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August Long Weekend - Finally! - Safe Driving Reminders

Guthrie Insurance

It seems pretty obvious but often safe driving practices take a back seat in the rush to get out of town. With this, and the potential for a 15% reduction in auto premiums, we thought some timely automobile tips would be in order.

Summer's now in full swing! The weather is warm and the kids are out of school. You're spending weekends or vacations at the cottage, trailer or lake, or maybe you're enjoying an awesome summer festival. You know what they say though, "there are two seasons in Canada: Winter and Construction" and it's so true. With summer comes constructions zones, lots of traffic, and it just wouldn't be the same without a car accident to slow everything to a grinding halt.

Car accidents can happen to even the best of drivers. Of course they tend to happen more frequently to those drivers who are less experienced, distracted, angry, impaired or not paying attention.

Brokers incessantly hear people say they are paying too much for auto insurance - whether it's our clients, friends, on the radio or TV.

Consumers want to see a 15% cut in auto insurance premiums, and they want the insurers to figure it out themselves. But I am curious - as obvious as it seems to everyone - how many of us are actually guiding our clients to drive safer?

I remember being impressed back in January by the cautious driving I saw on the 401 during a heavy snowfall, the traffic was flowing smoothly, drivers were leaving lots of space and not cutting in and out. They could see the inherent danger, and drove according to the road conditions.

Fast forward to now, it is mid-summer, and while driving along the highway, it seems to me that there is always someone RIGHT on my tail. I get cut off a lot more, nobody signals their lane changes and I've personally seen more accidents this summer than I saw all winter – ALL WINTER!

If consumers want to see a 15% cut in auto insurance, I say we start with a 15% cut in the number of accidents that occur.

Have I missed something here? Does anyone else notice that the only advertisements for insurance on TV send the message: "Save money by moving to us"? I feel this instills the notion that our auto premium rates have nothing to do with how you drive, but rather just the insurance company that you're insured with! The message from these advertisements should be more educational for the public and address why premiums are what they are. I'm not suggesting that advertisements become some boring infomercial mimicking something like a D&O Webinar – rather something like "did you know that X insurance company paid out $__ last year in claims? If you want cheaper auto insurance we all have to do our part by driving safely" or "You can save X much if we all drive better – pass the word on!" or "Do your part, drive smart".

If we can create a culture of safety and caring for each other – in the sense that we're not taking advantage of these financial safety-nets – a culture of speaking up if we sense something is wrong (ie: medical clinics & repair shops gouging insurers) then we can create a better culture for our society overall – and nobody loses.

EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL (broker) CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Whether you are speaking with clients, friends, family or strangers, I propose we push the 'safe driving culture' agenda. Starting with:

Quarterly Driving Complacency Check
If you drive often, you may find yourself now and then 'yielding' at stop signs, charging through amber lights, leaving late and then racing to work, excessively speeding, driving too close to others, or getting angry or frustrated with the traffic and/or construction.

The idea here is that every 3 months or less, take a few moments before driving. Take a deep breath, relax, think about where you're headed and make a conscious effort to drive safer. Stop at every stop sign for a full 3 seconds and look around for pedestrians and cyclists. Slow down a bit and just enjoy the ride. Ease off the car in front of you. I bet you would not only notice that you become a safer driver, but that you're also less stressed and still make it to your destination on time - all while reducing your risk of having an automobile accident.

Some other suggestions:
> Signal where you're going, even if you don't think someone is looking it is a good habit to form.
> Come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs, especially when making a right hand turn.
> Take your time driving, why are you in such a rush?
> Do not use your phone when driving. Try and keep your 'hands-free' conversations to a minimal – even conversation can be distracting.
> Leave lots of room between you and the car in front of you and behind if possible.
> Pay attention to where you're going, and be prepared to make your exit or turn so you are not cutting people off.
> Allow people to merge into your lane. They have as much right to use the road as you do.
> If someone cuts you off, or does something else that gets your blood boiling – LET IT GO. That may have been their one and only mistake (have you ever made one…sure!) – or they may do it all the time – but retaliating can create an even more dangerous problem, putting you and everyone else around you in a perilous position.

All in all, you may think that it's impossible to get everybody to drive to these standards, but if every single one of us shared even one of the above tidbits of advice with a friend, colleague, client, family member or complete stranger, then they may mention it to their friends, and eventually the word might spread around.

Thanks for reading. Have a safe and happy long weekend!

Alex Guthrie, RIBo, CAIB
YBC Territory 10 Leader

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