There is plenty of controversy about how safe GPS devices are. Whether they increase or decrease safety depends on the driver. However, when used correctly, a GPS can be a great safety addition to any vehicle. The following reasons show good examples of why drivers are safer with a GPS system.
Drivers know where they are going. Lost drivers are usually distracted and dangerous additions to the road. They speed up, slow down and spend more time looking at signs than watching the road. When a GPS is used correctly, drivers can focus on the task of driving while the GPS navigates. If a turn is missed, the GPS will automatically recalculate the route to compensate.
Driving at night is safer with a GPS. Most people find it more difficult to drive at night or in low-visibility conditions. Fortunately, a GPS has the ability to warn the driver of upcoming turns or ramps before it is time to use them. The map previews are especially helpful for driving on dark back roads.
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There is no need to deal with awkward paper maps. Juggling large paper maps and trying to refold them is a difficult task. Trying to read these maps while driving creates several hazards. Having a passenger try to read the maps might not always be beneficial. This is why it is easier and safer to get a GPS device.
There are special safety features. Hands-free features allow for calling the police while driving. There are also features for locating nearby hospitals, good repair shops and a wide variety of other destinations.
It is easy to choose the right lane. Some streets and freeways are confusing. Certain lanes may turn into exits, and congested traffic makes such situations worse. A good GPS system will tell drivers which lane to stay in, which exit to take and when to turn.
How to Turn a GPS into a Safety Aid
The first driving task any person should accomplish is to be aware of his or her surroundings. By following some simple rules, drivers can stay aware and maximize the safety features of their GPS devices.
Learn to use the device before taking off. Although most people learn the basic functions before getting on the road, very few thoroughly learn the overall system. Beginners should practice using the GPS and become comfortable with the touchscreen. Make sure the features are optimized for visibility. One mistake many beginners make is keeping their eyes on the screen too long.
Never program the device while driving. Every start-up screen and safety manual reiterates this important tip. Enter the destination prior to departing. If it is necessary to change or cancel the destination while driving, pull over to a safe place to re-program it. Fortunately, some newer devices prohibit re-programming while the car is in motion.
Mount the GPS device in a safe place. When choosing a spot for the GPS, make sure it does not conflict with important sight lines. Positioning it near the dashboard is a good idea.
Always rely on the voice directions. Although it might be necessary to glance occasionally at the map, try to rely mostly on voice directions. Avoid staring at the map. If it seems confusing, pull over to study it.
MAKING YOUR SMART PHONE "INSURANCE SMART"
You have the phone and the capabilities that come with it. Using the phone to manage all of your insurance affairs is not only smart, it will put you ahead of the game if you need to access your insurance information or if you end up having a claim. There is no better place than on your smart phone to store all the information and tools because it is likely with you at all times. The best news is, the resources are there and putting them in place is a snap.
The first thing you should do is to see if your insurance company has an app for your phone. If they do, downloading such an app is a no-brainer. These apps are available as a free added value service to you. The best part is that most of these apps have a number of capabilities. This includes nearly everything from accessing your policy information to submitting a claim and everything else in between. For example, if you get into an accident, some apps allow you to take photos and submit them together with a claims form you complete right on your phone. This means you can submit a claim within minutes after an accident happens, together with all the photos documenting the incident.
Although reporting a claim is probably the most valuable advantage of these apps, another advantage is having access to your policy information anytime you need it. What is your policy number? When does your policy renew? When is your next payment due? How much coverage do you have? All of this is right at your fingertips. For example, if you need your policy number and information for your job or you are driving kids on a field trip and the school needs it, these apps make it easy to access all this information.
Although most insurance carriers do have apps, even if your carrier does not have an app, the phone itself can be a valuable resource. For claims situations, the phone's camera is just about the best mobile documentation tool you can have. Also, if you are away from home, the ability to connect to the internet to look up resources such as the nearest towing company, the insurance company's website, and of course your agent's phone number can be your greatest asset. Best yet, you can use the phone's map to get directions to the closest place you may need to get to.
In addition to insurance company apps, there are a number of other applications that might be available. One example is a home inventory app that will help you to setup and organize photos or video of your entire home inventory. This can come in handy in the unfortunate event that you have a fire or are burglarized, as insurance companies will need an entire inventory to complete forms when processing the claim. Another example of a helpful app is a document storage and sharing app such as box.net or dropbox.com. These apps allow you to store and share documents and images virtually in what is referred to as a "cloud" format. This basically means that you can upload and save images from a computer to the cloud, and then you will have access to those images from your smart phone or any other computer.
Investing a little initial time to download and setup apps and other resources to make your phone "insurance smart" is well worth it. It will not only save you time when you need this information, it will allow you to be stay ahead of the game, even possibly being able to provide enough evidence to prove you are not at fault in an auto accident. You are 95% there by having a smart phone, and the benefits are too great not to take the next step in using the insurance-ready resources that are available.
IMPORTANT FIRE SAFETY TIPS TO AVOID A DISASTER
In a very short amount of time, a fire can accelerate from a small flame to an out-of-control blaze. Fires destroy thousands of homes in the United States each year, so it is important for all homeowners to take steps to prevent them. It is also important to know what to do when a fire breaks out and how to control it. Research shows that almost 80% of structural fires happen in peoples' homes or apartments. Almost all of these fires are preventable, so fireproofing a home is the most important step to take.
There is much more to fireproofing a residence than purchasing a fire extinguisher and testing smoke alarms regularly. For increased safety, consider the following suggestions:
Replace any mattresses made before 2007 with new ones. The Federal Mattress Flammability Standard was enacted then, and it was made to increase the manufacturing safety standards.
Avoid using space heaters or electric blankets that are not approved by leading laboratories.
Make sure electrical cords are not trapped against walls or under objects where heat commonly increases.
Never put clothing or textiles on top of lamps.
Make sure closets and other storage spaces do not have loose papers or other flammable materials lying around.
For the Kitchen
Never leave food unattended in the oven, on the stove or in other kitchen cooking devices.
Make a habit of using timers for cooking food.
Avoid leaving flammable items on kitchen counters. Paper towels, cleaning supplies, oven mitts and shopping lists should be stored in safe places.
For Appliances & Electrical Outlets
Leaving any appliance on increases the risk of a fire, so never leave the home without making sure all appliances are off. This also includes washers, dryers and dishwashers.
Check the cords of fixtures and appliances frequently. If they are frayed, they should be replaced.
Avoid plugging too many items into one electrical outlet or power strip.
If fuses blow several times in a short time span, call an electrician immediately.
Have the home's wiring examined frequently. This is especially important in older homes, attics and crawl spaces where insulation can be ignited by sparks.
Unfortunately, even the most careful homeowners can experience a fire. Lightning could strike, and a burning tree or bush could engulf a home in flames during a dry lightning storm. For this reason, it is important to have ample insurance coverage. Homeowners and renters should discuss these options with one of our agents.