Florida Roads Dangerous When Wet – Precautions and Tips to Follow

If you have lived in Florida any length of time, you know about those sudden afternoon showers.  The days can be very hot. The roads had been polished and smooth by the oil spots on the road. The rain blends with the oil and rubber-dust deposits and it becomes a recipe for disaster. The intersections can be very dangerous spots where cars stop and start frequently. It takes a while for these areas to be saturated and be washed off the road.

Before you get on the road, here are some precautions to follow in addition to regular auto maintenance:

  1. Check tire tread as well as tire pressure.
  2. Wipers should be replaced at least once a year.
  3. Every car should have a good emergency kit.

While driving in rain, here are some helpful tips to avoid dangerous situations:

  1. Turn on headlights even if not raining heavy. Daytime running lights are also helpful.
  2. Adjust your speed to the wet roads. Don’t expect to go the same speed on roads that you would normally travel.  If it is raining don’t rush and allow for longer driving time if you need to be somewhere.
  3. Defog windows when needed.
  4. Stay toward middle lanes due to water pools in the outside lanes. If the water is deeper than the bottom of the door, find another route.
  5. When driving through water, drive slowly and break softly. After the puddle slowly tap breaks to help dry off pads.
  6. Drive in the tracks of the vehicles in front of you however do not follow too closely to trucks and buses that may spray more water in your line of vision.
  7. If unable to see the road or what is in front of you, you should pull over and wait for the rain to subside.

What to do if car starts to hydroplane or skid:

  1. If hydroplaning don’t brake suddenly or turn the wheel. This can cause you to go into a skid. Let off the gas slowly and try to steer straight. If braking is necessary, pump the brakes lightly (unless you have anti-lock brakes you can brake normally). Wait until you can feel the wheel on the road again.
  2. If you do start to go into a spin, don’t’ panic, take foot off gas slowly and steer the car in the direction you want to go. You may have to turn the wheel several times to keep the vehicle in a straight line. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, avoid braking. If you do have anti-lock brakes, break firmly as you steer into the spin.

In heavy rains the best way to remain safe of the roads is to avoid driving during the worst of the downpour. However, if driving is necessary, please use good judgment and the precautions and tips above to stay safe on the roads.

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Driver’s Excuses For Using Cellphone When Driving.

 Many states have adopted laws that prevent cellphone use while operating a vehicle. It is a distraction that has caused many insurance claims and unfortunately lives. While it is not a law currently in Florida, it is highly discouraged by law enforcement officers.

Check out the list below and see if you have used any of these excuses or if there are other ones that you use.

Here are the top 10 excuses the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia compiled of local drivers who were caught using handheld phone devices while driving:

1. This is a bogus law.

2. It was my boss on the phone – I had to answer it.

3. I wasn’t using it – I just like to hold it.

4. Sorry officer, I didn’t see you trying to pull me over because I was on my phone.

5. But it was an emergency call to my wedding planner.

6. My Bluetooth died.

7. Driver: I’m using my speakerphone. Police officer: No, you’re holding your phone in one hand and steering with the other.

8. I’m not driving; I was stopped at a red light.

9. I wasn’t talking, I was checking my messages.

10. I was just checking the time.

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Pet Injury Coverage

With Progressive’s  Pet Injury coverage, your auto, boat, RV and now commercial policies protect your dogs or cats too.

What is Pet Injury Coverage?

Pet Injury coverage comes complimentary with Collision coverage, and if your customers’ dog or cat is injured in an accident while riding with them, Progressive will pay up to $1000 to help with veterinary bills and medicine.
Currently, Pet Injury coverage is not available in North Carolina and New Hampshire.

When Can Pet Injury Coverage Be Used?

Pet Injury coverage can be used whenever a pet is injured during a claim covered by Collision or Comprehensive coverage. This coverage is available for pets riding in the car and owned by your customer or his/her relatives.

Pet Injury coverage is built into Collision coverage – there’s no added cost if the customer chooses to use it or not use it. Collision coverage must be included on at least one covered vehicle on the policy to receive Pet Injury coverage.

 

Coverage Highlights

  • Coverage is limited to dogs and cats owned by the named insured and resident relatives.
  • Only covers injuries sustained in a “collision” or “comprehensive” claim.
  • The pet must be inside the vehicle when injured to be covered (includes pickup truck beds).
  • $1000 is the most Progressive will pay in a collision or comp claim regardless of number of pets injured or that die.
  • Pays up to $1000 for veterinary bills if a pet is injured in a coll/comp claim.
  • Pays $1000 if the pet dies as a result of the coll/comp claim. The insured does not need to replace the animal to get paid.
  • In cases of theft, we will cover a stolen pet for the $1000 death benefit only if there is a total theft of the car while the pet is in it.
  • The customer will need to provide proof of payment to be reimbursed for vet bills.
  • There is no coverage if there is not Collision coverage on at least one vehicle listed on the policy. If Collision coverage is purchased on any one vehicle, Pet Injury coverage is provided whether the pet is in the vehicle with collision coverage or one of the other vehicles that may not have collision on the policy, or in a “non-owned” car as defined in the policy. Furthermore, there is coverage if the pet is injured, dies or is stolen as a result of an event that fits the definitions of Comprehensive (even if Comp coverage has not been purchased).
  • If the loss is excluded for the vehicle under Part IV of the policy, coverage for Pet Injury is also excluded.
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Techniques to Avoid Crashes

Most crashes are not inevitable. While some are beyond your control, you can do a lot to avoid, or at least reduce the effects of, many crashes. While a defensive driving program will teach you many useful techniques for avoiding accidents, a few of the most important methods are highlighted here.
Left turns at intersections: This is one of the major accident situations involving older drivers. That’s because there can be many elements demanding your attention, such as other cars, pedestrians, kids on bikes, or a changing light – and a driver who is trying torun it. Impaired depth perception and other vision changes can make this a treacherous situation. Exercise greater caution while making a left-hand turn or choose a route that avoids difficult turns.
Rollovers: These types of accidents are responsible for 33% of car fatalities. Of those killed in rollover crashes, nearly 75% were not wearing a safety belt. Vehicles that are narrow and taller, such as SUVs, pickup trucks and vans, have a greater likelihood of rolling over. This is another factor to consider when selecting a vehicle. Of course, always wear your safety belt and don’t speed.
Changing lanes: This type of accident is a major problem for adult drivers. As we age, we may have more difficulty turning our heads to look at cars approaching in an adjoining lane. Rear-view mirrors are important safety tools, but they’re not enough. Turn your head and look for approaching traffic in the lane into which you’ll be moving.
• Parking lots: It will be no surprise to anyone who has driven, even for a short period of time, that most parking lots are driving nightmares. Cars are backing up, often with the side views blocked by large vehicles, trucks or buildings; shoppers are hurrying to and fro without a glance left or right; and children newly released from the confines of their cars are running across driving lanes. The best advice:

– Park so that you can drive forward from your spot when it’s time to leave, if at all possible.
– Park farther away in the parking lot if you can, so you will have fewer cars and pedestrians to contend with as you depart.
– Drive very slowly in the lot and be prepared to stop quickly at every intersection, whether or not you have a stop sign.
– Watch for drivers who can’t be bothered driving in the established lanes, and who choose instead to follow their own direct route diagonally across the lot.
– Remember that you want to simply avoid an accident, not to show that you have – and intend to take – the right of way!

Cell phones and other electronic gadgets: Whether you’re talking on a cell phone, texting, using your laptop or any other device not related to driving, you will be distracted from the task at hand – safe driving. State traffic laws are beginning to catch up with the common use of electronic devices, often banning their use while driving. Pull over when you need to use any electronic device.
Dark, rainy nights: These driving situations are difficult at any age, and they’re especially dangerous for us as we age. By the time we reach our 40s and 50s, we have already noticed that our vision is less sharp on dark, rainy nights. Do your best to avoid driving in these conditions if you are uncomfortable. Now is the time to ask for a ride or, if possible, to put off the errand or visit until tomorrow.

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Home Maintenance Tips

Protecting Your Investment

If you know where every nickel of your new home’s down payment came from, shouldn’t you also know where every penny will go? Buying a home will probably be the biggest investment of your lifetime. And that’s why before you sign on the dotted line, you should give the house a thorough inspection. When inspecting a house, especially an older residence, you must try to determine the extent of deterioration, how much work you can personally handle, how much it will cost to have a professional do the work, and what problems you can live with. Most of all, safety should be your major concern.

We  share your concern for a safer house. Here is a checklist of some items the home buyer should look for when inspecting a house. Some points are major and may require consultation with a licensed professional. Others can be taken care of by a person handy with a hammer and nail.  Please take a few moments to review the following inspection and maintenance tips:

 

 

Water damage/Plumbing

  • Know where your main water shut-off valve is located and know how to turn the water off.
  • Inspect all exposed pipes for leaks.
  • Inspect ceilings and walls for water spots, peeling paint, and loose ceiling tiles for hidden leaks.
  • Check all faucets for leaks or corrosion.
  • If exposed pipes in the basement exist, make sure warm air is circulated throughout. An insulating wrap is a good alternative to treat exposed pipes in unheated areas.
  • Bleed all pipes of air.
  • Shut off and drain outside water lines before winter in locations subject to freezing.
  • Inspect the rubber connecting hoses for dishwashers and washing machines. Replace every 3-5 years or sooner if evidence of rot appears.
  • Equip your showers, sinks, and tubs with drain screens to catch the debris, hair, and bits of soap that can cause clogs and back-ups.
  • Never flush items like diapers, Q-tips, sanitary napkins, or tampons down a toilet.

 

Roof

  • Have the roof inspected for damage such as lifting of shingles, missing shingles, holes, or wear. Be careful if you need to use a ladder or climb on the roof.
  • Flat or hot asphalt roofs should be resealed every three years and professionally checked every ten years.
  • Inspect around all roof penetrations (such as flashing and chimneys).
  • Inspect and clean all gutters and down spouts.
  • Repair damaged gutters and down spouts.
  • Have excessive snow or ice build-up removed.

 

Electrical

  • Inspect exposed wiring for wear or damage. Be careful not to touch wiring.
  • Inspect the fuse or circuit breaker box for excessive wear or damage. Look for tripped breakers.
  • Label with a pen or permanent marker each circuit breaker, noting which location it serves. If you have fuses, also note the amperage.
  • Make sure appropriate fuses are being used and all sockets are filled. Do not use pennies or foil to fill the sockets.
  • Eliminate all situations where more than one electrical unit is plugged into a single outlet.
  • Check electrical units for overheating.
  • Major appliances should be plugged into appropriate outlets.
  • Do not place floor coverings (e.g., carpeting) over electrical cords.

 

Heating

  • It’s tempting to use supplemental heating devices (such as electrical or kerosene heaters) during the winter. If they must be used, keep them away from flammable materials and surfaces that can ignite from prolonged dry heat. Do not store additional fuel in the same room.
  • Have furnace/air conditioners professionally cleaned and serviced annually (including the filter).
  • Inspect underground fuel tanks.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean creosote build-up in chimney.

 

General security

  • All exterior doors should have deadbolt locks.
  • Do not leave personal property (such as lawnmowers, bikes or grills) unsecured outdoors.
  • A heat and smoke detector should be on every floor. It’s recommended that detectors be powered by an electrical source with a battery back up.
  • Check heat and smoke detector batteries every 3 months. Test heat and smoke detectors when checking the battery.
  • A fire extinguisher should be located in the kitchen and near the furnace. Household members should be taught to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Motion sensitive outdoor lighting is suggested for added safety and security. If it’s affordable, central station burglar and fire alarms are another security alternative.
  • Neighborhood watch groups are also suggested.
  • Do not hide a spare key outside your premises.

 

Liability

  • Keep walkways, stairs and sidewalk free of obstacles.
  • Shovel snow as soon as possible and use salt/sand substances to reduce ice formation.
  • Keep stairs, porches, stoops and their rails in good repair.
  • Maintain and use outdoor lighting.

If you own a dog, you should enroll it in Canine Good Citizenship classes offered by the American Kennel Club. The dog does not have to be a pedigree to attend.

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Airbag Safety

Virtually all new cars have airbags, and they’re saving lives. They’re reducing driver deaths by about 14 percent,and passenger bags reduce deaths by about 11 percent.  People who use safety belts may think they don’t need airbags.  But they do. Airbags and lap/shoulder belts work together as a system, and one without the other isn’t as effective. Deaths are 12 percent lower among drivers with belts and 9 percent lower among belted passengers. But there also are problems with airbags. Inflating bags have caused some serious injuries and deaths.
Position Is What Counts
Serious inflation injuries occur primarily because of people’s positions when airbags first begin inflating.  Anyone, regardless of size or age, who’s on top of, or very close to, an airbag is at ri sk. Most airbag deaths have involved people who weren’t using belts, were using them incorrectly, or were positioned improperly. 

People without belts or using them incorrectly, especially passengers, are at risk because they’re likely to move forward during hard braking or other violent maneuvers before crashes. Then they’re likely to be very close to, or on top of, airbags before inflation begins.  Improperly positioned people at risk include drivers who sit very close to the steering wheel — 10 inches or closer— and infants in rear-facing restraints in front seats.
Understanding that airbag injury risk is related to position leads to a few simple steps that can eliminate the risks without sacrificing airbag benefits.
Kids in the Back
Don’t put a rear-facing restraint in the front seat. Starting with the first trip home from the hospital, put an infant in the center back seat.  Make sure the rearfacing restraint is tightly secured to the vehicle with an adult safety belt and the baby is buckled snugly in.
If there’s no choice but to put a baby in the front seat, then an on/off switch for the passenger airbag is essential.  But before you do this, remember the back seat is safer. Even without airbags, kids riding in back are much less likely to be killed. Now riding in back is even more important because it keeps children away from inflating airbags.
When babies outgrow their rear-facing restraints, they should graduate to forward-facing ones or booster seats attached to a vehicle’s back seat with an adult safety belt.  As kids later graduate to adult belts, proper restraint use still is essential. Don’t put the shoulder portion of a belt behind a child or under the arm. And don’t let a youngster do this either, because it compromises protection.  A lap belt should be positioned so it’s low and snug across a child’s hips, not up over the abdomen.

 Older kids should continue riding in a back seat. Only if there are too many children to put them all in back should a child be allowed to ride up front. Then make sure the seat is all the way back and the child is securely buckled and sitting back in the seat. Leaning forward to, for example, fiddle with radio dials can put a child at risk. If you worry about keeping a child sitting back, you may wish to consider getting an on/off switch for the passenger airbag.
Adults: Buckle Up and Sit Back
It isn’t your size, gender, or age that determines risk.  It’s position in relation to an airbag. Most adults can virtually eliminate the risk by buckling up. Neither short women nor elderly drivers are especially vulnerable if they use safety belts and sit at least 10 inches from the steering wheel.
Belted drivers potentially at risk of serious airbag injury are those sitting very close to the steering wheel.  But the same drivers would be at risk without airbags because they’re likely to hit the steering wheel hard —usually with the face — in a serious crash. They can reduce the airbag risk without sacrificing the benefits by sitting back and away from the wheel.
Most drivers, even short ones, can get at least 10 inches from the steering wheel and still reach the pedals. The problem often is that drivers sitting closer are leaning forward instead of sitting back in their seats. They need only sit back. The few who cannot get 10 inches from the steering wheel and still comfortably reach the pedals may wish to consider pedal extenders.
On/Off Switches for Airbags
The federal government has set criteria for the very few cases when airbag on/off switches may be needed to avoid injury risk. But getting a driver airbag switch makes sense only when someone — for example, a very short person — has tried various positions and cannot comfortably drive while sitting back and away from the steering wheel. A woman late in pregnancy who cannot get her abdomen away from the steering wheel also may wish to get permission for a switch based on medical need.  But remember that in a serious crash without an airbag, sitting so close to the wheel means a high risk of hitting it.

Most 1998 and later cars have redesigned airbags with less powerful inflators that reduce injury risk. In these cars, there’s probably no need to get an on/off switch for a driver airbag even if you cannot get 10 inches from the wheel. Still, it’s best to sit back and away from an airbag.
On the passenger side, there’s no significant airbag injury risk for belted adults sitting back in the seat. The risk for infants and children can be eliminated by ensuring they ride in a back seat, properly restrained. The back is safer anyway.
So should you even consider getting an on/off switch for a passenger airbag? Rarely — for example, when an infant with medical problems requires constant observation and the driver is the only other person in the vehicle. Then there might be no choice except to put the baby up front, and the airbag would present a risk. Of course, paying constant attention to a baby distracts from driving and involves its own risks.
Another group is parents who transport too many infants or small children to put them all in back and are concerned about keeping the child in front sitting back and away from the airbag. In this case, you may wish to get an on/off switch. If you do get one, remember to use it correctly. Remember to turn off the airbag when an infant or child must ride in front.
The decision about airbag on/off switches should be made with the facts in mind. Then it becomes clear that getting a switch rarely is necessary. Just take the simple precautions spelled out in this publication to eliminate the potential risk.
Future Is Advanced Airbags
The problem of serious inflation injuries isn’t going to be with us forever. Most new models have redesigned airbags, and future airbag technologies will reduce the risk even among people who have moved forward before airbags inflate. Sensors will detect rear-facing restraints and automatically switch off passenger bags. Inflation rates will be tailored to crash severity. More advanced airbags could recognize people’s positions just before inflating and reduce the force if someone is in position to be harmed.

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Understanding Identity Theft

Your Identity Belongs to You. Protect It, Too.

One smart way to protect yourself against identity theft is to prevent it. If your identity is stolen, you’ll be able to lessen problems by acting quickly.

Start with Good Habits

  • Print out the .pdf of this information, and store in a convenient place
  • Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place
  • Shred papers with personal information
  • Reduce your credit card accounts, and carry only the cards you need
  • Write checks with a permanent pen, and mail from a secure place
  • Photocopy both sides of your credit cards and store safely

Watch Your Accounts Closely

  • Review balances and transactions often by phone or online
  • Make sure every transaction on your credit card statements is accurate
  • Take advantage of free credit reports (see sidebar) and watch for unusual activity
  • Sign up with Experian, Transunion, and Equifax and stagger your requests to get a free credit report every four months or sign up for credit watch services which will report directly to you for a fee

Fill Out the FTC Affidavit Quickly

  • The FTC Theft Affidavit supplies proof that you didn’t authorize any accounts opened or debts run up by the identity thief
  • New accounts need this FTC affidavit form to investigate the fraud and process your claim
  • Call your existing accounts for instructions on disputing unauthorized charges as other forms may be needed
  • Keep originals of the affidavit, and all supporting materials such as driver’s license or police report. Send copies only.
  • Send quickly—many creditors request that you send the affidavit within two weeks

Keep This Information Handy

Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Line and websites:
1-877-438-4338
www.consumer.gov/idtheft
www.ftc.gov

Social Security Administration Fraud Line: 1-800-269-0271

Credit Reporting Agencies
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
www.equifax.com

Experian: 1-888-397-3742
www.experian.com

Transunion: 1-800-680-7289
www.transunion.com

Identity Theft Plan

  1. Call your credit card companies immediately. Explain what happened, and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
  2. Call and report to the police. Make several copies of police report.
  3. Complete a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Theft Affidavit and FTC report (see contact information above to request these forms).
  4. Call your bank. They can place an alert on your Driver’s License number and Social Security Number, and freeze your account.
  5. Call fraud units of credit report agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
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Safety Tips While Driving

  • Pull Off the Road
    Don’t drive while calling or texting; pull off the road to a safe location.
  • Use Speed Dialing
    Program frequently called numbers and your local emergency number into the speed dial feature of your phone for easy, one-touch dialing. when available, use auto answer or voice-activated dialing. 
  • Never Dial While Driving
    If you must dial manually, do so only when stopped. Pull off the road, or better yet, have a passenger dial for you. 
  • Take a Message
    Let your voice mail pick up your calls in tricky driving situations. It’s easy—and safer—to retrieve your messages later on.
  •  Know When to Stop Talking
    Keep conversations on the phone and in the car brief so you can concentrate on your driving. if a long discussion is required, if the topic is stressful or emotional, or if driving becomes hazardous, end your conversation and continue it once you are off the road.
  •  Keep the Phone in Its Holder
    Make sure your phone is securely in its holder when you are not using it so it does not pop out and distract you when you are driving.
  • Don’t Take Notes While Driving
    If you need to write something down, use a tape recorder or pull off the road.
  • Don’t Eat or Drink While Driving
    Spills, both hot and cold, can easily cause an accident. If you have to stop short, you could also be severely burned.
  •  Groom Yourself At Home
    Shaving, putting on makeup, combing your hair or other forms of preening are distractions and should be done at home, not while driving. 
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    Power Outage – Prepare Your Home

    Whether a power outage in your home is caused by grid failure or severe weather, you can take the following steps to prepare and respond:

    • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one (remember, water expands as it freezes so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water). Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold if the power goes out, by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
    • If you use a computer, keep files and operating systems backed up regularly. Consider buying extra batteries and a power converter if you use a laptop computer. A power converter allows most laptops (12 volts or less) to be operated from the cigarette lighter of a vehicle. Also, turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers, scanners and other devices when they’re not being used. That way, if the power goes out, this equipment will have already been safely shut down.
    • Get a high quality surge protector for all of your computer equipment. If you use the computer a lot, such as for a home business, consider purchasing and installing an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). Consult with your local computer equipment dealer about available equipment and costs. 
    • If you have an electric garage door opener, find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it. Sometimes garage doors can be heavy, so get help to lift it. If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home upon return from work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you, in case the garage door will not open. 
    • If you have a telephone instrument or system at home or at work that requires electricity to work (such as a cordless phone or answering machine), plan for alternate communication, including having a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone, radio or pager.
    • Check with remote service providers to see if they have backup power systems and how long those systems will operate. Remember, too, that some voice mail systems and remote dial-up servers for computer networks may not operate when the power is out where these systems are located. So even if you have power, your access to remote technology may be interrupted if the power that serves those areas is disrupted.
    • Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts.
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    Motorcycle Safety

     To stay safe, you need complete command of your machine and the best safety gear you can get. We also have some helpful tips to keep in mind as you’re heading for the highway.

    Be Prepared and Protected

    New Gear? Update Your Policy

    Your  motorcycle may have some coverage for custom parts and equipment—however you have to make sure each piece of equipment is listed on your policy. Any time you buy safety equipment or customize your bike, update your insurance policy before you head out on the highway.

    Training saves

    One out of four motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2006 were driving with invalid licenses.* Most carriers offer discounts to riders who attend the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s safe riding courses or are active in one of 10 approved groups that promote safe riding. Do both those things and you can reduce your premium by up to 10 percent.

    No one’s too old to wear a helmet

    A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is forty percent more likely to sustain a fatal head injury in a crash than a rider without a helmet.* A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study reports that “helmets saved 1,658 motorcyclists’ lives in 2006, and that 752 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.”* Buy a full-face helmet for the best protection for your head and eyes. Wear other protective gear as well: heavy leather or synthetic gloves, long pants and jacket, and over-the-ankle leather boots.

    In a crash, the SUV wins

    When cars and motorcycles collide, it’s usually because the driver of the car failed to see the cyclist. With more SUVs on the road, it’s even more critical to take extra steps to become more visible. Use your headlamps—both night and day—and wear yellow, red or orange jackets to make yourself easy to see. Make a point of positioning yourself in your lane for visibility.

    Ride sober

    Driving impaired is more deadly for cyclers than other drivers. In fact, more than half of all motorcycle deaths occur when the rider has been drinking.*

    * Source: NHTSA’s 2008 Traffic Safety report on Motorcycles.

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