Top High-Tech Car Safety Features

Nov 10


MP900438798 - smallEverybody has felt that unpleasant surprise when a car comes zooming into view after being hidden in a blind spot. Older motorists are no different, and they see warning systems against this hazard as the top safety feature in newer cars, according to a new report by the MIT AgeLab and The Hartford Insurance Company. After surveying hundreds of drivers over age 50 who get behind the wheel at least three times a week, the study found that these “mature motorists” felt more confident with cars which have at least one of 10 advanced safety technologies.

Here are the top 10 safety features for older motorists (in order):

  1. Blind-spot warnings alert drivers when another vehicle is approaching unseen and also help with parking.
  2. Crash mitigation systems detect imminent collisions and can help reduce passenger injuries.
  3. Emergency response systems alert paramedics or other emergency personnel if there’s an accident.
  4. Drowsy driver alerts warn motorists when they nod off or otherwise become inattentive.
  5. Reverse monitoring systems help drivers (especially those with reduced flexibility) judge distances and back up safely by warning of objects behind the vehicle.
  6. Vehicle stability control reduces crashes by helping steer a car if it veers offline or has trouble navigating a curve.
  7. Lane departure warning alerts motorists when they drift from a lane.
  8. “Smart” headlights illuminate the road more effectively by responding to the direction the driver is steering and the vehicle’s speed.
  9. Voice-activated command systems allow motorists to use a car’s features without losing focus on the highway.
  10. Automated parking assist calculates the angles and steers the car into the space, reducing driver stress and increasing the number of potential parking spots.

How many of these safety features does your newer car have?



Commercial Auto Insurance 101

May 11

Nearly six million traffic accidents occur in the U.S. every year – more than 16,000 a day (or one every 10 seconds).

If your company owns, operates, or uses motor vehicles – or if you have employees who use their cars for business purposes – you need Commercial Auto Insurance to provide financial protection against losses from mishaps that occur behind the wheel.

This valuable policy provides these coverages:

  • Bodily Injury Liability pays the cost of bodily injury to others from accidents for which you are responsible. If you’re sued, it also pays your defense and court costs.
  • Property Damage Liability picks up the tab for property damage to others for which you are responsible, as well as defense and court expenses.
  • Personal Injury/Medical Payments usually covers medical and funeral expenses for bodily injury from an accident that involves an insured vehicle.
  • Collision pays for a covered vehicle that is damaged by a collision with another vehicle or object.
  • Comprehensive Coverage pays for a covered auto that is stolen or that is damaged by causes other than collision or reckless driving.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists covers injuries and, in some cases, property damage, when you’re involved in an accident with another person who either doesn’t have Auto Insurance or carry enough coverage.

Before you purchase or renew your Commercial Auto Insurance ask yourself these questions: 1) how much Liability Coverage you should buy, and 2) how large of a deductible should you choose?

We’d be happy to help you choose the most cost effective policy for your needs. Just give us a call.




Feb 10


Say you operate a vehicle frequently, but don’t actually own one. Nonowners Auto Insurance is the product you’re looking for.

These policies generally provide Liability coverage only, which protects you if you’re at fault for any injuries or property damage suffered by another driver or pedestrian. Nonowners Auto usually does not include Comprehensive, Collision, Towing reimbursement, or Rental reimbursement coverages. In many cases, you won’t have to pay a deductible.

If you occasionally borrow the car of a friend or family member, the owner’s Auto policy will cover any accidents. However, a Nonowners Auto policy can still pay off in such situations; for example, if the owner has low Liability limits.

This coverage might make sense if you rent cars regularly. Insurance sold by a rental agency is often expensive — from $7 to $14 a day for a Liability policy.

However, bear in mind that Nonowners Auto insurance will not cover damages to a car you rent. For this reason, it often makes sense to purchase a Collision Damage Waiver — commonly known as a “loss damage waiver” — from the rental agency. Although this is technically not insurance, it will protect you from responsibility for damage to or theft of your rental. Some waivers also offer coverage from “loss of use” fees charged to renters while the car is being repaired. Waivers usually cost $9 to $20 per day.

For more information about Nonowners Auto coverage, please feel free to get in touch with us.



Winter Car Checklist: Tune-up Checklist

Dec 16

jeep-833206_1280Before winter weather hits, you need to tune up your car. Follow this checklist as you prepare your vehicle to navigate cold temperatures and winter weather safely.


As the heart of your vehicle, the engine must be in good working order. Inspect it thoroughly and repair any faulty wiring or replace the spark plugs if necessary. Also, visually inspect the belts on both sides and make sure they’re not cracked, frayed or glazed. Inspect the hoses and tem if you see cracks or other wear, too.


Protect your vehicle from overheating when you maintain the radiator. Flush the entire system if it hasn’t been done in the past two years, and repair any leaks before adding fresh antifreeze.


Maintain power all season when you check your battery and its connections. Ensure the battery is free from corrosion and securely attached to the vehicle. Replace it if it’s older than seven years.


Your vehicle can’t operate properly without oil or if the oil system is dirty. Clean or replace the filter and change the oil now.


Not only do filters remove dirt and assist your vehicle in operating properly, but they can improve your gas mileage. This fall, replace your car’s oil, transmission and air filters.

Power Steering

Maintain control of your vehicle at all times thanks to power steering. If your vehicle is handling rough or groaning, repair this essential system.


Worn brakes reduce your ability to stop on slippery roads. Ask your mechanic to inspect the brakes and replace them if they’re worn or uneven.


Properly aligned tires with the correct pressure and adequate tread provide the traction you need. Take time now to inspect your tires. Rotate, replace or inflate them as needed.


Visibility is required for safe winter driving. Change the windshield wipers so that they make full contact with the windshield. Fill the washer fluid, too. 


A safe exhaust system prevents dangerous carbon monoxide emissions. Repair any muffler or tail pipe system leaks.


Rust spots grow over time, especially when exposed to wet winter elements. Repair any rust spots as you protect your vehicle. 

Taking care of your vehicle now ensures it’s protected all season. In addition to following this winter tune-up checklist, talk to your insurance agent. Ensure your auto coverage is adequate as you prepare for winder driving.


Simple Tips to Get Your Car Winter Ready This Fall

Sep 30

Raley, Watts, & O'Neill, MD, Commercial Vehicle InsuranceWe all count on our cars. But in order to do their jobs safely and well, our cars have to be able to count on us too.

Fall is a great time to get cars ready for the long winter months and tough road conditions that will prevail until spring. With tires that are prepared for rain and ice, new wipers, a trusty engine and perfect insurance – among other things – you should be good to go for another year.

Check Filters and Oil Levels

Your car can’t run well if you don’t give it the tools it needs to do so. Clean oil is a must, as are clean filters. If you know how to make these relatively minor replacements yourself, you may be able to save some money. However, most people don’t, and these services are still cheap from a mechanic. So either way, get it done.

Get the Engine Checked

While many people check oil and filters, too few check their engine. Have your mechanic give your car a thorough once-over to make sure your car is winter-ready.

Update Your Insurance

Insurance is only as good as what it covers. If you’ve recently added a new driver or significantly changed your commuting patterns, your insurance agent needs to know. Of course, that goes without saying if you’ve just purchased a new vehicle.

Rotate and Replace Tires

Tires get worn down, and can even melt a little on hot summer roads. Instead of calling it good, get your tires rotated and checked out. It’s possible some of them have gotten too bald over the summer to be safe on slick winter roads, so buy new ones. If you can do this yourself, great. Otherwise, combine this chore with other services when you head to the mechanic.

Make an Emergency Kit

Staying safe means being ready for breakdowns in winter weather. Your emergency kit should include food, enough for everyone who is likely to travel in the car. You also need sturdy shoes, warm coats, emergency blankets, hats and gloves, and a two-way radio in case the storm causes major interference with cell towers.

Check Windshield Wipers

Rain, rain, go away! That’s not what you want to be saying because you have crummy wipers, right? Fix ‘em!

These tips and others will help you coast gracefully through winter into spring.


How to Drive Safely in Strong Wind and Rain

Aug 26

Driving in conditions that involve strong or heavy wind and rain may not seem like the most pressing safety concern for many drivers, but our safety professionals know that driving in any type of severe weather can significantly increase your risk and potential for a dangerous situation for you, your family and other drivers. Remember that severe weather demands your undivided attention, so be sure to reduce any possible distractions by turning the radio down or turning off that phone to keep your attention fully on the road. Keep in mind that sometimes the best driving decision you can make is to stay off the road completely until the weather clears.

Driving in Heavy Winds

Wind may seem like a minor risk, but this weather condition deserves special consideration from drivers. Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces. Areas for concern also include highway overpasses, tunnels and ‘road cuts’ through mountainous areas that can act as funnels for wind. The following tips can help keep you on the road and safe if you encounter heavy winds.

1. Anticipate gusts. Take special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather.

2. Notice larger vehicles. Be aware of large vehicles on the road such as tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles. They are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulties staying in their lanes.

3. Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.

Driving in Heavy Rain

In addition to the potentially poor visibility that accompanies most heavy rain, drivers should be ready to protect themselves against hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can occur when a vehicle is traveling too fast in heavy rain conditions, causing the vehicle’s tires to travel on a thin layer of water rather than grip the surface of the road. This has the potential to make steering and braking difficult and could even lead to losing control of your vehicle. Follow these tips to help you stay safe while driving in heavy rain.

1. Take your time. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from hydroplaning. Also remember that one of the most dangerous times to drive is soon after it begins to rain, as oils on roadway make for slick conditions. Waiting a few minutes, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.

2. Turn your lights on. Turn your headlights on to help other vehicles see you. Many states require the use of headlights during rain, even in broad daylight.

3. Give other vehicles more space. Add 1-2 extra seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you and the cars behind you more time to react to traffic.

For more tips on driving in severe weather like tornadoes and hail, click here.


Five Safe Driving Tips for New Teen Drivers

Mar 25

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more teens dies from motor vehicle crashes than from any other cause. Protect your teens with five safe driving tips.

1. Turn off the Phone

Talking or texting on a cellphone, even one that’s hands-free, produces the same results as driving while drunk. Plus, many states have laws against drivers talking on cellphones. To be safe, teens should turn off their phones and stay focused on the road when they get behind the wheel.

2. Follow the Speed Limit

Speed contributes to up to 40 percent of fatal teen accidents. Instead of driving fast to keep up with traffic or to show off, teen drivers stay safe when they follow the speed limit. This tip applies especially when teens drive on unfamiliar roads, in the midst of heavy traffic or during inclement weather, but it’s also important every day.

3. Reduce Distractions

Loud music, cold sodas and engaging conversation have their place at a party but not in the car. Teen drivers must focus on the task at hand and reduce distractions that may prevent them from seeing obstacles, obeying posted signs or maintaining control of the vehicle.

4. Practice Defensive Driving

Defensive driving allows teens to maintain safe following distances, obey signs and plan an escape route. Most drivers develop this mindset over time, but smart teens practice these skills from the time they first earn their driving license.

5. Drive a Safe Car

Employing safe driving techniques is an important factor when keeping teen drivers safe on the road, but the vehicle can play a role too. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes, air bags, backup assist and electronic stability control can protect teens.

Keeping teen drivers safe is possible with these five tips. Likewise, be sure to purchase adequate auto insurance on each vehicle. Call your Raley Watts and O’Neill Insurance Agent today to update your policies and for additional safe teen driving tips.

Sources: Five Safe Driving Tips for New Teen Drivers