When it comes to winter holiday travel, airports and flying get a lot of the attention. But the majority of people who travel during the winter holidays pack up the car and drive to their destinations.
Before starting the journey, drivers should do some car maintenance and check on state laws that might change the way they drive, AAA says.
Here are some tips to help you hit the road:
Get all your basic maintenance done
AAA suggests giving yourself a week to:
— Check tire pressure and tread depth — Replace wiper blades — Fill the windshield washer reservoir — Test the battery
Even if you’re already behind on your to-do list, now is the time to take care of it. Don’t leave home without an oil change or brake check, too, if you’ve been putting those off.
Make an emergency road kit
According to AAA, a winter emergency kit should include a first aid kit, jumper cables, an ice scraper and snow brush. You should also carry:
— Sand, cat litter or traction mats — Small shovel — Gloves, hats and blankets — Flashlights with fresh batteries and warning flares or triangles — Shop rags or paper towels — Drinking water and nonperishable snack bars — Warm clothes — Basic hand tools — Chargers for your phone
Map your route
Know how you’re going to get to your destination and have an alternative route in mind, AAA advises. Be prepared for busy roads. Check your smartphone app for heavy traffic ahead. If possible, leave really early in the morning or really late in the evening when traffic is generally lighter.
Check on the weather
Know what kind of conditions you might be driving through, not just the weather at your home and your destination. You may be going through mountain passes between your starting and stopping points.
Take a few minutes to check current weather conditions and forecasts with CNN Weather or your favorite weather site or app.
Brush up on your winter driving techniques
Increase your regular following distance. Rather than three to four seconds, make it eight to 10. Avoid skids by applying the gas slowly to accelerate. Above all, be patient and don’t let yourself get distracted, AAA advises.
Secure your valuables
The holidays are prime time for thieves, and a vehicle full of items in plain view will attract them. Don’t make yourself a tempting target; keep your valuables and wrapped Christmas presents in the trunk or a covered storage area.
Keep the kids busy and safe
Use books, games, DVDs — whatever will keep the kids comfortable and stop them from distracting the driver. Remember, they will need snacks and will need to make stops, so be prepared to spend more time on the road if you’re traveling with children.
And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds guardians to buckle children in the vehicle using safety seats, booster seats or seat belts depending on their height, weight and age.
Take a break every two hours or 100 miles
Adults need to stop, too. Breaking up the drive periodically will keep you more alert while you’re on the road, Green said, which will help you arrive for Thanksgiving dinner in one piece.
The world’s first car accident occurred in 1891 and involved 2 Ohioans and a tree, but the world’s first car insurance policy wasn’t written until 1897. That means for 6 (doubtlessly crazy) years, people were driving hither and yon in their fancy new horseless carriages without a drop of coverage. Compound that with the fact that safety measures like stop signs, right-of-way, and driver training had not yet been invented, and you can begin to imagine the chaos of a world sans car insurance.
It’s not like the idea of insurance didn’t exist. As a concept, insurance had begun long, long before then. But perhaps more than anything, the mass production of the automobile in the early 20th century helped to revolutionize the industry — making it as standard today as that requisite new-car smell.
Legends, licensing, and liability
Since cars first started rolling off Ford’s legendary assembly line in 1903, we’ve been driving them, decorating them, sleeping in them, and, yes, crashing them. But while more and more cars were hitting the road, early drivers were hitting trees, wagons, horses, and inevitably, each other as well.
In 1930, roughly 110 people were killed per day in car accidents. In 2000, with nearly twice the national population, fatalities per day increased by only 4 to 114. That’s approximately 10 times more fatalities per registered vehicle back in 1930.
And while this figure is staggering, it’s not altogether surprising if you consider that most drivers in the early days were untested and virtually untrained. Back then, they didn’t have driving schools, driver tests, or driver licensing laws any more than we have hovercar training today. Massachusetts and Missouri were the first to establish driver licensing laws in 1903, but Missouri had no actual driver exam law until 1952.
In the early days, instead of standing in line for 2 hours at the DMV and taking numerous tests just to wait several weeks for your license to arrive, you could simply walk into your local licensing office, plunk down 50 cents (or so), and walk away the proud owner of a driver’s license. Almost as easy as getting one from a Cracker Jack® box.
But as we know all too well, simply having a license doesn’t necessarily make you a good driver. And imagine what the roads must have been like at the turn of the last century. The combination of amateur drivers and unpaved, unmonitored roads proved tragic and highlighted the rapidly growing need for liability insurance.
Liability Required (mostly)
In 1927, Massachusetts became the first state to make liability insurance required by law. By the 1940s, with the end of WWII and a subsequent surge in automobile production, most states had passed similar laws. Today, New Hampshire remains the only state in the union without compulsory liability laws. (The whole “Live Free or Die” thing.)
If you are looking for the lowest prices, there are some guidelines worth following as you do your research. Here are 8 ways to get the cheapest auto insurance.
1. Don’t assume any one company is the cheapest
Some companies spend a lot of money on commercials, trying to convince you that they offer the lowest car insurance rates.
The truth is that prices individuals will pay for the same coverage at the same company vary widely, and no single company can claim to be the low-price leader. The insurance company that’s cheapest for one person in one place might be the most expensive option for another driver. Some insurance companies have also developed complex predictive models that may charge you higher rates if they show you are unlikely to switch providers. Your best bet is to get quotes from different companies, including independent agencies, and compare for the best.
2. Don’t ignore local and regional insurance companies
Just four companies control nearly half the nation’s car insurance business: Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm. But smaller, regional insurers, such as Able Insurance, often have higher customer satisfaction ratings than the big names and they deliver great lower rates, too.
3. Check for discounts
Insurers provide a variety of discounts, including price breaks for customers who:
Bundle car insurance with other policies, such as homeowners insurance
Insure multiple cars with one policy
Have a clean driving record
Pay their entire annual or six-month premium at once
Agree to receive documents online
Own a car with certain anti-theft or safety features
Are members of particular professional organizations or affiliate groups
4. Pay your bills on time — and not just your insurance bills
Your credit is a significant factor in the car insurance quotes you’ll receive. Insurance companies say that customers’ credit has been shown to correlate with their risk of filing a claim. Improve your credit — and lower your premiums — by paying your bills on time and reducing your debt. Track your progress by checking your credit reports at least once per year.
You probably already pay attention to factors such as fuel efficiency and repair costs when deciding which car to buy, but you should also consider insurance premiums, which can vary between popular models. On a review of rates for best-selling vehicles in 25 cities found that the Toyota Camry, for example, cost an average of $187 per year more to insure than the comparable Honda Accord. Similarly, a Toyota RAV4 cost an average of $201 more to insure than a Honda CR-V.
6. Skip collision and comprehensive coverage for your clunker
Collision coverage pays to repair damage your vehicle receives in an accident involving another car or an inanimate object. Comprehensive pays to repair vehicle damage caused by weather, animals or vandalism, or reimburses you for your car if its stolen. But both will only pay up to the value of your car. If yours older and has a low market value, it may not make sense to shell out for the two policies.
7. Consider raising your deductible
If you need to carry comprehensive and collision — because your car is a later model or your lender requires it — you can save a substantial amount of money by raising the deductibles. A NerdWallet study of rates in Florida and California found that customers who increased their deductibles from $500 to $1,000 saved about $200 per year on premiums, while those who increased them from $500 to $2,000 saved $362 per year. Keep in mind that this will mean you’ll pay more out of pocket if you do make a claim.
8. Consider usage-based plans, especially if you don’t drive much
If you’re a safe driver who doesn’t log very many miles, consider a usage-based insurance program. By signing up for these programs, you allow your insurer to track your driving electronically in exchange for possible discounts, based on how much you drive, when you drive and how well you drive.
Able Insurance is always here to help you make the best decisions based on your individual needs, current situation, and long-term goals. If you’re looking for affordable term coverage for temporary needs, or a permanent policy, we can help with solutions that meet your needs and budget. No matter where you are in life, one thing is certain: if someone depends on you financially, you need life insurance.
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Combining homeowners or renters insurance with an auto insurance policy can provide you with big savings, thanks to our multi-product discount. Just contact us and let us know what you're looking for and we'll try to save you lots of money!
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