Keep driving distractions to a minimum.

Cell phones are an obvious distraction, but there are countless others.

Visual distractions take the motorist's eyes off the roadway. Road signs, billboards, crash scenes, construction zones, landscape vistas, and GPS mapping fall into this category. Manual distractions take the driver's hands off the steering wheel. These include eating, drinking, adjusting controls, reaching for objects, and grooming. Cognitive distractions cause the driver to lose concentration. Activities already mentioned take the motorist's mind off driving, as do talking (even on a hands-free device), visitng with passengers, and daydreaming.

Drivers can take proactive steps to minimize distractions. Start with making a deliberate decision to remain focused every time you sit in the driver's seat. Other ideas:

  • Cell Phones. Illinois law allows drivers over 19 to use hands-free devices with certain restrictions. However, hands-free is not risk-free. Consider turning off the cell phone, disabling text messages, or setting up an auto-response to let callers know you're unavailable to talk or text. Never text, email, or record video while driving. Studies show that these activities take eyes off the road for five or more seconds. The driver cannot adjust for sudden braking ahead, debris on the road, etc. during this time. Find a safe location to pull off the road if you need to use your cell phone.
  • Inside the Car. Program the route on GPS before you leave. Adjust seat position, temperature control, music selection, and mirrors. Organize the IPASS, money for tolls, and other essentials for the trip ahead. Stow loose gear. Avoid eating, drinking, grooming, and smoking while driving. Crate your pet for transportation.
  • Passengers. Insist all riders buckle up. Securely strap children into car seats. Find a place to stop when they need attention. Engage the front seat passenger to co-pilot, adjust dash controls, and help you stay focused. Stay away from emotional conversations.

Motorists often turn to an auto insurer for help after a crash. This makes it important to review your insurance policy periodically. Note coverages, review the claim process, and be familiar with policyholder duties after a loss.

Bodily injury and property damage are required by law. Liability pays if you cause an accident and are legally responsible for another person's damages. Be certain liability limits adequately protect your financial assets.

Secure coverage for damage to your vehicle by adding comprehensive and collision to the policy. Choosing high physical damage deductibles reduces the premium, but you'll pay more out-of-pocket when a loss ocurs.

Insurers offer a variety of optional endorsements. A local agent can provide details on extra coverages like towing, rental car reimbursement, uninsured motorist property damage, and more.

Verify your policy has accurate vehicle and driver details. Place an up-to-date insurance identification car in the vehicle glove box.