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Home > Insurance Need To Know > Driver Safety

Insurance Need To Know - Driver Safety

New Cellular Phone Laws Go Into Effect July 1, 2008
New California laws prohibit all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (Vehicle Code (VC) §23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a "hands-free device." Drivers under the age of 18 may NOT use a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).

Click for more info on the new cell phone laws from the California DMV.

The law becomes effective July 1, 2008. There will be NO grace period when motorists will only get a warning. These laws apply to out-of-state drivers. This law only applies to the person driving a motor vehicle.

A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction. The base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. With the addition of penalty assessments, the fines can be more than triple the base fine amount. The violation is a reportable offense and a conviction will appear on your driving record, however, DMV will not assign a violation point.

The law allows a driver to use a wireless telephone to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency.
Cell Phone Safety Tips :
  • Learn to use the redial, speed dial or voice dial features.
  • Keep your phone within easy reach.
  • You can use the speaker phone if you do not have a "hands-free device".
  • Don't use your cell phone while driving in bad weather.
  • Select safe times to dial, like stopped at a light or in a parking lot.
Avoid Drinking & Driving by Using a Designated Driver
Often you can take a taxi, bus, or other form of driving service after a social gathering where you have consumed alcohol. When there is an exception to this it is always a good idea to have a designated driver. This person is responsible for remaining sober and driving the others in the group home.
How to Stop a Drunk Driver before they get behind the wheel?
  • If it's a friend or loved one, pull them aside and explain you feel they may have had too much to drink. Offer to call a cab or let someone else drive.
  • Keep it light. Joke with them about the situation.
  • Try not to embarrass them. Don't make a big scene and they will probably agree with you that it's a good idea for someone else to drive.
  • If they are determined to drive NEVER ride with an impaired driver.
  • Take their keys while they are distracted. They will likely think they have lost them during the evening.
Seat Belts
The most important thing to remember is ALWAYS wear your seat belt. It's the law in California. It is also important to make sure all passengers in your vechicle also wear their seat belts.

In the event of an accident seat belts keep passengers restrained so they can't injure you or each other. The seat belt design distributes the energy from a crash evenly to the pelvis and chest. These areas are two of the strongest in the body.

Always wear the belt properly across the lap with the shoulder strap snugly across your chest. Check the seat belts often to see they are functioning properly and can be adjusted with ease.
Air Bags
Air bags are intended to be used with seat belts. Air bags were designed to cushion the contact between a driver and the dashboard, steering wheel and, in many cars, vehicle doors. Children 12 years and under should ride in the rear seat, with seat belts securely fastened. If a child is riding in the front seat when an airbag deploys, the impact potentially could be fatal. Some vehicles allow passenger side air bags to be turned off.
Head Restraints
Position your head restraint properly to protect your head and neck in the event of an accident. The top of the head restraint should be near the top of your head.
Protecting your children in case of a car accident is a parents number one priority. The best way to accomplish this is by properly using child safety seats or seat belts. As a driver, child passengers are your responsibility — make sure you understand how to keep children safe while driving.
Proper Use of Seat Belts for Children
  • Children 12 and under should be buckled up in the rear seats.
  • Children should ride in an appropriate child safety seat until 8 years of age, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh 80 pounds.
  • Never hold a child in your lap. An unrestrained 10-pound infant would instantly be ripped from an adult's arms in a 30-mph collision.
  • The lap belt should cross the child's upper thighs and the diagonal belt should cross the upper chest and a point between the neck and the center of the shoulder.
  • Children should continue to use a belt-positioning booster until the lap and shoulder belts fit properly and the child's legs are long enough to bend at the edge of the seat.
Proper Use of Child Safety Seats
  • Infants — From birth to 1 year and less than 20 pounds, infants should be placed in rear-facing child safety seats in the back seat of the car. The harness straps should be at or below shoulder level.
  • Toddlers — From 1 year and at least 20 to 40 pounds, toddlers should be placed in forward-facing child safety seats in the back seat of the car. The harness straps should be at or above the shoulders. Children who are less than 1 year but weigh more than 20 pounds should ride in restraint seats approved for higher rear-facing weights.
  • Young Children — Children more than 40 pounds but less than 4 feet 9 inches tall should be placed in forward-facing booster seats in the back seat of the car. Lap belts should fit low and tight across the thighs, and shoulder belts should fit snugly across the chest and shoulder to prevent abdominal injuries.
Teen drivers have the highest fatal crash risk of any age group. Per mile traveled, they have the highest involvement rates in all types of crashes, from those involving only property damage to those that are fatal. The problem is worst among 16 year-olds, who have the most limited driving experience that often results in risk-taking behind the wheel.
Crash Risk Factors for Teens
  • Driver Error — Compared with crashes of older drivers, those of teenagers more often involve driver error.
  • Speeding — Excessive speed is a factor in higher crash rates among 16-year-old drivers.
  • Single Vehicle Crashes — More fatal crashes of teenage drivers involve only the teen's vehicle. Typically, these involve high speed and/or driver error.
  • Passengers — Fatal crashes among teens are more likely to occur when other teenagers are in the car. The risk increases with every additional passenger. In 2003, 59 percent of teenage passenger deaths happened in vehicles driven by another teenager.
  • Alcohol — Although this is a problem among drivers of all ages, it's actually less of a problem for drivers ages 16 and 17. In 2003, the estimated percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers of this age who had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent was 16 percent — down 60 percent since 1982.
  • Night Driving — This is a high-risk activity for beginners. Per mile driven, the crash rate for teenagers driving at night with passengers is 4 to 5 times more likely than teenagers who drive alone during the day.
  • Low Seat Belt Use — Teenagers generally are less likely to use safety belts than adults. In 2003, 57 percent of 16- to 20-year-old passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing safety belts.
What to Do if You Are in an Accident
  • Remain Calm — Keep your composure and remain in control of the situation.
  • Make sure your passengers are OK — Move a safe distance off the roadway and remain at the scene. Activate the vehicle's hazard lights to warn approaching motorists.
  • Call the Police — Call 911 or the police department's direct line.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company — You need to file your claim quickly so your insurance company can work to resolve your claim.
  • Do Not Admit Fault — Only discuss the accident with the police and your claims representative.
  • Exchange information with the other driver involved — Write down the name, address, phone number and license numbers for all drivers and witnesses, particularly those who were not riding in a vehicle involved in the accident. Ask for the insurance companies and policy numbers for drivers involved in the car accident.