Defensive Driving
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10 Ways to Help Avoid Getting a Ticket

Encounters with law enforcement are rarely fun. It’s one of the most dreadful feelings in the world when red and blue lights fill your rear-view mirror.


However, traffic stops and being pulled over are a fact of life. Maybe you were speeding. Perhaps that last text message you sent was a little too obvious. It could have been that you ran a red light; it’s even possible you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the case may be, you’re about to be detained on the side of the road for the next few minutes … or more.

SEE ALSO: What NOT to do When Pulled Over

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting a ticket, one that costs you serious cash and could increase your insurance premiums. Here are 10 topical tips that might help you sidestep a citation.

10. Pull Over Quickly

As soon as you see an officer’s strobes or hear the siren, it’s a good idea to pull over as soon as safely possible. Don’t keep driving for block after block or wait for the next exit ramp to stop. You don’t want the officer to think you’re leading them on some kind of chase, so pull over promptly. Also, if you can make it to a side street or a parking lot, it’s even better. The officer will be safer without having to walk along a heavily trafficked thoroughfare and they’ll be thankful for that.

9. Turn Off the Engine


Unless the temps are hovering in the minus 40-degree range, it’s usually a good idea to shut off your vehicle’s engine during traffic stops. This act of good faith lets the law-enforcement representative involved know you’re not going to try to run. In certain situations, officers will ask you to kill the engine anyway, so be prepared to comply with this request if necessary.

8. Keep Your Hands on the Wheel

Once you’ve pulled over, it’s always prudent to keep your paws on the tiller — or really anywhere in plain sight — so the police officer can see what you’re doing. With clear visibility, they know you’re not reaching for a concealed weapon or trying to stash incriminating evidence. This can go a long way to putting the officer at ease, which can help you get off with a warning instead of extra paperwork.

7. Turn on Interior Lights


Likewise, during nighttime traffic stops, it’s prudent to turn on your vehicle’s interior lights. This gives the officer better visibility and will help them feel a little less stressed because they can see what’s happening. And honestly, would you want to approach a darkened car in the dead of night?

6. Silence is Golden

After promptly pulling over, killing the engine and keeping your hands in plain sight, it’s extremely important to turn off the radio and/or hang up the phone. Failing to do either shows contempt for the officer involved. If you don’t show a little respect for their authority, they’re unlikely to be kind to you. This is common sense, but it actually happens. Don’t be one of those people.

5. Keep ‘em Quiet


Aside from silencing your phone and vehicle’s audio system, it behooves you to tell any passengers to remain quiet during traffic stops. For clarity, only one person should interact with the police officer(s) involved. Also, it’s wise to have your fellow travelers keep their hands visible.

4. Don’t Lie

Unless your tail light burned out three minutes beforehand, chances are you know exactly why you’ve been pulled over. Accordingly, don’t try to lie to the officer that just pulled you over. You weren’t swerving all over the road because of an allergy attack; you didn’t have to drive 90 miles an hour because your wife is having a baby. Cops have finely calibrated BS meters, so don’t try to mislead them; they can see through your smokescreen like radar piercing through clouds.

3. Stay Put


One thing you should never EVER do during a traffic stop is get out of your vehicle. The only time it’s acceptable to exit your car or truck is when requested to do so by an officer. Otherwise, getting out of the car is a big no-no and is extremely unnerving to law enforcement. One of the best things you can do is just stay put; naturally, the same applies to passengers as well.

2. A Little Politeness Goes a Long Way

Guess what? If you’re nice to the police officer, chances are they’ll reciprocate. Lose the bad attitude, answer their questions and act in a courteous manner. Being on your best behavior can really help you sidestep a ticket. Be friendly and polite.

1. Don’t Argue

And finally, if you do end up receiving a “reward” don’t argue with the officer that gave it to you. They did what they’re required to do and now is not the time to protest. Arguing or cussing them out could get you in more trouble, so please, accept your citation and continue on your way. Of course, if you feel you’ve been wronged, by all means fight the ticket, but do so in an official manner by taking it to court.

Check out our Tips and Advice Section.

Tips to Help Prevent Vehicle Theft

Tips to Help Prevent Vehicle Theft

Each year nearly one million vehicles are stolen in the United States. That’s $6.4 billion in stolen goods every year with a car stolen every 33 seconds. Because only about 57.2% of those vehicles are ever recovered. We want you to be equipped with the best tips and pointers for keeping your vehicle safe.

We know it’s important to protect the things that matter to you. Your car doesn’t just transport you from point A to point B; it’s an investment. Taking some simple steps toward additional theft prevention precautions can help you avoid becoming a statistic, and keep your car exactly where you left it. The best part? Insurance carriers have anti-theft discounts that reward you for safeguarding your vehicle.

The Fundamentals

Protecting your car doesn’t have to be expensive. The easiest ways to protect your vehicle from theft are free of cost and may already be second nature to you. These good habits may help reduce your risk of theft significantly.

Many of today’s newer vehicles come equipped with factory-installed security systems. While these help deter theft, there are some additional simple precautions that you can take whether or not you have a security system in your car:


  • Don’t make it easy for thieves. Always remember to lock your doors and remove valuables from plain view.


  • Remove your keys from your ignition and keep them in a safe place, like your pocket or handbag.


  • Ensure that your windows are completely closed.


  • Park in well-lit areas whenever possible.


Make Some Noise and Cause a Ruckus

There’s a reason car alarms are loud and obnoxious: causing a scene helps to deter vehicle theft . Installing an audible alarm system and placing alarm system identification marks on your vehicle send a message that would-be thieves should think twice about breaking into your car. Layering additional security measures like theft-deterrent decals, steering column collars, steering wheel and brake pedal locks, and window etchings only help to reinforce the message that your car is secure.

Stopping Thieves in Their Tracks

Technology is helping cars get smarter and harder to steal. Adding vehicle immobilizer devices and tracking systems greatly reduce your vehicle’s risk of being stolen, and significantly increase the likelihood of having your vehicle recovered if stolen. Installing immobilizers like fuse cut-off switches; kill switches; smart keys with computer chips; and starter, ignition and fuel disablers all help prevent thieves from getting away with your car if it’s “hotwired.” Vehicle tracking systems can be associated with your VIN and emit a signal to police or a monitoring service in the event that your car is stolen.

What are Insurance carriers Doing to Help Deter Auto Theft?

On top of offering discounts to encourage people to equip their cars with anti-theft devices , Insurance carriers have also donated Bait Cars to law enforcement agencies around the country . These specially equipped vehicles are outfitted with advanced technology and used by local law enforcement officials to catch car thieves in action. Bait cars look just like any other car, but they have hidden security features to remotely monitor any theft and disable the vehicle so that the car stops and locks the thief inside.

5 Common Moving Mistakes to Avoid

5 Common Moving Mistakes to Avoid There’s more to a successful move than throwing your stuff in boxes and renting a truck. Successful relocation is like running a small company-it requires careful planning, budgeting, and strategy. Overlook those factors and you may be looking at a recipe for disaster. Read on to learn the 5 most common moving mistakes people make and how you can avoid them.

#1: “Winging It” Instead of Planning Ahead Relocation is a huge job and procrastination is your worst enemy. Even seemingly small moves, like moving a studio apartment across town, can be nerve-racking and costly if they’re not well planned. If you have the luxury of time, you should start planning your move months-yes, months-in advance. Start making travel arrangements, look into moving companies, pack, and get your financial and logistical affairs in order as early as possible. Start keeping a specific notebook or binder for moving-related information. Keep all your records in it, from copies of the moving estimate to restaurant suggestions in your new neighborhood. There’s a lot to do, but here’s a good start: use our  Moving Checklist and People to Contact worksheet to help you create a plan of action.

#2: Bad Timing and Poor Scheduling Timing is key. Favorable weather means the summer months are typically the most hectic time of year for moving companies. However, spring and autumn can get very busy, too. And remember that moving companies may not be available if you’re moving close to a holiday. Start researching your options for moving companies a month to two before your moving date. The last thing you want is to be stuck with an unknown or unreliable moving company, high rates, or the nightmare scenario: no moving company at all. If you’re planning to drive your own moving truck, make sure you schedule the rental well ahead of the day you actually need it. Find out the exact dimensions of the truck’s cargo space, and maybe even swing by the rental company to get an idea of the space you’ll require and whether a 13-foot truck’s really up to the job. Even the day of the week you pick can affect your move. Higher demand means companies often charge top dollar for weekend moves and truck rentals, and the increased daytime traffic also means more time that your belongings will be in transit.

#3: Choosing a Less-than-Reputable Moving Company Research is critical here. Choosing the wrong moving company can mean stolen or damaged property, a move that is far more expensive and longer than originally quoted, and being overcharged for things like packing tape. And once all your stuff’s in their truck, you’re in a terrible position to argue. Though you might find some great deals on the Internet, think about following a personal referral from family or friends. If that’s not possible, check with your realtor or a moving trade organization to find local moving companies with a solid reputation and years of experience. Check out trustworthy websites offering real customer feedback to see what clients say about their experiences with the company. Find out if the mover has a DOT (Department of Transportation) number and enter it in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER system to make sure they’re adequately insured. You can also give the DOT a call at 1-888-368-7238 to find out if there are any complaints about the company. Here are some questions to ask before you hire a moving company: Do they have references? Will they do an in-home estimate? Is their company going to be handling the move or are they going to hire a subcontractor? If they use a subcontractor, what’s the name, location, and phone number of the company they’re hiring? Will this move require any special arrangements, like a transfer from the semi truck to a smaller local truck to help navigate big-city streets? This may affect the cost of the move and increase the risk of damage to your belongings.

#4: Moving with Unnecessary Items Indiscriminately jamming everything you own into boxes might seem like the simplest way of packing, but it also guarantees needless stress and expense. For one thing, extra stuff equals extra weight, so you may end up overpaying your movers or overstressing your own back. Moving gives you a perfect opportunity to cull your possessions. Use your move to get rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore, books you’ve already read, outdated technology, and more. Our Household Inventory worksheet and our Digital Locker tool can help here-make a detailed list of all of your belongings and you’ll be more able to see what’s truly essential and what’s just dead weight. Also check out Ten Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Move for smart ideas about optimizing your move.

#5: Insufficient or Nonexistent Insurance for Valuables Moving is tough on your stuff. Even if every item you own is carefully packed and handled by experienced movers, accidents happen. Get familiar with your insurance options before your move. That way, when things are at their most stressful on moving day, you can rest assured that if anything gets damaged, you’re covered. Call your moving company to find out the details of its liability coverage policies. This coverage will either be based on the total weight of your items, the assessed value of your items, or the full value of replacement of your items. Weight-based coverage might cover about $0.30 – $0.60 a pound . So if a mover drops your 35 lb. state-of-the-art stereo system, you could be looking at a reimbursement of about $10. The good news is that if you have an Homeowners or Renters Insurance policy, your belongings are likely covered in the event of a moving mishap that occurs in transit .

5 Hidden Dangers in Your Home—and How to Foil Them

5 Hidden Dangers in Your Home—and How to Foil Them Posted by debbie_hanson on Jun 20, 2012 6:06:34 AM

It can sometimes be difficult to remember all the little things we should be doing to keep our families safe. As a mother of three boys, I know this all too well. Luckily there are a lot of observances during the year that remind us to take time out from our busy lives and think about safety. June is Home Safety Month, for instance. For all you fellow parents out there, here are what I believe to be the top five hidden home dangers, along with my stay-safe solutions.


HIDDEN DANGER #1: Carbon monoxide

You can’t see it, and you can’t smell it, but carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the U.S. It’s produced by improperly working appliances, fireplaces, and it can even seep into the house from a running car in the garage.


STAY-SAFE SOLUTION #1: Carbon monoxide alarms

The only way to detect carbon monoxide? With an alarm. These should be installed on every level of the home, including the basement, and outside each sleeping area. Check with your fire department to see what local and state laws require in terms of placement. And be sure to have your appliances checked regularly.


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HIDDEN DANGER #2: Kitchen gadgets and equipment

Cooking equipment is, and has long been, the leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The most common sources: stovetops, ovens, rotisseries, microwaves, portable cooking units, and barbecue or hibachi grills.


STAY-SAFE SOLUTION #2: Fire extinguishers

Unattended cooking is the main reason behind home fires, so start by staying in the kitchen when you’re using the stovetop, checking food frequently when it’s in the oven, and keeping the range clear of anything that can catch fire. But even for those who consider themselves Top Chef contenders, I recommend keeping a fire extinguisher or extinguishing spray on hand to prevent a small kitchen fire from growing out of control.


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HIDDEN DANGER #3: Foundation cracks

If you’re like many homeowners, you’re probably unfamiliar with radon: the second leading cause of lung cancer (behind smoking). This odorless, radioactive gas can move up from the soil and enter the home through cracks in the foundation. Even if you don’t have a basement, radon can still enter your home through cracks around service pipes and construction joints.


STAY-SAFE SOLUTION #3: Radon test kits

You can’t see or smell radon, but you can easily test for it with an at-home kit. Rest assured, though, even if you come up with an elevated result, radon is fixable: the EPA says some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels by up to 99 percent.



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HIDDEN DANGER #4: Rapid fires

It’s little known how fast home fires can spread. From the time a smoke alarm sounds, your family can have as little as two minutes to escape safely before the fire spreads throughout your home, according to the National Fire Protection Association.


STAY-SAFE SOLUTION #4: Home escape plan

Your ability to escape from a home fire depends on advance warning from a smoke alarm but, also, from advance planning with an escape plan. Shockingly, though, only 29 percent of families have ever practiced their fire escape plan, according to one of our recent surveys. I recommend practicing your plan regularly—at least twice a year—so that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire. You might even consider holding a drill at night


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HIDDEN DANGER #5: Home theft

While not exactly a “hidden” danger, home theft is something that’s frequently overlooked. You might think it’ll never happen to you, but the reality is that a home is broken into every 14 seconds in the United States, according to the FBI.


STAY-SAFE SOLUTION #5: Residential safes

There are basic ways to deter burglars from getting inside your home: install solid core entry doors with sturdy deadbolt locks; properly light entries; install metal grates over basement windows; and trim bushes so there are fewer places to hide. But you’ll enjoy extra piece of mind by storing your most valuable possessions in a safe (consider one that’s both waterproof and fireproof to keep items safe from the elements too).


Have you discovered any other hidden home dangers? Share your safety tips below?



Guest blogger Debbie Hanson is director of external affairs for First Alert, a trusted brand in home safety products.

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Boat

By Rob Barton & Tobi Roberts, Bass Pro Shops


So you’re ready to purchase that new boat, but you’re not quite sure what you need? Here are a few things to consider that can help make that decision a little easier.


1. What is your budget?

Before you even step on the lot to look at a boat, you need to have a budget in mind. Buying a boat can be easy, but you have to go into it knowing what you can comfortably afford. Starting with a number in mind will help keep this process smooth and enjoyable. Once you have this taken care of, it’s time to find the boat that best fits your needs.


2. What kind of boat have you owned before, or do you own currently?

If you have owned a boat before, you can use that experience to help you determine the type of new boat that will fit your needs. What about your previous boat you would change? What would you want to stay the same?


3. What do you want to do with your boat? Fish? Ski? Go tubing?

It might surprise the first-time boat buyer, but not all boats are created for the same purpose. Knowing what you want to do with your boat is always one of the first steps in your buying experience. It will quickly help you narrow your search.

4. Yes, but what do you see yourself doing with this boat 90% of the time?

Too many times, boat buyers get caught up in all of the things that they may do with their boat, and they end up choosing something that doesn’t fit their primary need.


If the main purpose of the boat is fishing, with the occasional skier in tow, you are looking for a sport boat, similar to theNitro Z-7 Sport. This type of boat combines the features of a fishing boat (trolling motor and fishing decks) with the tow pylon and swivel seats that water sport enthusiasts enjoy.


If your boat is being used for the exact opposite, you are likely looking for a ski and fish boat like the Tahoe Q7 SF. Ski and fish boats are built primarily for water sports, but have a low-enough profile and large-enough deck space to please the casual angler.


5. What is the monthly or yearly insurance going to cost for the new boat?

This is something that most new boat buyers overlook. While most boat insurance is relatively inexpensive when you compare it to other types of insurance, it’s something that you will still want to consider.


Most boaters only keep insurance for the required time period, but we recommend having it for the life of your boat. The number of boaters continues to rise and the number of boating accidents is naturally doing the same. Having insurance not only protects your purchase, it also protects you and your passengers—and taking a boating safety course might even earn you a discount.


Answering these five questions when you’re buying your next boat will go a long way to making the process go much smoother, and helping you find the perfect boat!


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Comprehensive Coverage
Uninsured & Underins
Collision Coverage
Liability Insurance