At Century-National Insurance, we know only you can avoid accidents and fines. That's why we've put together some Safe Driving Tips to help you become a better, and safer, driver. Keep these tips in mind every time you get behind the wheel. It will make driving on our roads a safer experience for everyone.

Stay Alert. One of the most important things to remember while behind the wheel is to stay alert and aware of what is going on all around you. Don't allow your eyes to focus on one point for too long, which can have a hypnotic effect. Instead, keep your eyes moving, from the car in front of you, to the car in back of you and to the cars beside you. This will allow you to identify potential problems from all angles.

Stay Awake. Believe it or not, one of the greatest road hazards is driving with a lack of sleep or while drowsy. Driving requires you to be aware of everything around you, and drowsiness can seriously impair your ability to do so. If you feel yourself getting tired, pull over and exercise, take a break, or even a nap. While driving, exercise your eyes by keeping them moving, reading signs and shifting your focus.

Drive Defensively. Always be prepared for the unexpected and be ready to react to the drivers around you. You should never expect the other driver to do what you think he or she should do, and you should be prepared to act defensively if they don't. The best way to do this is to always leave yourself a way out of every driving situation. Giving yourself ample "space cushions" between you and other drivers is a good start. Remember, your safety should never be left up to other drivers.

Always Stay Two Seconds Behind. To avoid tailgating, always use the two-second rule when following another vehicle. Select a fixed object on the road such as a sign, tree or overpass. When the vehicle ahead passes that object, you should be able to count out two full seconds before you pass the same object. If not, you are following too close. If you are driving in wet weather conditions (rain, snow, fog, etc.), you should increase your distance to four or five seconds behind.

Watch Your Speed. It goes without saying that you should always stay within posted speed limits. But sometimes weather and traffic conditions will dictate that you stay well below the posted limits. You should monitor your speed at all times with safety in mind. And use common sense - if it is not safe to travel at the posted limit, slow down. It's better to arrive at your destination a little late than not get there at all.

Avoid Distractions. Unnecessary driver distractions are the cause of more accidents than you think. Avoid the following activities while moving behind the wheel. If you have to perform one of these activities, pull over where it is safe to do so:

  • Eating or drinking

  • Applying makeup

  • Talking on a cellular phone

  • Searching for a CD or cassette tape

  • Trying to find a radio station

  • Operating a DVD/Navigation system

  • Reading the newspaper/work papers

  • Adjusting a child's Safety Seat

  • Interacting with passengers

Respect The Weather. Mother Nature can create many different driving hazards, so take special care in fog, rain, snow, high winds and other adverse weather conditions:

Fog - It is best not to drive in foggy conditions, but if you have to, the most important rule is to slow down. Drive with your headlights set on dim, or use your foglamps, but do not use your brights. This may impair your vision. If the fog becomes too dense,

pull off the roadway and stop, but do not get out of your car. As conditions become safe, signal and slowly pull back onto the roadway.

Rain - Wet conditions combined with dust, oil and other debris on the roads may cause the roads to be slippery. Take special care on curves and while braking, and increase the distance between you and the car in front of you. During heavier rains, your car may "hydroplane," or ride on a layer of water in the roadway. If this occurs, release the accelerator and try to regain control by riding it out. Do not slam on your brakes, this will only cause you to lose further control. In all rainy conditions, you should drive with your headlights on so that other drivers can see you.

Snow and Ice - If you are traveling in snow or icy conditions, you should be prepared. Carry chains and a change of warm clothing in your vehicle. Be sure that your vehicle is prepared mechanically - lights, brakes, windshield wipers, turn signals, radiator and other parts should be in working order. If chains are required, pull over to a safe place to put them on. In snow or icy conditions, always drive slowly. Start out slow to determine how much traction you have, and brake early and gently for stops and turns. If you begin to skid or slide, release the accelerator and turn in to the slide to regain control. Do not slam on your brakes. In icy conditions, approach bridges, shaded areas and overpasses slowly - they may remain icy after the rest of the roadway is clear.

High Winds - High winds make driving difficult for all drivers, but especially difficult for drivers of trucks, SUV's, recreational vehicles, campers and trailers. Stay alert when approaching any of these vehicles in high winds, and try not to drive close to them on the side. If you drive one of these vehicles, slow down and pay special attention to making steering corrections. If winds become too intense, it may be best to pull over to the side of the road.

Practice Proper Child Safety. Safety experts say that 80-90 percent of child safety seats are installed or used incorrectly. Follow these tips to ensure your child is properly protected when driving:

  • Infants should ride in a rear-facing child safety seat in the rear seat of the vehicle. Infants one year or older, or those weighing over 20 lbs. may ride facing forward. If your vehicle has a front passenger-side airbag, your child should ride in the rear seat until age 12.

  • Make sure the safety seat is held firmly in place by the vehicle's safety belt, and make sure that the belt travels through the correct path. Check the safety seat instruction book for guidance.

  • Keep your child in a safety seat with a full harness as long as possible, at least until 40 lbs. Then use a belt-positioning booster seat with an adult lap and shoulder belt between 40-80 lbs. An adult lap and shoulder belt system alone will not fit most children until they are at least 4'9" tall and weigh about 80 lbs.

Obey All Traffic Laws. Traffic laws are meant to ensure your safety, not restrict you from driving freely. The best way to avoid accidents and costly traffic fines is to know and obey all traffic laws. You should refresh your memory on local traffic laws every 12-18 months. Just visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles office to pick up a Driver's Handbook.

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