or just looking in the mirror on the back of your visor to see if there’s anything in your teeth.
  2. Reading – reading a map, reading a book, reading directions on the back of an envelope, or reading that memo from work.
  3. Watching Videos – watching anything other than the road and traffic around you is going to cause problems, but trying to watch videos may be the worst.
  4. Eating – a study has shown that the worst culprits are soup, tacos, chili dogs, hamburgers, and coffee or soda.
  5. Adjusting the radio or CD player – some steering wheels have controls for this, but even those cause distraction.

Consequences of Distracted Driving

You may “just” get a ticket for weaving because you are distracted. The ticket won’t be cheap, and will include additional surcharges, which are used to fund a number of Wisconsin projects and programs. In addition to your ticket, the Wisconsin DMV will assign anywhere from 2 to 6 points for your violation. If you earn 12 points within a one year period, your Wisconsin driver’s license will be suspended, or even revoked.

Finally, if you actually do get into an accident, and it is judged to be your fault (which it will if you have been distracted by the following actions, texting, talking on the phone, or any other distractions), your insurance premiums are bound to increase. This means that not only do you have costs at the time of your violation or accident, but you will have continuing costs for years to come. This is in addition to the cost to your psyche if you have injured somebody, just to pry that cap off your soda, or select your favorite song on the CD you’re listening to.

As you are working with your Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services agent on drawing up your policy, be sure to discuss what the consequences of various types of tickets and other violations could be. Then, make sure everybody on your policy knows and understands them, and knows not to drive while distracted, in order to avoid the many serious consequences.

Auto Safety Tips

Maintenance

Auto safety begins with proper maintenance. Be sure to get regular oil changes at your Chippewa Valley dealer, or a full-service shop that will also check and top up all fluids. At the same time, have your tires rotated, and your spare tire checked for damage. Between maintenance checkups, if your check engine light happens to come on, don’t ignore it! Bring your car to your trusted mechanic.

While Driving

  • Follow the traffic laws. Wisconsin traffic laws can be found here. One important law to follow is to restrain all passengers. Children under 12 should be in the back seat, and child safety seats should be used as required. Pets should also be restrained while driving, whether in a carrier or a specialized pet seat belt.
  • Don’t drive when you are tired. If you start thinking it would be logical and safe to close your eyes for the count of 2, or 3, or anything, pull over, and rest before continuing. If you have taken medication that says “Don’t operate heavy machinery,” do not drive a vehicle.
  • Try not to drive in bad weather. If you absolutely must, leave in plenty of spare time, and drive as slow as you need to in order to feel safe. If a sudden burst of even WORSE weather comes up, pull over and wait it out, leaving your lights on so other drivers can see you.
  • Be careful when changing lanes. Look in the rearview mirror, side mirror, and blind spot, while signaling that you are going to change lanes. If a driver rudely speeds up to close your spot, allow them to pass before changing lanes. Never act on road rage—your own or someone else’s.
  • Obey the speed limit, unless the traffic around you is driving significantly faster. It can be safer to go 5 mph over the speed limit than to drive too slow.

In Case of Accident

If, despite all your best efforts, you get into an accident, think safety first. Be very careful where you meet the other driver. Keep your temper. Exchange insurance information and take as many pictures as you can. If there are injuries, call 911 immediately. Your next call (or first call if no injuries) needs to be to your Baldwin Woodville agent. Your agent will tell you exactly what to do, and help you through the entire process of dealing with the results of the accident, no matter who was at fault.