The Hidden Hazards of Summer Vehicles

The temperature’s hot, the water’s cool, your summer vehicles are all shined up, and your next cookout is so close you can taste the char marks. We know exactly what this time of year screams: POP QUIZ!

Ok, so maybe a quiz is the last thing on your mind while you’re in the throes of summer. But the fact is, safety needs to be an important part of your long-term summer plans.

With that in mind, just how well do you know your toys of summer? Test your knowledge of summer vehicles and take your warm-weather whimsies to new (and safer) heights.

 1. Drinking and boating is … 

a)    Frowned upon, but not a big deal

b)    Just as bad as drinking and driving, if not worse

c)    Illegal on all days except holidays

d)    Proven to cancel out the effects of seasickness

Answer: B. The elements that surround you out on the water — wind, bright sun, motor noise, wave motion — tend to amplify the effects of alcohol, which means 1 drink on the water equals 3 on land. In fact, at just .035 percent BAC, a boater’s ability to drive becomes impaired. So it’s no surprise that drinking and boating is illegal, just like drinking and driving (yes, even on holidays).

2. Drinking and boating causes what percentage of fatal boating accidents per year?

a)     5 percent

b)    12 percent

c)    16 percent

d)    34 percent

Answer: C. Alcohol plays a major role in 16 percent of boating deaths — in fact, it’s the number one overall cause.

3. Which of the following is true of average Jet Ski® or personal watercraft (PWC) owners?

a)    They really regret the “European-cut” Speedo® as they hit that first big wave

b)    They share their PWC/Jet Ski with an average of 3 other riders per day

c)    They have a mortal feud with traditional boaters

d)    Their vehicles are involved in more fatalities than boats

Answer: B. It’s important to remember that the person riding that Jet Ski might not actually own it. Sure, many people who buy a PWC are knowledgeable about safety … but is their novice-rider buddy who took it out for a quick sunset spin?

4. All terrain vehicles (ATVs) can travel at speeds of …

a)    25 mph

b)    35 mph

c)    50 mph

d)    60 mph or more

Answer: D. Yep, believe it or not, ATVs can go over 60 mph! To help ensure ATV safety, wear your protective gear, avoid carrying passengers, and take a riding class. Oh, and of course, mind your speed.

5. Riders in a motorcycle group should be spaced …

a)    In a relatively tight, staggered formation

b)    Single file

c)    As far from one another as possible

d)    In the shape of the Harley Davidson logo

Answer: A. If you’re celebrating the warm summer days with an invigorating motorcycle group ride, you might be tempted to drift from your other riders or follow right behind them. But the safest way to ride in a group is in a tight, staggered formation with riders alternating sides of the lane. This formation ensures your group can be easily spotted and gives you room to maneuver.    

6. What’s the proper way to make a Segway turn?

a)    Leaning into the turn

b)    Leaning away from the turn

c)    While singing along to Donna Summer

d)    Bending at the knees slightly and not leaning

Answer: A. Turning a Segway can be quite tricky (and dangerous). Just turn the steering grip slowly and lean into your curve to help maintain balance.

7. Nearly half of golf cart-related injuries come from …

a)    Frontal collisions

b)    Rear collisions

c)    People falling out of the cart

d)    “Double-Bogey” rage

Answer: C. Chances are you won’t give a second thought to golf cart safety as you hit the course this summer. But because your average golf cart lacks seat belts, doors, and stability controls, it’s a riskier vehicle than you might think. When you’re on the links or road, be sure to keep your hands, arms, and feet … oh, just keep yourself inside the cart.

8. True or false: scooters/mopeds are safer than motorcycles.

Answer: False. Just because your scooter or moped is slower than a motorcycle doesn’t mean it’s automatically safer. In fact, more accidents happen on 35-mph-and-under roads than on interstates. Even for scooter riders, summer vehicle safety is always important.

How’d you do?

Hopefully you got a helpful refresher on summer vehicle safety and are ready to hit the trails, street, or water in style.

Need insurance for your summer toys? Motorcycle insurance offers coverage for a range of nifty rides.

Related links

Prepare for this summer (and many more) with 5 predictions on future motorcycle trends

View our top 3 boating safety tips before you hit the water this summer

DUI Statistics and the Fourth of July

This week marks American independence, and with parties and parades planned from Portland to Philadelphia, it’s the biggest birthday bash of the entire year. The Fourth of July weekend means picnics and beach parties, fireworks and flags, sun tea and sparklers, and lots of road trips.

Independence Day data: the celebratory, and the scary

Some 34.4 million Americans are expected to travel by car this Independence Day weekend, and there’s probably a BBQ at the end of many of their trips. Last Fourth of July, Americans had around 74 million BBQs, grilled an estimated 155 million hot dogs, and cracked open about 68 million cases of beer. In fact, more beer is sold on Uncle Sam’s birthday than on any other holiday (including St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve).

Unfortunately, all those comings and goings, combined with well-stocked coolers, means more drunk drivers on the road. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tells us the Fourth of July is the worst day of the year for fatal car crashes. And, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 40 percent of all highway deaths between 2007 and 2011 were caused by drunk driving over the Fourth of July weekend.

DUI statistics: what it costs

Obviously, driving drunk can have a terrible price. But even if you’re fortunate enough to avoid an accident, you could end up paying a lot. For starters, a DUI can triple your car insurance premium for as long as 5 years. So that means if you pay $150 a month now, your premium could increase to $450 a month. Spread that extra $300 a month over the next 5 years and you will have paid $18,000(!) extra for the same coverage.

Once you have a DUI on your record, your car insurance company considers you a high-risk driver and will charge you a higher rate to offset the added risk. Additionally, you might not qualify for any car insurance discounts you may have been receiving prior to your DUI (such as good driver or claim-free), causing your rates to increase even further.

Of course, the numbers vary by state and circumstance, but after you add in fines, court costs, and DMV fees, the average DUI costs between $5,000 and $25,000. Compound all that needless expense with the inherent dangers of drinking and driving — along with the fact that you could lose your life, take someone else’s, or wind up spending time in jail — and the reasons for staying smart and safe this weekend become more than evident.

So consider this a friendly reminder from a friendly car insurance company to avoid drunk (or even tipsy) driving this holiday weekend. Whatever you have planned, from a picnic in the park to fireworks on the beach, have a great Fourth and stay safe.

Related posts

Top 5 Traits of a Designated Driver
The Drunk-Driving Debate

4 Weird Car Traditions Explained

Have you ever wondered where certain car traditions came from — like hanging fuzzy dice from the rearview mirror or tying tin cans to a bride and groom’s car? Well, wonder no more! In honor of summer (wedding season, road trip season, cruising season, and, er, tchotchke season), we dug up the history and legend behind some common customs.

1. Tying cans behind a newlywed couple’s car

There are a few different theories about this, but the practice most likely stems from the old French tradition of charivari, in which friends (and frenemies) would show up late at night outside the home of the just-married couple and serenade them noisily with pots, pans, and anything else that made a racket. This would continue until the newlyweds invited the revelers in for refreshments. French settlers brought the practice to the American frontier, where it was known as shivaree.

In more recent times, neighbors have become, ahem, less tolerant of cookware-wielding mobs in the wee hours, so people started tying tin or aluminum cans to the back of the wedding car instead. Since the wedding guests would’ve had their food and drink, the point now seems to be more about embarrassing the couple. Aw, how sweet!

2. Lifting your feet when driving over railroad tracks

Again, the folklore on this varies somewhat, but in general, people do it for luck. Superstitions about crossroads have abounded in many cultures for centuries, so this may be one modern version. Apparently, it also helps if you touch the roof of the car with your fingers as you lift your feet. Some say that if you don’t, you’ll lose your sweetheart.

Honking your horn in a tunnel is also supposed to be good luck since honking is said to frighten away evil spirits. (You don’t want them following you on vacation or joining you on your commute, right?) Then again, some people just like to hear the echo. My burning question is this: Why must the tune always be “Shave and a Haircut”?

3. Cruising

When I was a teenager growing up in Reno, Nevada, the thing to do on Saturday nights was drive slowly up and down Virginia Street, past the casinos and under the arch that spelled out “Biggest Little City in the World” in lights. We did it to meet boys (definitely not to show off my four-door orange Datsun). But this tradition started as a way to display one’s seriously tricked-out ride.

The custom of cruising originated with the Mexican American communities of Southern California. Some believe it’s an extension of the Mexican tradition of el paseo, when villagers would stroll through the center of their town in the early evenings, dressed in their finest. For Mexican American teenagers in the late 30s, that finery meant a zoot suit and a beautifully restored, lowered Chevy.

One of the first (if not the first) cruising routes in the U.S. was Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles. A mecca for lowriders since the 1940s, this strip reached its heyday in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and remained popular until the late ‘90s when cruising on the Boulevard was finally banned. Other legendary cruising strips include Woodward Avenue in Detroit and McHenry Avenue in Modesto (where the film American Graffiti was set).

4. Fuzzy dice

A pair of plush dice swinging from the rearview mirror has been a fixture of hot-rod culture since the 1950s. According to legend, this trend originated with American pilots in WWII who placed dice (with 7s showing) in the cockpits of their planes for good luck on their missions. After the war, many of those pilots shifted their need for speed from airplanes to street rods and kept the dice tradition alive. Plastic dice had a tendency to melt (along with the good luck, presumably) so the plush version became popular instead.

Got more burning questions? Here are the thrilling tales behind the automotive world’s most incredible hood ornaments, and some traffic laws that’ll make you do a double-take.





Esurance Dream Road Trip — Pin It to Win It Sweepstakes

Ever wish you had more to show for your pinning than subpar cake pops and disappointing crayon “art”?

Now’s your chance! Enter the Esurance Dream Road Trip — Pin It to Win It Sweepstakes and you could win the road trip of a lifetime. Whether you’ve been plotting your way up the coast of California or itching to go from Boston to the Bayou, we’ll help get you there.

The Prizes

One grand prize winner will get $1,400 to spend on ground transportation (Rental car? Bus? Train trip?!), a $1,200 gas card, and $5,000 to stock up on all the beef jerky and soda necessary for that trip down Route 66.

Two other lucky winners will score a $1,000 gas card or a GoPro camera — the perfect gear to get you to Girls’ Weekend in Vegas or help you capture the sunset over the Great Lakes.

How to Enter the Sweepstakes

Step 1. Visit us on Facebook

“Like” us on Facebook and visit the Esurance Dream Road Trip — Pin It to Win It Sweepstakes tab.

Step 2. Create your board

Follow the instructions within the tab to create your Esurance Dream Road Trip — Pin It to Win It board.

Step 3. Get pinning!

Never travel without your favorite shades? Can’t get out of your neighborhood without a Garmin? Pin it and be sure to include one of the categories below in your pin description with the hashtag #EsuranceDreamRoadTrip.

In order to provide a valid entry, just pin one photo in each category by July 12 at 11:59 p.m. The categories are:

  1. Main sweepstakes image
  2. My dream road trip destination
  3. The person riding shotgun
  4. The car I would drive
  5. My favorite road trip snack
  6. Something I can’t travel without
  7. My favorite Esurance Blog ( image
  8. Best roadside attraction
  9. Technology I couldn’t live without
  10. Summer travel feels like this

So show us what your perfect summer road trip looks like! Your pins may pay off and send you on the drive of a lifetime.

Lucky winners will be selected at random and notified by email around July 19.

Legal spiel

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Enter at, follow the on-screen links and instructions, follow Sponsor on Pinterest, then create and title a personal pinboard “Esurance Dream Road Trip” and pin at least one picture for each category requested, providing a caption that lists the pin number, pin title, and hashtag, all provided by Sponsor. Subject to Official Rules.

Starts 7/1/13 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time (PT), ends 7/12/13 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Open to 25+ all U.S. and DC, excluding FL and NY, limit 1 entry.  Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depends on number of eligible entries received. Sponsor: Esurance Insurance Services, Inc. 650 Davis Street, San Francisco, CA 94111.