The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

The following is a guest post from Scott Huntington, who writes about driving, cars, and more on his blog Off The Throttle and all over the internet. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.

You may feel safe on long car trips because you’re a careful driver, but don’t overlook the dangers of drowsy driving. It causes 7% of all crashes in the U.S. and is responsible for more than 20% of fatal vehicle crashes nationwide every year.

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Drivers who only sleep four to five hours can be as impaired as people who are legally drunk. Even drivers who only get slightly less sleep — one to two hours — have double the risk of crashing than someone who has the required eight hours. There are many reasons that people become drowsy drivers. They may be unable to get sufficient sleep, operate under a chronic sleep debt or having demanding jobs that require them to do activities that lead to fragmented or insufficient sleep.

What can you do if you feel drowsy while driving? First, pull over and take a nap. Even 15 to 20 minutes’ worth of sleep can refresh you enough to make your driving safer. Second, drink two cups of coffee. Caffeine does work to some degree! Wait one-half hour and then resume driving.

When you drive distances of 100 miles or more, take a break every two hours. The breaks will refresh you and keep you alert.

If possible, treat drowsy drivers as you would drunk drivers. Don’t let people who’ve had only a few hours of sleep drive. Call a taxi or ride service, or else have a family member or friend drive them. Appoint a designated driver if you’re expecting a lack of sleep due to a party. This goes double if you plan on drinking.

Above all, awareness is key. If poor habits are the cause of your lack of sleep, make every effort to correct them. Drowsy driving is dangerous, so make every effort to get a good night’s sleep to prevent accidents. If you must drive, take a nap. Make the roads safer for all of us.

5 Safety Tips for Driving in the Dark

Daylight Savings is over, and while that extra hour of sleep was much appreciated, we now face the dreaded dwindling daylight. If you drive to work this likely means a darker commute in the evening. Driving in the dark presents increased dangers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association warns that road fatalities are three times more likely to happen at night. Familiarize yourself with these tips to stay safe during these “darker times.”

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  1. Light the Way
    During the hours before dusk, you’ll often notice a mix of cars using their headlights while others keep them off. When in doubt, turn on your lights. Even if you don’t absolutely need them at this time, it will help other drivers spot you, especially if the sun is setting behind you and obscuring the view of oncoming traffic. In some states like California, it is legally required to have headlights on from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise.
  2. Dim Your Dash
    There’s a reason why your dashboard has a dimmer on it. Driving around with your dash lights on max can compromise your vision, so turn them down to a comfortable level. In general, your map light should be kept totally off while driving, although luxury cars often come equipped with focused reading lights that do not cause glare.
  3. Keep It Clean
    A windshield that appears clean during the day may reveal itself to be foggy at night. Keep a cotton or microfiber cloth in your door pocket for quick touch-ups to ensure full visibility. The same goes for your side view mirrors, as dirty mirrors can cause more glare from car lights behind you. You can also aim these mirrors down slightly to prevent high beams from temporarily blinding your vision. It’s also important to keep your headlights clean so their brightness and clarity remain high. If a headlight burns out, replace it as soon as possible, as it’s often illegal to drive without proper working headlights.
  4. Slow Down
    Visibility is much lower at night, even on well-lit roads. This means it takes longer to see and react to hazards, like pedestrians, cyclists or even animals in more rural areas. Drive slower and give yourself plenty of time to react to any problems, and never “out-drive” your headlights (driving so fast that you can’t stop within the distance illuminated in front of you).
  5. Stay Focused
    Eye fatigue is much more common at night, and you might feel yourself dozing off after a long day at the office. To stay focused, try to keep your eyes moving and constantly scanning the road. Avoid solely focusing on the dividing line in the middle of the road, which can have a “hypnotizing” effect.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be prepared for the long winter (and shorter days) ahead of us. You can also avoid driving at night by taking public transit, so if you find yourself driving less in the winter months, check out Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance to save some money.

Tips for a Drama Free Valet

Picture this: you’ve cruised around the block a few times looking for parking, but you’re going to be late for your dinner reservation if you don’t park your car soon. You notice a parking valet but have no idea what to do. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone, which is why we’ve compiled some tips for you to get through valet parking drama free. Often times, especially in larger cities, valet parking can be faster and more affordable than street parking or parking in a parking garage.

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Tip in cash. Many people avoid valet parking because they’re unsure of how much to tip. Even if the hotel or restaurant you’re at offers complimentary valet service, have cash on hand for a tip. It’s expected you tip the valet that retrieves your car but you’re entrusting your vehicle with a stranger so leave the valet who takes your car at drop off an unexpected tip as well. If they feel they’ve been treated well, they’re likely to take better care of your items. $2-$5 is pretty standard so expect to tip $4-$10 total for valet parking.
Tidy up and tuck away valuables. Anticipate that you might end up valet parking and clean your car up a little bit so that you’re not embarrassed to hand over the keys. If you have valuables in the car, leave them at home, or tuck them in the trunk or out of sight. Make sure you have everything you’re going to need before you get out of the car!
Know how to handle the drop-off. Drop off and pick up moves quickly, so pay attention to the valet instructions and drive safely and slowly. Leave the car running and don’t take your keys out of the ignition. Let the valet know if there are any problems with the car and confirm price, closing time and how to get your car back. Lastly, don’t leave your car until you’ve been given a claim ticket!
Pick up and pay. It can take 10-20 minutes for the valet to get your vehicle. Always consider calling ahead, especially if you’re at a hotel or a busy restaurant or if you have to be somewhere at a specific time. When you’re ready to leave, find the valet stand and pay your bill. Sometimes hotels will charge your room bill but the head valet will confirm. If it’s complimentary, just don’t forget to tip for service!
Check for damage. In the rush to leave, don’t forget to check for damage or missing valuables before you drive away! If you see any damage or notice any lost items, let the head valet know immediately. Most valet companies will cover these situations but it’s much harder to get compensation if you don’t notice until you are home.

Having trouble finding your car or want to check in to see where it’s parked? Use Metromile’s car location tracker to find your car. Metromile’s smart driving app gives you information on trips and trends, fuel levels, car health diagnoses and more, and is free for all of our pay-per-mile insurance customers. Learn more here!

Your Car’s Been Towed. Now What?

If your car is missing, you’ll want to think through all of the possibilities. Are you sure this is where you left your car? Could it have been stolen? Was it towed? Follow these steps to get your car back as soon as possible.

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Where’s my car? Check your surroundings for restricted parking signs or indicators that your car may have been towed. If you think you were unfairly towed, be sure to take pictures of the signs. If the signs indicate no parking with a phone number listed, try that number first. If not, try calling the local police department or visit their website.

Some reasons your car could have been towed are blocking a fire hydrant, parking in a “red zone” or “tow zone”, parking in a handicap spot or having unpaid parking violations.

What you’ll need: Once you have located your car, you’ll want to pick it up as soon as possible. Typically, you’ll be responsible for the towing and storage fees, so you don’t want to leave your car there for too long. When you go pick up your car, be sure to bring your driver license, a copy of registration and insurance. You’ll also want to take cash, just in case the lot doesn’t accept credit cards or checks.

Ask questions: Make sure to understand why your car was towed, and read the paperwork you have to sign thoroughly.

Metromile pay-per-mile customers have access to tracking their car’s location and can view it via their Metromile smart driving app. If you’re interested in the smart driving features that are part of Metromile insurance, get a free quote here.

Car Insurance for Newlyweds

It’s wedding season! As couples everywhere tie the knot, they begin to combine their things: their space, their finances, their names, their car insurance. Here are some things to consider when combining car insurance.

joint car insurance

Consider all your options: Chances are, you and your husband may feel some loyalty to the insurance you were already using. Weigh your options for both insurance companies, and check out a few other insurance companies. Get a quotes on adding your significant other to your insurance. Some companies offer discounts for married couples, while others may offer breaks for multiple cars or safe driving records. You’ll want to be sure you are looking at the full picture.

Consider per-mile insurance: If you don’t drive a lot, pay-per-mile insurance could be a great fit for you and your partner. Low mileage drivers save on average $500 a year! You’ll also turn your car into a smart car with our driving app – where you can check your bill, learn about your trips and driving trends, and even diagnose check engine lights. Interested? Get a free quote here.

Consider your coverage: Do you need comprehensive and collision, or just liability? Not sure? Comprehensive coverage covers all incidents that aren’t considered “accidents” like weather or vandalism damage. Collision coverages covers your vehicle in the event of damage due to an accident. Liability insurance doesn’t cover your car, but covers damage to another person resulting in an accident you cause. Learn more about making the right coverage decision.

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Road trip Inspiration: Beautiful Roads

When it comes to a summer road trip, it’s not just about the destination – it’s how you get there. From the original purple mountain majesties to towering skyscrapers, there are many roads worth traveling. Some of our favorites are listed here.

summer road trip

Avenue of the Giants: This 31 mile stretch of California 101 will take you right through the biggest trees in the world: the giant redwoods! Pro tip: Check out Hipcamp for a cool spot to stay overnight in the redwoods.

Bluebonnet trail: Nestled between Austin and Houston is the Bluebonnet trail, covered in wildflowers. Pro tip: Visit between March and May, when the bluebonnets are in full bloom.

The Road to Hana: The road to Hana is a 52 mile drive on the island of Maui from Kahului to Hana down winding roads and passing roadside fruit stands through tall trees and cliffside views. Pro tip: Once you reach Hana, grab lunch at Bruddah Hut BBQ. You won’t regret it.

Lake Shore Drive: With breath-taking views of Lake Michigan and towering skyscrapers, this is a must-drive if you’re taking a trip to Chicago. You’ll drive right past Soldier Field, Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo and more. Pro tip: Stop for a famous Chicago hot dog (all the condiments, please!) or a deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s.

Blue Ridge Parkway connects Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive with the Great Smoky Mountains. With beautiful sunsets and mountain backgrounds, your jaw will hit the floor. Pro tip: Check out the Humpback rocks at the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

If you find yourself mostly using your car for weekend trips, you could really benefit from Metromile pay-per-mile insurance. Metromile offers a road trip bonus, so you won’t be charged for any miles you drive above 250/day (150/day in certain states). Get a free quote here. Safe travels!

Avoiding Common City Parking Pitfalls

Circling block after block, being cut off for the spot you were waiting for, and finally paying $20 for a parking spot in a lot…we’ve all been there. Parking in the city isn’t for the faint of heart. However, digital advances have made city parking a little easier.

city parking

Hey, that’s my spot! Hoping to snag a spot on the cheap? SpotHero and ParkWhiz allow you to book a parking spot at a discount in advance, so you won’t have to circle the block or fight another car for a spot.

Two words: street sweeping. Honestly, who can keep track of where their car needs to be parked (or not parked) on a daily basis? The last thing you want to do when you get home from work is check the street signs and set an alarm on your phone to move your car in 23 hours. In Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, Metromile pay-per-mile car insurance customers receive street sweeping alerts to their smartphone, so they can avoid pesky tickets or worse, having their car towed.

Anyone have change? Stop looking under your seats for spare change to feed the meter. You can now pay the meter using an app like Parkmobile or PayByPhone.

Find your car. Parking in the city can mean a different spot each night. Trouble remembering where you last parked? Use Metromile’s car location tracker to find your car, and get walking instructions to get there! It’s even been used to recover stolen cars (knock on wood).

With Metromile’s pay-per-mile car insurance, not only can you find your car and get street sweeping alerts, you can also get the low-down on your trips and trends, fuel levels, car health and more. Plus, you could save a ton of money on car insurance! Get a free quote here.

Four Tips for Summer Road Trips

Summer is here, and adventure is calling your name. Whether you are celebrating 100 years of National Parks with a road trip to the Grand Canyon, heading to the beach to relax or driving to see your family, get to your destination easily with these trip tips.

summer road trip

Road trip ready: Make sure your car maintenance is up-to-date. You’ll want to check your tires (including your spare!) to ensure they look ready for a road trip – no bumps or bulges. You’ll also want to get an oil change if needed, and top off your washer fluid. If you have any concerns, swing by a mechanic who can give you the go-ahead for a road trip.

Survive & thrive: Pack your car with your favorite snacks, and throw in a car charger, extra keys, basic tools, and a first aid kit. Make sure you’ve got your license, registration, and insurance handy.

Let’s get digital: Arm your phone with these apps to make the most of your trip:

  • Airbnb: Find an apartment, cabin, or treehouse to stay in.
  • Roadtrippers: Locate unique roadside stops along your route.
  • Podcasts: Are you sick of listening to the top 50 on the radio? Tune into a podcast – you’ll be hooked!

Smart Car, Smart Trip: Metomile pay-per-mile insurance customers all have a smart car with the Metromile app. When on the road, the last thing you need to worry about is that pesky check engine light means. With Metromile, you can get a diagnosis of your car’s running condition, and if there are any issues, you can reach our in-house mechanic with the press of a button.

If you find yourself mostly using your car for road trips, you could benefit from Metromile pay-per-mile insurance. We even offer a road trip bonus! You won’t be charged for the miles you drive above 250 per day (150 in certain states). Get a free quote here. Safe travels!

Spending & Saving in the City

From new pop-up stores and great nightlife to job opportunities and historical landmarks, city living is exciting and exhilarating on a day-to-day basis. However, it can also be very expensive. Here are some easy ways you can save money, so you can enjoy city living without breaking the bank!

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Create a budget. This may seem obvious, but take some time to look at your take-home pay and monthly expenses. By using a software like Mint, you can create savings goals, categorize expenses, and receive custom alerts when you are close to overspending.

Take public transportation, or opt into a bike-share service. The less you drive your car, the more you’ll save money on gas and car maintenance. If you switch to pay-per-mile insurance, you could save even more money because your bill is based on how much you drive. Read more here.

Walk to your local farmers’ market. Since farmers have more stock of in-season fruits and vegetables, they are able to sell them at a lower price. Bonus tip: if you prefer to buy organic, it’s often cheaper at a farmers’ market than at a grocery store.

Eat in (sometimes). Okay, okay. We know it’s fun to try the trendy new restaurants. You can still budget for a weekly dinner splurge, but spend more time in your kitchen. Plus, leftovers make a great lunch the next day!

Automate savings. Have your bank automatically move cash into your savings on payday. You won’t know it’s not there, so you won’t miss it!

Side hustle. With so many new modern conveniences and resource sharing services, you can side hustle on your time with ridesharing, dog walking, house cleaning and more. Or if you’re crafty, try your hand at selling your art on Etsy.

If you are interesting in saving on car insurance, Metromile could save you $500/year! Try getting a quote to see how much you could save.

How to Reduce Your Car’s Carbon Footprint

You probably already know that driving a car is not great for the environment. In fact, the EPA estimates that transportation is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gas. But for many of us, driving is a necessity and the most convenient way to get around. We totally get it, and luckily there are a few things you can do to reduce your car’s carbon footprint tire marks.

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Follow the rules
Maintaining a steady speed doesn’t just help you avoid speeding tickets, it also helps you save on gas. Avoid sudden acceleration or deceleration, and use cruise control on the highway to keep your speed constant. Make sure to turn off your vehicle whenever you are parked — idling can waste a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour.

Keep your car healthy
This is something you’ll already want to do to maintain the value of your car and avoid any unnecessary repairs, but keeping your car healthy also helps reduce carbon emissions. Keep your tires properly inflated to improve your gas mileage by up to 3%. Make sure your engine is tuned, as some maintenance fixes (like fixing faulty oxygen sensors) can increase fuel efficiency by up to 40%.

Try a hybrid
If you are in the market for a new car, consider buying a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle. Even better, purchase a used fuel-efficient vehicle. These eco-friendly alternatives will not only save you money on gas, but also emit fewer carbon emissions. Here’s a list of what Kelly Blue Book considers the best fuel-efficient cars for under $25k.

Find a carpool
Did you know that a solo drive to work costs an average of $5,000 a year and that many people spend 250 hours alone in a car? Carpooling can be a great way to save thousands on tolls and gas, and also reduces your carbon footprint. Check out some of our favorite tips for finding a work carpool.

Switch to pay-per-mile insurance
If you find yourself driving less and carpooling/biking/taking the bus more, you could save a lot of money by switching to pay-per-mile insurance. We found that after customers switch to per-mile insurance, they reduce their driving by 6%. Not only does this mean a reduced bill, but if everyone reduced their driving by this amount, there would be 60 million metric tons less of carbon emissions emitted. Try getting a quick quote to see how much you could save!