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Tips to Eliminate Distracted Driving

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

A recent AAA study has found that driver inattention is a factor in over 1 million accidents a year and has an economic impact of over 40 billion dollars a year.

Most of us are familiar with the causes of distracted driving. These would include texting, using a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading a map, using a navigation system, watching a video, and adjusting the radio.

If you watched any television in the last few years, you no doubt have seen public service ads about the serious problems with texting and driving. Studies now show that texting and driving is actually worse than drinking and driving. Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. Texting while driving has become the most alarming cause of distracted driving in America.

The solution to this growing problem is not easy. Many states and municipalities have passed laws to limit and/or eliminate texting or cell phone use while driving. Does your company have a policy regarding prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving? For those individuals that own and/or manage companies and would like to address this problem in your company, the link below will lead you to a National Safety Council site where you can obtain a free Cell Phone Policy Kit

Listed below are tips that you can share, as well as follow, to avoid distracted driving:

  • Do not text or talk on the phone while driving.
  • If you must talk or text, pull off the road at a safe point.
  • Avoid taking your eyes off the road.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel.
  • Focus on driving and refrain from eating, smoking, drinking liquids, reading, or any other activity that does not allow you to maintain your focus.
  • Make sure you plan your trip ahead of time.

Senior Loss Control Representative

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Texting & Driving: Is It Really Worth the Risk?

Posted by on Nov 5, 2012 in Blog, Small Business Safety

Growing up, I remember the American Express Card television commercials that reminded us, “Don’t leave home without it.” We could use the same analogy today with a device that most of us have—our cell phones.

It doesn’t seem to matter if we are teenagers off to school or managers of a successful company; the one device we must all have to stay connected is the cell phone. When cell phones or car phones first came on the market, they came in a case about the size of today’s laptop computer. But now we can easily slip them in our pockets to stay connected. Sending text messages is an easy way to send a quick note to a coworker about where to meet for lunch or remind our significant other to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home from work, but when is it safe to text?

According to the website,, there are three main processes that distract us while behind the wheel.

Taking your hands off the wheel is often done while driving. If we are trying to send a text message and drive, we are obviously taking our hands off the wheel, so the reminder from our drivers’ education teacher of keeping our hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel goes right out the window.

Taking your eyes off the road, looking to make sure you have sent a text to the correct person, or checking your spelling for only a few seconds force you to take your eyes off what is important, the road.

Taking your mind off driving can prove dangerous. If we are sending a text message while driving, our mind is shifted from the road and what is around us to what is on that little screen in our hands. In June 2011, over 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the U.S., up nearly 50% from June 2009. Of course, not all of these were sent while behind the wheel, but many of them were, and the number is increasing each year.

Sending or receiving a text forces a driver to take his or her eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. For most people, that is not a very long time, but in distance, it equals the length of a football field if driving 55 mph. Just imagine how many other cars could cut in front of you or how quickly a traffic light could change during a short 100 yards.

When we think of texting, we seem to focus more on teen drivers. About 40% of teens questioned after being involved in serious car accidents reported that the driver was distracted with 16% of distracted driving crashes involving drivers under the age of 20.

Unfortunately, it would be very difficult to totally eliminate car accidents, but there are things we can do to help reduce the hazards. Educating not only teen drivers but adult drivers about the dangers of texting and driving and strictly enforcing laws that are set in place that make it illegal to text and drive are just a few.

Many states like Illinois have a “primary law” that bans texting while driving and allows police officers to pull over a driver suspected of texting and driving without committing any other type of violation.

All Illinois drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. Illinois’ anti-texting law (625 ILCS 5/12-610.2) states that “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to compose, send, or read an electronic message.” An electronic communication device refers to a wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer that’s used for the purpose of composing, reading, or sending an electronic message.

So I guess a question we can all ask ourselves is: Is the time we need to send that text really worth the risk, or should I say, a life?

Dan Brueggemann
Loss Control Representative

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Put Down Your Cell Phone and Drive—It’s the Law

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Blog, My Favorite Things

Rebecca GaleIn recent years, there has been a national increase in discussion regarding the dangers of distracted driving. One of the benefits of that awareness can be observed here in Illinois where there has been successful legislation passed to update the laws relating to cell phone usage behind the wheel.

Currently, driving in Illinois while using a cell phone is illegal for those individuals under the age of 19 with or without a hands-free device, drivers holding a learner’s permit, school bus drivers, all drivers operating vehicles in a school or construction zone, and also commercial tractor trailer drivers without utilizing a hands-free option. All drivers are prohibited from text messaging and related activities such as emailing and using the Internet. The laws that went into effect in the last 16 months were good steps to reduce accidents related to distracted driving, but current legislation has taken further measures to help keep roads safe in Illinois. To that end, effective January 1, 2014, all drivers in Illinois will be prohibited from using hand-held devices.

Two new laws have been signed aimed at improving the statistics relating to distracted driving. One law prohibits the use of all hand-held mobile phones while driving on Illinois roads, and the second increases penalties when any use of an electronic device while driving is the cause of an accident. House Bill 1247 prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle on any road in Illinois while using a mobile phone. The exception to this would be for hands-free devices including those with headsets that can initiate calls with a voice command or a single button. House Bill 2585 increases the penalties that can be imposed on drivers whose use of an electronic device while driving is determined to be the cause of an accident. If the accident causes great bodily harm, the driver can be sentenced to up to 1 year in prison. A fatal accident can result in a prison sentence of 1-3 years and fines up to $25,000. Current law only allows these drivers to be charged with a traffic violation, so the new ramifications are a significant increase in the applicable penalties.

According to the National Safety Council, distracted drivers of all ages are four times more likely to be in an accident when using a cell phone for traditional conversations and eight times more likely while texting. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has concluded that text messaging while driving is the most alarming distraction for a driver because it involves three types of distraction: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your focus away from being a safe, effective driver). Because of these
statistics, the Underwriting Department at Pekin Insurance considers citations for distracted driving, including texting while driving or using a cell phone while driving, as serious motor vehicle violations which may result in changes to a driver’s premium rates or even which auto program a customer would qualify for. When investigating a loss, the Claim Department regularly requests recorded statements from the parties involved, and a standard question during those statements relates to distractions with specific references to cell phone usage. If cell phone usage at the time of a loss is in question, records can be requested, and if a file is under litigation, they may even be subpoenaed as a part of establishing liability.

As drivers, we all have a responsibility to ourselves and others to drive safely. Distracted driving is not just risky, it can have deadly consequences. As community members, parents, and employees, we all have a duty to behave in a responsible manner and set the example. Remember to do your part to keep our roads and highways safe!

Rebecca Gale
Quality Control Examiner

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High Risk Auto

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in

If you have a less-than-perfect driving record due to serious auto accidents, multiple claims, or motor vehicle violations, we have auto insurance coverage for those at high risk.

What do you get with a Crossroads auto insurance program?

  • Reliable coverage at a reasonable price from an A (Excellent) rated company by A.M. Best.
  • Financial responsibility filings are available with no fee.
  • Above minimum liability limits and umbrella coverage available for qualifying policyholders.
  • Loss Free, Multi-Car, Good Student, and Auto/Home Discounts available.
  • Home ownership discount of 5% is available if home insured by another carrier.
  • Two months premium is required for down payment to bind coverage.

Examples of qualifying violations that make you a high risk

Major Violations

Driving while intoxicated, refusal to take a breathalyzer test, speeding more than 45 mph over the speed limit, drag racing, reckless driving, intoxicant in vehicle, and illegal possession of alcohol.

Serious Violations

Excessive acceleration, careless driving, speeding over 25 mph over the limit but less than 45 mph over, leaving the scene of an accident, texting while driving, unlawful cell phone use, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, and passing a stopped school bus.

See what Pekin Insurance can do for you.

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Distracted Drivers

Posted by on Aug 6, 2012 in Blog, Small Business Safety

Is there anyone you want to text or talk to that is worth going to prison for? None for me, but the number of distracted drivers is increasing every day, and the hazard they present on our roads is becoming a major concern around the country.

Recently a young man was the first person in Massachusetts to be sentenced to prison under a new law for an auto accident that kills someone. The driver was
texting at the time of the accident. Although most states do not have a law like this, the police and district attorneys are becoming more aggressive when dealing with drivers who have been or may have been distracted while driving. It certainly is easy enough for authorities to check your cell phone record to see if it was in use at the time of the accident.

If our commercial accounts do not have a cell phone policy, we strongly suggest they adopt one that strongly discourages or prohibits using a cell phone while
driving. We feel it is best to prohibit the practice and require drivers to pull over when it is safe and then return the text/call.

From a loss control perspective, it is better to have a driver safety awareness
program with positive and frequent safe driving tips to help your employees become better drivers and defensive drivers. However, it is also critical that we remind
employees and friends that driving and texting/talking on the phone can be fatal and can result in criminal prosecution and prison time. That is unfortunate, but it is part of the world we live in today.

Ed DeDolph
Senior Loss Control Representative

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