Extreme Weather: Your Guide to Surviving Driving In It

As the seasons change from fall to winter, drivers are likely to encounter any number of obstacles that increase the odds of an accident. In fact, of the average 5,891,000 vehicle crashes each year, approximately 21 percent (almost 1,235,000) are weather-related. From rain and wind to ice, hail, snow, and sleet, extreme weather events inevitably impact road safety.

white vehicle near tall tree at cloudy sky during daytime

Extreme Weather – How to Survive Driving In It

So what’s a commuter to do when driving from point A to point B is the only option? If you have to traverse the roads in treacherous circumstances, it’s important to know how best to navigate sticky situations. Here are Metromile’s best tips for traveling in tricky weather conditions (and if an unfortunate event does occur, make sure you know how to take advantage of Metromile’s roadside assistance program):

Wildfires

If you or someone you know lives in California, then you were undoubtedly well aware of the devastating wildfires that tore through the state earlier this year. But whether the cause is lightning, arson, drought, or climate change, fires can occur anywhere, any time, and can spread far and wide in a second.

So what are you supposed to do if a wildfire suddenly threatens your area? Because the disastrous effects spread so quickly, it’s critical to be prepared. Consider signing up for your community’s warning system so you’ll receive text alerts in case of emergency. Get to know your community’s evacuation plan, and have several possible exit routes in mind.

The most important thing to do in the event of a wildfire, of course, is to evacuate immediately. But jumping in your vehicle amid unpredictable flames can clearly be a scary prospect. According to experts, the most important factor in survival is to leave early — don’t debate your decision to evacuate, just get on the road. Because a blaze can “leapfrog” or “hopscotch” across the ground, there are no guarantees that a car can outrun flames. Streets and highways can become blocked in a matter of seconds, and traffic and visibility can become increasingly worse. Don’t wait until the last minute, and just go.

  • As you drive, roll up your windows, close the air vents, and turn on the AC to minimize smoke inhalation and irritation.
  • Take precaution and drive slowly with your headlights and hazards on, as the air quality may compromise visibility.
  • Experts recommend covering yourself with dry fabric, preferably wool, if possible, to protect your skin.
  • If you see flames approaching as you drive, seek out a parking spot that’s free of debris, and try to find a barrier like a concrete wall to block the fire.
  • Most importantly, do everything you can to remain calm, and don’t, under any circumstances, exit the vehicle.

Flash floods

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, floods are the most widespread and common weather-related natural disasters. Heavy rains, intense ocean waves, melted slow, or dam or levee breaks can cause sudden overflowing surges of water anywhere in the world.

While flash floods can occur spontaneously, the National Weather Service (NWS) issues watches and warnings, intended to give local residents notice that conditions are either favoring a flash flood, or one is imminent. Take heed of these announcements, and evacuate ASAP if necessary.

If you’re behind the wheel while a flash flood is occurring, NWS has a simple but potentially life-saving adage to remember: “turn around don’t drown.” More than half of flood-related drownings occur when a car is driven into hazardous flood water. Rushing water is far more powerful and forceful than many people realize — even just six inches of swiftly moving water can knock a person down, 12 inches can carry away a small car, and two feet can sweep away most vehicles.

  • Unlike wildfires, when it’s safest to stay in your vehicle, flash flooding may necessitate a quick exit. If you’re stuck on a road and water levels are rising fast, get out of the car as fast as you can and move to a higher elevation.
  • Avoid driving through water that an electrical or power line has fallen into, and avoid using your phone unless you have to report severe injuries.
  • As you drive, be extra vigilant of objects traveling downstream that could hit your vehicle.
  • If your brakes become too wet to stop your vehicle, you can try to dry them by gently applying pressure on the brake pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed with your right, but evacuate your vehicle immediately if conditions become too rough.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are another natural disaster that can occur suddenly, almost anywhere, though they are more likely to occur over fault lines. If you live in an area that’s more likely to be struck by an earthquake, preparation is again key, so having a few escape routes and emergency protocols is essential.

That said, driving during an earthquake is a unique experience because the shake may not be felt from a moving vehicle, and there may not be any visible clues as to what’s going on. The only indication some drivers get during a tremor is that they lose control of their vehicles for no apparent reason.

  • The best thing a driver can do in that situation is to slow down until it’s safe to pull over, as far from trees, power lines, bridges, buildings, or overpasses, as possible.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the quake is over, and keep your seatbelt secured. It’s best to avoid using your telephone and instead tune into the radio for emergency broadcasting updates.
  • Once it’s safe to start driving again, pay extra attention to the potentially damaged road and keep an eye out for stalled vehicles and/or dangerous damage.

Tornadoes

According to FEMA, tornadoes are considered nature’s most violent storms, and can cause widespread devastation and fatalities in a matter of seconds. Every state in the country is at some risk of a tornado, though certain states, like Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, are more prone to them. Tornadoes can strike quickly, with little or no warning, so preparation is key. Keep an eye out for watches and warnings and know the warning signs:

  • A dark, often greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, low cloud that may be rotating
  • A loud roar that may sound like a freight train

If you receive an alert or you spot any of the signs above, be prepared to take shelter. And if you’re already in your car, get out immediately and stay as low to the ground as possible. It’s best to take refuge in a sturdy building, but if there’s no shelter nearby, get far away from your car and find a ditch or other low area where you can lay down on your front side and cover the back of your head. The only situation in which it’s recommended that you stay in your vehicle is if there’s no lower ground than the road you’re already on; in that case, fasten your seatbelt and lower your head below the windows, covering your head with your hands or a blanket.

Hurricanes

Hurricanes typically occur in the Southwest U.S. and the Pacific Coast where heavy rains and floods are possible. These tropical cyclones can cause catastrophic damage with wind speeds exceeding 155 miles per hour and can cause torrential rain, leading to potentially fatal flooding.

  • People who live in areas prone to hurricanes are advised to have a wind-safe room in their homes and to evacuate if directed to do so by local authorities.
  • If you’re on the road when a hurricane hits, stay in your car and seek shelter in a parking garage if you can.
  • Avoid driving through water and keep an eye out for fallen wires and other potential hazards.
  • If your car hydroplanes (starts traveling on the surface of the standing water instead of the road), release the gas slowly and steer straight until your tires are back on the road; don’t slam the brakes or turn the steering wheel — wait until you’ve regained traction before lightly tapping the brakes.

Heavy Rain/Lightning and Thunderstorms

According to the Department of Transportation, nearly half of weather-related crashes occur during rainfall. The best way to avoid a rainy day accident, is, of course, to avoid driving in the rain altogether. But if you absolutely can’t avoid a heavy rain commute, follow these tips:

  • Plan ahead and if possible, pick a route that’s at a higher elevation and less likely to flood.
  • Maintain a clear windshield by cleaning out dead leaves and other debris on a regular basis.
  • Use your headlights, but avoid turning on the high beams — the extra bright light can reflect off the rain and shine right into your eyes.
  • Keep more distance than usual between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Never use cruise control when driving in heavy rain, as it can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
  • In the event that your car hydroplanes (i.e. begins to ride on top of the standing water instead of the road surface), immediately take your foot off the gas, but don’t stomp on the brakes. Instead, turn your steering wheel gently in the direction that your car is traveling to help your tires realign, and when you reconnect with the road, pull over and make sure you’re feeling calm and safe enough to keep going.

Black Ice

If you live in or often drive through cold climates, then you may be familiar with black ice, a glaze that forms on the surface of roads due to a light freezing rain or melting/refreezing of snow or rain. The name is a bit of a misnomer since the ice isn’t black, but clear, making it almost invisible. It often forms at night or early in the morning, and is more likely to form on parts of the road that are less traveled on and/or don’t get much sunlight. Though it’s mostly transparent, you can locate black ice in the right lighting conditions if you know what to look for: very shiny, smooth, sheets.

If you’ll be driving in areas prone to black ice, it’s a good idea to practice driving on slippery surfaces like ice in a safe surrounding. In a controlled, safe setting, this kind of practice can prepare you for how to react in an emergency black ice encounter.

  • If you do hit black ice, experts generally recommend that you stay calm and just keep going straight — don’t hit the brakes.
  • If you start to veer to the left or right, gently turn your steering wheel in that direction.
  • Take your foot off the gas pedal and head toward an area that has more traction (like snow or sand).
  • If your car starts to skid, stay calm. If you have anti-lock braking system (ABS), put your foot on the brake with firm pressure and allow the car to pump your brakes for you. If you don’t have ABS, gently pump the brakes yourself. In either case, gently steer in the direction you want to go.

Snow/Blizzard

The best way to prepare for any situation — weather-related or otherwise — is to have an emergency kit in your car that includes essentials like a flashlight, jumper cables, warning flares, and more. Once you’re on the road, if snow starts to fall, drive slowly and increase the distance between you and the vehicle ahead. You’ll also want to be gentle with your brake pedal and don’t use cruise control. If you’re going up hills, avoid tire spinning by gaining momentum before you ascend and then slowing down before you reach the top.

If you find yourself driving through a whiteout, now’s the time to slow way, way down. Your visibility will be severely compromised, so the slower you go, the better. It’s also essential to make your vehicle as visible as possible, so turn on all your headlights and communicate with hand gestures if you can. The best option is to stop your car and wait until the whiteout ends. Just remember to turn on your hazard lights, and if you’re running your car (just for 10 minutes at a time every hour to keep heat), crack the window to avoid a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.

Have Questions About Insurance Coverage?

Hopefully, you’re now feeling more confident on the road, but if you want to feel more confident in your car insurance company, it’s time to talk with a Metromile agent. If you’re already a customer, one of Metromile’s qualified specialists can help you figure out the best coverage plan for you. And if you’re still debating which carrier is right for you, call 1.888.242.5204 or visit Metromile.com today to get a free quote.

How to Navigate Thanksgiving Traffic Like a Boss

Thanksgiving brings to mind family, friends, turkey, potatoes, and thanks-giving — of course. But, it can also bring Thanksgiving traffic to mind. Millions of people travel for the holidays and a majority of them travel by car. In fact, last year nearly 51 million Americans contributed to road congestion over the Thanksgiving holiday (a 3.3% increase over the previous year).

The Thanksgiving Traffic Forecast 2018?

Inrix predicts your time on the road could increase by as much as 4X, with 2.5 million more people opting to commute by car for the holiday. That’s 4.8% more people on the roads, for a total of 54.3 million drivers – all with the common goal of gobbling till they wobble.

With all those people on the road, safety is a major concern. While you may be used to cruising around your neighborhood on the daily, adding holiday travelers to the mix is bound to result in much more congestion, traffic, and errors. Luckily, Google, mapped Thanksgiving across the country to help drivers understand when Thanksgiving traffic is worse than normal (i.e. when to stay off the roads).

When To Stay Off The Roads

  1. Don’t even think of hitting the road between 3-4pm on November 21st, unless you enjoy slowly creeping down the highway as a glacial speed.
  2. Trying to hit the stores Friday morning for the Black Friday sales? You should be fine- Black Friday traffic is usually the same as any other Friday, just prepare yourself for that parking lot madness.
  3. Heading home Sunday? So is everyone else! Polarizing times seem to be better; so shoot for early morning or later in the evening.

Overall, the best days to travel will be Thanksgiving Day itself, Friday, or Saturday. Drivers, flyers, and alternative transit users should all expect travel delays on Sunday. While we know avoiding the traffic altogether is the safest option, we also know that holiday travel is usually unavoidable. So, if you can’t beat them, you’ll have to join the masses on the roads.

Tips For Navigating Thanksgiving Traffic Like a Boss

  1. Avoid the busiest travel days: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often times easier said than done. The busiest travel days are the Friday before Thanksgiving, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday following Thanksgiving.
  2. The early driver catches the worm: Leave early. Taking data from past holidays, Google has found that leaving by 6 a.m. on Sunday is your best bet. From there on out traffic will only get worse. Headed home? – Leave early; Friday is the best time to head home Thanksgiving traffic free.
  3. When in doubt, Podcast it out: Be prepared for traffic anyways and have a playlist, audiobook or Podcast ready to entertain you while you wait it out. Having something to listen to will keep you calm so you show up to Thanksgiving refreshed not stressed.
  4. Be courteous: Everyone is pretty much on the road for the same reason, to get somewhere to eat and celebrate with loved ones. We could all use a little extra kindness here and there and making the extra effort to be polite to others on the road can make a huge difference.
  5. Please be safe out there, Metromilers: Remember to keep your seatbelts fastened and all your limbs inside the vehicle at all times. Avoid distractions and use a portable navigation system if possible. Be sure to drive at the speed limit and leave that road rage at home for the holiday, no one likes a Scrooge at Thanksgiving.

  6. Be thankful: Traffic is definitely a nuisance and sometimes it’s easier to complain and focus on the negative. But, always remember that the traffic could be worse, or you could not be going to spend the holidays with loved ones. Being thankful for what you have and taking every day one step at a time, and every traffic jam one mile at a time can make that stop-and-go freeway drive that much more bearable.

So this Thanksgiving just remember, planning ahead and being prepared for congestion is the best way to avoid the stress that that traffic can cause. Team Metromile is wishing all you road trippers and commuters a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you do have some big holiday road trips in the future, you are in luck if you are a Metromile pay-per-mile car insurance customer. We have a daily mileage cap so you won’t be charged for over a 250 miles a day (150 in certain states), but still will be totally covered all the way to grandma’s house!

How To Prevent Teen Driving Accidents

As a teenager, there’s nothing more exciting than getting your driver’s license. You practice for months, take the test, and BAM – you officially have your freedom! As a parent of a teenager, however, there’s nothing scarier than your teen getting their driver’s license. Not only does your child now have the keys to your car, but you have now been saddled with an extra expense – adding your teen driver to your car insurance policy.

As adults, we all wonder why car insurance costs so much for ourselves – but we all know one thing for sure: why it costs so much for our teen drivers. Teen drivers get into more accidents than any other section of the population. In fact, individuals aged 15 – 20 years make up 6.7% of the total driving population, but are involved in 20% of all crashes and 14% of motor vehicle deaths. With school back in session and a whole new group of teenagers turning 16, we want to arm you with the best tips for preventing accidents in teen drivers.

Some Stats

Teen driver statistics are grim. The overwhelming majority (75%!) of serious teen driver crashes are due to “critical errors,” with three common errors accounting for nearly half of these crashes:

  1. Lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazards
  2. Going too fast for road conditions
  3. Being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle

The majority of newly licensed teen drivers exit the learner’s permit period without basic driving skills mastered, leading to a much higher risk of crashing (compared with more experienced drivers). The most common types of crashes in teen drivers involve left turns, rear-end events, and running off the road.

10% of all teen driving fatalities in 2016 involved distracted driving. Even more disturbing, in crashes involving a distracted teen driver, 51% of fatalities were teens themselves. Of the 451 young drivers killed who had alcohol in their systems, 368 (82%) were at .08 g/dL or higher (past the legal driving limit for adults 21+). Of crashes with available seat belt usage information, 47% of teen drivers killed were unrestrained at the time of the crash.

However, there is a bright spot in all of these grisly stats. 12 states (AZ, CA, VA, MA, NV, IL, NJ, MN, GA, FL, VT, and MO) reduced their teen driver-related fatality rates by more than 50% between 2005 – 2006 and 2009 – 2010.

Top Drivers of Teen Car Accidents

There are more than a few reasons why teens are the most likely group to get into a car accident. Here are the top reasons:

  1. Distracted driving: This includes engaging in any type of activity that takes their eyes and mind off the road, such as using a phone, eating, adjusting the radio, and chatting with passengers.
  2. Driver inexperience: Teens with less than two years of driving experience do not have the know-how to recognize and react to dangerous situations, and crash risk is particularly high during the first months after earning a license because teenagers are excited to hit the roads unsupervised – yikes!
  3. Driving under the influence: In general, teenagers are more prone to engage in dangerous behaviors while driving, and almost 25% of teens report that they are willing to ride with a driver who has been drinking (a very scary thought!). Combined with lack of experience, driving while under the influence of alcohol becomes a common cause of teen car accidents and deaths.
  4. Reckless driving: Male teenagers are especially at risk for being involved in fatal reckless driving accidents. The reckless driving behaviors include making illegal turns or lane changes, tailgating, and street racing.
  5. Driving with teen passengers: Studies have shown that the presence of teen passengers can increase a young driver’s risk of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and engaging in reckless driving through peer pressure.
  6. Texting and driving: Texting and driving has become a major cause of auto accidents involving teens. In addition to texting, using social media while driving creates the same level of distraction for young drivers.

Car Accident Prevention Tips

Now that we’ve laid down the facts, let’s talk about some ways that we can prevent teen car accidents.

  • Develop the right attitude. It is crucial to instill the right attitude towards driving in teenagers. As a parent, make a commitment to yourself and your child to teach them a responsible driving attitude. You owe it to your child, their passengers, and everyone else on the road.
  • Log hours of practice. Take an active role in your child’s practice driving. Make a firm schedule and have them stick to it, and continue this all the way up until their driving exam.
  • Slow and steady. When your teen begins driving, avoid high volumes of fast-moving traffic. Once they become more comfortable behind the wheel, you can gradually introduce more difficult driving situations, such as merging onto a highway or driving in the city.
  • Cell phones are for emergency use only. Be absolutely clear with your teen to make sure that they understand: they must always pull over to the side of the road if they need to use their cell phone in a driving emergency. Otherwise, it could cost them or someone else their life.
  • Stress dangers of drinking and driving. Many teenagers find ways to obtain alcohol before they turn 21 (yes, even your teenager!). Teens may not realize they don’t have to be legally drunk to become risky drivers. Regardless of blood alcohol concentration levels, they are more likely to get into a car accident and become injured or die.

Together, we can reduce these grim teen driver statistics and make the roads a safer place for everyone. If you’re already a Metromile customer and have a new teen driver in your home, add them onto your policy in a snap. If you’re not yet a Metromile customer, consider making the switch or getting a policy for your teenager (who is most likely a low-mileage driver!). The quote is always free, so grab a quote today. As always, stay safe out there and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

6 Safety Tips for Summer Road Trips

Across the United States, summertime means vacations and road trips for many families. It can be an exciting adventure to pass your time when on a break from school or work. Whether you are road-tripping near or very far, ensuring that your vehicle is ready for the trip is important. If you don’t plan ahead, you could be spending some of your trip on the side of the road. Below are some of the top tips you need to take into consideration before heading out for a summer road trip.

6 Safety Tips for Summer Road Trips

  1. Check Your Vehicle’s Tires

    One of the biggest things to check off your list before you pull out of your driveway is to check your tires. Trying to take a road trip with tires that are not in good shape or not inflated properly is extremely dangerous.
    First, you should be sure to check your car’s tire pressure. If your tires have too much air in them, you will not be able to stop as quickly. It can also cause your tires to wear down quicker and unevenly. If you don’t have enough air in your tires, it can lead to excessive wear on the tread, poor handling, and low fuel efficiency.

    Another thing to check with your tires is the amount of tread left on them. The depth of the tire tread can determine your vehicle’s safe stopping distance. You can always check this yourself by doing the Lincoln test. Place the penny upside-down in the groove of your tread. If you are able to see the president’s head on the penny, it is time to get your tires replaced.

    Lastly, always ensure you get your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles or so. This will help your tires wear more evenly and last longer.

  2. Plan Ahead Accordingly

    While it can be extra adventurous to take an impromptu road trip, it is not always the best or safest way to go about it. If you want to make sure you are safe and can fully enjoy your road trip, the best way is to plan ahead as much as possible. Planning ahead can ensure you are ready to tackle any issues or problems that get in your way without having to ruin or cancel your trip altogether. Another benefit of planning your trip ahead of time is creating an itinerary so that you have exciting places to visit on your drive. If you are just winging it, you may just pass up an incredible opportunity to visit a cool roadside attraction.

  3. Have Backup Plans and Assistance Ready

    When road tripping, you need to have an emergency plan to put into place. If you get a flat tire, do you have a spare? If your vehicle breaks down, do you have money for a tow truck? You need to have extra money for emergency situations so that you don’t find yourself stuck out in the middle of nowhere without anyone to help. It’s also a good idea to have a safety kit and some tools in your car. An extra tire, first aid kit, tire jack and a set of jumper cables are a good place to start.

  4. Carry Active Car Insurance

    It is never advisable or a good idea to plan a road trip without having your insurance up-to-date and active. If you are in the market for a new car insurance company, consider making the switch to Metromile. With Metromile customers pay a low base rate to and then a minimal fee per mile. This can be a great car insurance option for drivers who don’t use their vehicles too much. The less time you spend driving, the more money you can potentially save on your insurance premiums. Metromile also offers roadside assistance.

  5. Stay Alert and Cautious

    Aside from making sure your vehicle is in good condition and that you have your insurance and backup plans in place, a safe road trip during the summer will ultimately boil down to being a safe driver. While you are driving, it is important to stay alert and share the road with other drivers. Take your time and enjoy the scenery to make some memories with your loved ones that will last a lifetime.

By following these tips and planning ahead, you can stay safe and minimize your chance of car problems during your trip. Go out there and see where your road trip takes you this summer!

Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist for Great Deal Tires. She regularly produces content for a variety of car and safety blogs.

Teen Driving Safety Tips

As a parent, there’s almost nothing scarier than handing the car keys to your teenager and watching them drive away. You cross your fingers, hoping and praying that the years of teaching and giving life lessons to them has paid off. Out of anyone, new drivers need the most practice to get the hang of things – so there are a few tips that teens should know before getting behind the wheel.

Teen-Driving-Safety-Tips

Your teenager sees their driver’s license as their key to freedom. However, teenagers have a higher rate of fatal crashes due to their lack of skills, experience, and maturity. It’s crucial to instill safe driving tips and techniques in teens before they hit the roads. Keep reading for our best tips for teens to stay safe while driving!

Teen Driving Safety Tips

  1. Lead by example. If a teen spends time in the car with a parent who practices safe driving, they are much more likely to follow suit. Be a good role model for your teen and don’t text/talk and drive or participate in other distracting activities while behind the wheel. Don’t forget that your teen begins learning to drive by watching you, their parent. Leading by example is a great way to instill safe driving habits in your teenager before they ever sit in the driver’s seat.
  2. Talk to them. Spend time talking to your teenager about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. The conversation doesn’t need to be uncomfortable or awkward. Let them know that if they are even in a situation where they’ve been drinking or taking drugs that they should call you for a ride no matter what. We were all teenagers once, and perhaps many of us wish that our parents had taken the time to talk to us about doing the right thing when it comes to driving and being safe behind the wheel.
  3. Prohibit distracted driving. Did you know that 1 in 3 teens say that they have texted while driving? Research has shown that dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen’s risk of crashing by 6 times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times. Remind your teen that driving is a privilege that should not be taken lightly, and set consequences for distracted driving. Consider suspending their privileges to drive or taking away the keys if they break a distraction rule you’ve set. Beyond the rules in your own household, make your teen aware of the penalties for distracted driving in your state. Restricting the number of passengers your teen can have in the vehicle, or the hours your teen is allowed drive, is also an effective way to minimize distraction for your teen driver.
  4. Teach them defensive driving skills. Earlier this month, we covered the importance of defensive driving. Teach your teen that by practicing defensive driving, they’re putting themselves in a proactive position rather than simply reacting to the potential hazards on the roads. For example, teach them to always try to look 15 seconds ahead to anticipate hazards. This practice of defensive driving reduces the likelihood of a collision, may reduce fuel consumption, and ensures a smooth ride for your teen and their passengers.

Teaching your teen safe driving tips is one of the most important things that you – as a parent – can do for your child. You’ve been driving for years and the skill has become second-nature to you, but don’t forget that you were once a teenager and sat behind the wheel for the first time. Your teenager is nervous, a little scared, but most of all, excited – make sure they understand the importance of staying safe behind the wheel before handing them the keys to their freedom! Also, be sure to grab a free quote from Metromile to see how much you could be saving. We might end up being the best option for the newly-minted driver in your household. Be safe and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

Getting older is tough on everyone. With every passing year, the time seems to go by faster than ever. As we age, our driving abilities can become affected – which is dangerous for both ourselves and those on the road with us. Something that once seemed like second nature, like turning your head to look for oncoming traffic, suddenly become more difficult.

Safe-Driving-Tips-for-Seniors-

However, there are some tips to keep aging drivers on the road safely. Let’s dive in!

Safe Driving Tips for Older Drivers

    1. Take stock of your health. Make yourself a checklist and go down the list, one time at a time.

      1. Do you have any pain or stiffness? This may affect your ability to turn the wheel or look in the mirrors.
      2. Have you been diagnosed with any chronic conditions (i.e. diabetes, seizures, etc.)? A chronic condition may affect your safety on the road, so it’s best to discuss this with a doctor before continuing to get behind the wheel.
      3. Do you tire easily? Aging drivers may experience fatigue more often than younger drivers, which affects how long you’re able to drive.
      4. Do you feel stressed? Feeling stressed can affect other health conditions that may be present in aging drivers, such as heart disease. Again, it’s best to chat with your doctor about the best options for your health as you age.

    2. Schedule regular hearing and vision tests. Often times, the bodily systems that we once relied on every day begin to fail us as we age. Vision problems that affect seniors – such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration – make it difficult to see clearly and make it especially difficult to drive at night. Impaired hearing can affect your ability to hear oncoming traffic, such as emergency vehicles or trains. Check with your doctor on how often your vision and hearing should be evaluated, and be sure to stick to your doctor’s recommended schedule (even if you think you’re fine!).

    3. Stay active! Often times, keeping your body physically active is the best way to stave off the effects of aging. Staying active keeps your flexibility and strength at the top of its game and may allow you to continue to drive well into your older years. Walking is a great way to stay active, and incorporating stretching and strength training will also help keep your body in peak physical condition.

    4. Check your medications for side effects. If you’re managing a health condition with prescription medication, always be sure to read the label and check for side effects of the medication. If the prescription bottle states that you should not operate heavy machinery, do not drive (a car definitely counts as heavy machinery!). If the medication doesn’t list any warnings but you still feel as though your cognitive or physical abilities are affected, contact your doctor – they may advise you to find a different means of transportation while on the medication.

    5. Understand and acknowledge that you may have limitations. You can’t do everything you used to do when you were younger, and that’s okay. If you’re having difficulties with your current vehicle, look into swapping it for a vehicle that is more suited for your current needs. For example, if you find driving over potholes or speed bumps jarring, look for a vehicle with a softer suspension to make those a bit easier on you. Cars with larger, easier-to-see dials, odometers, etc. are also popular with older drivers. Additionally, many newer vehicles have built-in systems to help with changing lanes safely, parking, and backing up – all which can help an aging driver maintain their independence.

    6. Take a refresher course. You’ve been driving a long time – maybe you didn’t even take driver’s education and your parents or older sibling taught you how to drive one Saturday afternoon! Consider taking a refresher course for older drivers. It will help you stay on top of the current rules of the road, and you might even learn a thing or two! Look for courses available through a community education program or local organizations that serve seniors and older adults.

As we age, we also tend to start driving less frequently. If you’ve recently found that you are driving less, Metromile may be the perfect solution for you. Be sure to get a free quote today and find out how much you could be saving by switching to Metromile!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

Safety on the Road

Welcome to National Safety Month! Us Metromilers take safety pretty seriously. Did you know that in 2017 alone, more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes? Here at Metromile, we are determined to decrease that statistic and make our roads a safer place for everyone.

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The three most prevalent causes of fatalities on the road are speeding, drunk/drowsy driving, and distracted driving. If we all pitch in and do our part, we can reduce the amount of vehicle-related deaths. Let’s do it, Metromilers!

Speeding

First up, let’s address the number one cause of vehicle-related fatalities: speeding. Speeding is a danger to everyone on the road – not just the driver. In 2016 alone, speeding killed 10,111 people, which is a horrifying statistic to wrap our heads around. We get it – we’re all busy and usually running late to something, but going faster than the posted speed limit will only get you to your destination mere seconds before going the speed limit will. The speed limit is there to protect all road users and is not just another annoying policy to keep in mind when driving.

The consequences of speeding are more than just breaking the law – they can be deadly. When you speed, you have a greater potential for losing control of your vehicle. This leads to increased stopping distance if there’s a hazard in the road, and increased degree of severity in the event of a crash.

As a driver on the road, there are things you can do to watch your own speeds and ensure that you are not a danger to yourself or others. Pay attention to posted speed limits and abide by them. Avoid driving aggressively and be courteous of other drivers and road users. If you anticipate traffic on the way to your destination, try to leave a little bit earlier to alleviate stress associated with running late. If you’re already going to be late, speeding is not going to change that fact! Arriving two minutes earlier won’t matter if you’re already arriving late, so try not to stress.

As a member of your community, you can do your part to bring an end to speeding. Participate in a speed management program – NHTSA delivers a Speed Management Program course to State and local jurisdictions. The course uses a multidisciplinary approach to address speeding problems in states and local communities.

Impaired Driving

The second cause of vehicle-related fatalities: impaired driving. This includes driving while drunk, on drugs, or drowsy. This type of driving is entirely irresponsible and entirely preventable. In the United States alone, 29 people die every day from alcohol-impaired driving-related incidents.

If you’ve been drinking or taking drugs (some prescription medications count, too), never get behind the wheel. Always have a sober friend or a designated driver drive you, or Uber/Lyft your way home. Also, did you know that driving drowsy is just as bad as driving drunk? Being awake for 18 hours straight has the same effect on your brain as a blood alcohol level of .05 (for reference, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08). If you’ve been awake for a full 24 hours, the effect doubles – it has the same effect on your brain as a .10 blood alcohol level. If you’re feeling drowsy, always pull over and rest before getting back on the road – don’t try to chug coffee and speed to your destination to get there faster because it won’t work; the only true remedy for drowsiness is sleep.

Communities should come together to stand against impaired driving. It is especially important to make teens and new drivers aware of the dangers of impaired driving. Many teens do not get enough sleep at the same time that their biological need for sleep increases, thereby increasing the risk of drowsy driving accidents – especially on longer trips. Each November, the National Sleep Foundation conducts Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in an effort to reduce the number of drowsy driving crashes. Let’s do our part to reduce impaired driving – both drunk and drowsy. If everyone makes an effort, it will have a larger-scale impact on our communities!

Distracted Driving

We’ve all heard the statistics: every day in the US, 9 people are killed in a texting and driving related accident. That’s not a meaningless number – every single digit is a human life that was ended as a direct result of distracted driving. Texting is the number one distraction impairing drivers on the road today! Traveling at 55 mph, you can cover the length of an entire football field by taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. Let that sink in for a moment.

When you’re behind the wheel, you have one job: to get to your destination safely and without harming anyone else. In order to reduce the amount of people killed in distracted-driving related accidents, we all have to do our part. Never, ever text and drive! If you absolutely must respond to that chirping notification, pull over and put the car in park before even looking at your phone. In addition to texting, distracted driving can also mean updating or scrolling through social media, changing your Spotify playlist, or talking on the phone. Have your passenger help you by acting as the car DJ or posting to social for you; let’s find any way to limit the amount of distracted driving accidents! Also, check out our post here for more tips on reducing distracted driving.

By taking action and working together, we can all make the roads a safer place for everyone. From reducing your speed, to never getting behind the wheel impaired, to making it a personal policy that you never text and drive, every little bit counts. Let’s all do our part to drive safely – after all, we’re in this together! Don’t forget that you can always grab a free quote from Metromile to find out how much you could be saving on your car insurance. Be safe out there and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

Baby on Board: Driving Safe With Kids in the Car

Driving in and of itself can be stressful (think: road rage, traffic jams, and the frustration of finding a good soundtrack), but add a young passenger into the mix, and the open road can suddenly feel like a war zone.

Whether you’re running errands with an infant or tooling around town with a niece or nephew, it’s important to know the ways to maximize safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among kids in the United States: In 2015, 663 children ages 12 years and younger died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and nearly 132,000 were injured.

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Here are some tips for keeping kids protected in the car:

    1. Know the Car Seat Rules. Laws vary from state to state, but based on the latest research, infants and toddlers should always ride in rear-facing backseat carriers until they’re at least two years old or reach the height and weight allowed by the seat manufacturer, according to organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics. Once kids outgrow the rear-facing seat, they should then use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible (up to the highest weight or height indicated by the manufacturer). Never put a rear-facing seat in the front of the car — airbags can be deadly to young passengers.

    2. Buckle Up the Right Way. Once kids outgrow the forward-facing seats, it’s time to upgrade to a belt-positioning booster until the car’s seat belt fits properly (usually when a kid reaches 4 feet 9 inches and is over the age of five). When kids are big enough for the seat belt to properly fit their frame, lap and shoulder belts are a must, and kids under 13 should stay in the back seat (again, airbags can cause fatal injuries to young children). Buckling up is critical at every stage of life, and it’s an essential rule to implement at an early age: according to the organization Safe Kids Worldwide, only 53 percent of high school students reported always wearing a safety belt when riding with someone else.

    3. Eliminate All Distractions. This is seriously scary: one study found that 98 percent (!) of parents driving with a child report being preoccupied for nearly a third of the time they’re on the road. That’s no joke, especially when you consider the fact that distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,450 people in 2016 alone, according to the United States Department of Transportation (NHTSA). Put the phone far out of reach, familiarize yourself with the roads, and forget about primping in the rearview or snacking until you’re safely parked.

    4. Pull Over To Deal With Must-Dos. Kids get fussy — it happens. But according to a poll from American Baby in partnership with Safe Kids Worldwide, 55 percent of moms admit to driving above the speed limit in order to make it to daycare or to get home with their crying baby faster. Speeding up and driving hastily is only going to increase your risk for an accident. It’s better to pull over to deal with a mood meltdown and run late than push your luck by accelerating over the limit.

    5. Always Stay Close. Leaving kids in the car is always a bad idea, even if you’re just running out for a quick minute. Children die every year from heatstroke — many of whom were left unattended in cars. Allowing children to play near a parked car should be a no-go too. If you’re backing out of the driveway, always take the time to circle your vehicle and make sure no children are in the vicinity and at risk of being hit.

Another important way to protect the whole family is to find a car insurance company that has your back. Visit metromile.com for a free quote today.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

20 Tips for Becoming a Safer Driver

Safe Driving is the first step in preventing accidents on the road. June is National Safety Month and to celebrate we will be advocating all month long for driving safety. This month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, in our homes and communities, and on the road. Vehicle safety is more important than ever since statistics are showing that auto accidents are on the rise. We understand that there are more distractions than ever while driving these days; the map on your car’s dashboard won’t work, the kids are screaming in the backseat, and your cell phone is buzzing, but it is your responsibility when you get behind a wheel to ensure your and others safety.

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Here are 20 Actions You Can Take to Become A Safer Driver:

    1. Focus on driving. Keep your attention and eyes on the road at all times. No-multi-tasking while driving, put all the distractions away and focus on what is happening around you.

    2. Plan Ahead. Everyone is always running late which can cause high speeds and distracted driving. Wake up a little bit earlier so you can leave for your commute a few minutes earlier. Doing so will help you slow down. Give yourself some extra time in case there are accidents on your route, or you need to stop for gas along the way.

    3. In the case of an accident, focus your eyes on where to go. When spinning out of control, focus your eyes on where you want your car to be rather than the object that it might hit. Because of hand-eye coordination, if your eyes are looking right then, your vehicle will also go right.

    4. Maintain control when tires blow out. Try your best to keep the car driving in a straight line and slow your speed. Have two hands on the wheel and pull over to a safe place when able. Don’t slam on the brakes or try to speed during this time, it can cause worse damage to your tire and can make maintaining control harder.

    5. Go the speed limit. It seems pretty simple, but the speed limit signs are there for a reason; to protect you and others on the road. If you are speeding more damage can be caused when an accident does occur. Remember: it is okay to maintain the correct speed limit and let others pass by you.

    6. Get your road rage under control. Road rage can cause unnecessary aggressive driving. Take a deep breath and cool down before taking out your anger on the road or other vehicles/drivers around you.

    7. Watch the weather. During inclement weather, drive at slower speeds to avoid skidding on ice or hydroplaning. Turn your lights on day or night when it is raining or if there is fog. Remember: when the weather is terrible, go easy on the brakes to maintain better control over your vehicle.

    8. Look both ways at an intersection. It only takes a few seconds to look both ways before going again after the light turns green. Before you cross, take a quick peak left and right to be sure that no other cars are coming through the intersection.

    9. Keep your distance. No one likes a tailgater. The rule of thumb is to be three seconds apart from the car in front of you. Double that amount if there happens to be bad weather. Don’t underestimate the amount of stopping distance you need between yourself and the car in front of you.

    10. Grip the steering wheel correctly. Keep your hands at 10 and 2. Keeping a good grip on the wheel is helpful when avoiding hazards on the road.

    11. Stay alert and awake. If you do find yourself feeling sleepy, the best thing to do is pull over and take a short nap. If you recognize you are too tired before you drive then it is best to stay home and avoid being behind the wheel at all. If you can’t avoid driving, think about opening a window to feel the breeze or singing along to a song to help keep you alert.

    12. Wear your seatbelt the right way. Make sure the lap and shoulder belt is snug and that you are wearing the lap part of the seatbelt on your hips. Seatbelts are there to protect you and others from being thrown from the car if an accident happens. Wearing it saves lives, so just do it.

    13. Pay attention to the flow of traffic. Sometimes signs are helpful, but just because a light or a sign is saying you have the right away, doesn’t always mean that is what is actually happening. Focus on the traffic flow and what other drivers are doing too.

    14. Pick the right music station. Calming music can help keep you calm on the road. But intense music can distract you and not keep you as focused as you should be. Fiddling with your radio station or music is extremely distracting while driving, so be sure to set your tunes before you start your trip.

    15. Look as far ahead as you can. You should try and focus your eyes past the first few cars in front of you. Doing so will keep you prepared for what is ahead.

    16. Keep your headlights on. Driving with your lights on during the day can help others be more aware of you on the road.

    17. Use your parking brake more. If you don’t use it regularly, your parking brake can stop working correctly. Parking breaks prevent your call from rolling when parked on an incline. They can also act as an emergency brake if your regular brakes stop working.

    18. Don’t break during a tire blow out. If you lay on the brakes when you have a tire blow out, it can potentially cause your car to flip into another vehicle or median. Do the opposite of what you think, hit the gas slightly and try to stay as straight as possible.

    19. No Drinking and Driving. Although this seems like it should be common sense, there are many people out there that do decide to get behind the wheel after they have had one too many drinks. Do yourself and all of us a favor and call a rideshare or cab.

    20. Put your phone away. Our phones are one of the biggest distractions when it comes to driving. Newer phones have the drive mode feature, where it will answer a text from a friend back saying that you are driving right now. The best way to avoid looking at your phone is putting it out of sight.

Follow the rules of the road and be courteous to other drivers. No distraction is worth a car crash or a life. June may be National Safety Month, but safety should be practiced 24/7 while driving. Here at Metromile, we want you to be safe on the road whenever possible. If you find that you don’t drive much or that you are spending less time on the road, then pay-per-mile auto insurance could be an excellent fit for you. Get a fast and free quote today!

Kelsey Glynn is a blogger and owner of Social Graces, a business to support others in their social media needs. She is a contributing blog writer for East Valley Moms Blog, a social media content creator, and an avid photo taker. She is Metromile’s Senior Social Media Advocate and helps to maintain our online communities. You can catch her adventuring around AZ and living the mom life on Instagram.

Why Defensive Driving Matters

One crucial thing all new drivers learn in their first year on the road: you cannot control what other drivers are going to do. However, as time goes on, many people don’t retain these skills and simply become reactionary on the road. After your years of white-knuckling the wheel have passed you by, defensive driving still holds true – and it is just as important as that first day you sat in the driver’s seat.

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Defensive driving matters. By practicing defensive driving, you’re putting yourself in a proactive position rather than simply reacting to the potential hazards on the roads. You are putting yourself and the other drivers and passengers around you in a safer position by constantly retaining awareness of your surroundings. For example, always try to look 15 seconds ahead to anticipate hazards. This practice of defensive driving reduces the likelihood of a collision, may reduce fuel consumption, and ensures a smooth ride for you and your passengers (anyone who gets car sick knows this is very important).

So, what can you do to ensure you are driving defensively? Let’s throw it all the way back to driver’s ed. Here are our best tips for defensive driving, Metromilers.

Our Best Defensive Driving Tips

    1. Maintain a 3-second gap between you and the car in front of you. You never know when someone is going to slam on their brakes!
    2. Always use your turn signal; signal early and signal often. This is especially important when changing lanes, because the other drivers on the road can’t read your mind and are focused on staying in their own lane! Also, try to minimize lane changes, if possible.
    3. Know where you want to go. If you’re confused and lost, there’s no doubt that the other drivers around you on the road are feeling your confusion. Sudden braking, speeding up, and sudden lane changes or turns are a recipe for disaster. The worst thing you can do is drive around aimlessly. If you’re lost or turned around, pull over and figure out your route before getting back on the road.
    4. When you’re following behind someone, look through their windshield at the car in front of them. This will give you even more of an opportunity to brake slowly if traffic suddenly slows or stops.
    5. Be courteous of others. If someone is trying to merge, slow down to let them in instead of speeding past.
    6. Do not drive if you’re feeling tired, angry, or upset. These feelings and emotions affect your decision-making process and may make you less aware or cognizant of others on the road.

Remember: until self-driving cars are a reality, behind every wheel is another human who can make mistakes. A defensive driver does not solely focus on their actions, but anticipates the actions of others on the road. As always, we’re here if you have questions about your current policy or are thinking of making the switch to Metromile! Be safe, drive defensively, and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram