Introducing Esurance DriveSafe™

With smartphones and fancy infotainment systems vying for our attention, staying focused on the road ahead can be tough for anyone. Teen drivers seem particularly susceptible to distractions on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers ages 16 to 19 are 3 times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be involved a fatal crash. And 21 percent of those accidents are a result of distracted teen drivers using their cell phones.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the launch of Esurance DriveSafe, the latest technology available from Esurance and one specifically designed to help keep your teenagers safe on the road.

What is Esurance DriveSafe?

If you’re an Esurance customer with at least one teen on your policy, you can enroll in Esurance DriveSafe to:

  • Get essential information about your teenager’s driving habits including where they’re headed and how fast they’re going
  • Receive customized alerts if there are instances of risky behavior, like speeding, accelerating too quickly, or driving past curfew
  • Enjoy peace of mind knowing social media and texting are restricted while driving*
  • Create a list of acceptable phone numbers that your teen can always call and receive calls from
  • Feel secure knowing that 911 is always available

Using Bluetooth technology, a small device installed into the teen’s vehicle’s onboard diagnostics port (OBD-II) and the Esurance DriveSafe app (compatible with Android™, iPhone®, and other devices) work together to track the teen’s driving habits and limit cell phone use when the car is in motion.

*When the vehicle is in motion, teens with iPhones will see a banner on their home screen, reminding them not to use their phone while driving. iPhones do not support restriction of phone functionality.

See how Esurance DriveSafe Works

Check out the video below to see how Esurance DriveSafe could help your teen driver stay safe and responsible out on the road.

Learn more about Esurance DriveSafe

If you’re an Esurance customer with at least one teen on your policy, give us a call at
1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) to enroll in Esurance DriveSafe today.

And if you’d like to learn more about how you can take advantage of Esurance DriveSafe and other awesome, innovative tech from Esurance (not to mention great deals on car insurance), give us a call or visit us online.

Related Links

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Distracted Driving: It’s Worse Than You Thought
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7 Surprising Driving Distractions (Infographic)

According to, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, 3,328 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes in 2012. That may not sound like a lot, but when it comes to preventable fatalities, it’s far too many. And that’s not to mention the 421,000 people who were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

There are 3 kinds of distracted driving

Though there are oodles of ways to be distracted, they all break down into 3 basic kinds of distraction: manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual distraction happens when you take your hands off the wheel. Visual distraction happens when you take your eyes off the road. And cognitive distraction occurs when you take your mind off of driving altogether.

Use of your phone typically involves all 3 types of distraction (you reach for your phone, you look at the screen, you consider how to respond to a text or message), making it perhaps the most dangerous thing you can do behind the wheel. But, just because it’s the most dangerous doesn’t mean it’s the only dangerous thing you can do while driving.

Here are 7 other driving distractions that could potentially be deadly.

Manual driving distractions
(those that take your hands off the wheel)

1. Driving with pets

A survey from AAA and Kurgo Pet Products revealed that 84 percent of respondents drove with their pets, but only 16 percent said they used any form of restraint system. What’s more, 52 percent admitted to petting, 13 percent to feeding, and 4 percent to playing with their dogs while driving.

Since we know that answering a text takes about 5 seconds, which is how long it takes to travel the length of a football field, consider the time it takes to try to give Fido a doggie bone or peel Fluffy off the dashboard. Then think about how far your vehicle travels in that time. Learn how to safely travel with pets.

2. Driving with kids

As any parent knows, having children in the car can be quite distracting. In fact, AAA reports that kids are 4 times (and infants 8 times!) more distracting than adults as passengers.

And, according to an ABC News report from earlier this year, an Australian researcher found that “the average parent takes their eyes off the road for a staggering 3 minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip.” (That’s the length of about 40 football fields, if you’re keeping track.) Whether you’re reaching into the backseat to break up a spat or trying to find baby’s binky, having kiddos in the car adds up to a whole lot of distraction. Check out 6 tips for traveling safely with kids.

3. Eating while driving

Per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines, a crash is considered to be related to distracted driving if investigators determine that a driver had been using a technological device or engaged in inattentive or careless activities such as reading, talking, putting on makeup, and yes, eating.

A recent study published by Public Health Reports blames distracted drivers for an increase in pedestrian deaths between 2005 and 2010. According to the study, the number of pedestrians killed by distracted drivers rose by more than 45 percent (and the number of bicyclists by 30 percent) during the 5-year span. Learn the top 5 dangers of eating and driving.

Visual driving distractions
(those that take your eyes off the road)

4. Using GPS while driving

Earlier this year, a California appellate court ruled that using the GPS or mapping functionality on a phone while driving is on par with texting while driving. California is currently the only state to make this illegal, but it seems feasible that other states may eventually follow suit since using GPS involves many of the same distractions as attempting to answer a text while driving. Get tips for using your GPS safely in the other 49 states.

5. Putting on makeup while driving

According to a study released by the NHTSA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), 80 percent of vehicle crashes involve some type of driver distraction. And among the main distractions listed? You guessed it: putting on makeup.

We’d like to provide some tips for safely applying makeup while driving, but there aren’t any. Even if you only take your eyes off the road for a few seconds while fixing your lipstick, that’s long enough to travel several hundred feet and lose focus on what’s happening around your vehicle. It’s dangerous and if you’re in California, it could earn you a ticket.

Cognitive driving distractions
(those that take your mind off of driving)

6. Having to pee while driving

As discussed in a previous post, Rhode Island Hospital released a study in 2011 concluding that having to go to the bathroom (badly) resulted in a “cognitive deterioration” equivalent to a 0.05 blood-alcohol content.

Basically, when you really have to go, your judgment is impaired and your focus is no longer solely on the road. Read more about how having to pee makes you drive like a drunk.

7. Hands-free talking while driving

More and more scientists agree that it’s difficult for the brain to do 2 things at once (at least well). According to a story on NPR, the much-cherished idea of being able to simultaneously juggle numerous tasks is really just a bunch of hype.

The same is true when it comes to driving, and many studies are now finding that hands-free devices are often no safer than hand-held — whether you’re holding a phone or not, your brain is still elsewhere. Anything that takes your mind off the road qualifies as cognitive distraction and, depending on circumstances, could be dangerous. More on distracted driving.

How to avoid distracted driving

So what are you supposed to do? Drive without passengers, the radio, or any kids? While that might be ideal for truly undistracted driving, it’s not likely or possible for most of us. We carpool. We listen to the news. We drive our kids to tae kwon do. And that’s ok.

The key is to minimize distractions as much as possible — and to avoid doing things that have been proven to be dangerous, like texting, answering emails, and putting on makeup. Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your mind on the task of driving.


Related links

Google Glass: Will the latest tech from Google put an end to distracted driving?
More on cognitive distraction: Does music make you an unsafe driver?
Tech to the rescue: 3 distracted driving breakthroughs

5 Green Home Tips This Winter Holiday (and Convincing Cases for Each)

Aside from your perfectly snow-powdered lawn, almost everything else about your home could probably be a little greener this winter holiday. See, in our seasonal quest for friendly gatherings, epic sugar crashes, and feng shui-defying decorations, we tend to waste major energy.

But not this year! We’re offering the gift of 5 ways to green your home and improve the way you celebrate this festive period.

Now, I know some folks stick to their holiday traditions tighter than an over-sapped tree. So, to ease your nerves amid all this change, our green holiday tips also come with the common-sense convincing you need to put them in action.

5 easy steps for a green home this holiday

1. Rethink your tree

The problem: Fake trees may be convenient, but they have a devastating environmental impact. About 80 percent of sham shrubbery is made in China through coal-burning. It’s then transported via diesel-powered ships, and, when disposed, it lies in landfills as non-biodegradable lumps. While some boast about the reusability of fake trees, experts at The Nature Conservancy say the average household only uses theirs for about 5 years.

The solution: Buy a real tree, of course! They’re completely biodegradable, plus you can support local businesses and have a literal green holiday to go along with your earth-conscious one. If you buy a root-ball or container tree (which can be replanted in your yard post holidays), you can avoid any waste and actually contribute to healthier soil and fresher air. Just remember to dig your planting hole before the ground freezes and buy your tree as late as possible.

In case you’re still skeptical, remember: Fake Christmas trees may have a certain kitsch, but in the end, nothing spruces up your living room quite like the real deal (and the smell of pine will instantly put you in a holiday mood).

2. See the light

The problem: Traditional holiday lights. Decorating your yard and home with these bad boys runs your electric usage through the (admittedly colorful) roof.

The solution: LED lights. They use 33 percent less power, last practically forever, and burn cooler, which can lower the risk of fire. The only downside is they are slightly dimmer.

In case you’re still skeptical, remember: That one overzealous neighbor with the breathtaking sense of contrast and never-ending supply of rare ornaments always outshines your light display. Every year. So what’s the harm in changing things up?

3. Cook carefully

The problem: Frequently opening and closing the oven to check the turkey, yams, or next batch of cookies is second nature to many holiday vets. Unfortunately, it does a number on your energy consumption.

The solution: Check food from behind a closed oven door (most ovens have that handy little light) and trust your instincts. If you’re really feeling proactive, you could swap your oven for an ENERGY STAR model — the cherry on top of any green home.

In case you’re still skeptical, remember: Drier meat just means a lot more gravy!

4. Mind the leftover wrapping paper

The problem: Rolls and rolls of paper going into the garbage.

The solution: Keep recycling bins in places where gift wrapping and gift opening happen so family and friends can easily toss their used wrapping paper. You could even reuse your old paper in fun ways, like confetti, gift bag stuffing, shelf lining, or a ball to throw at people who criticize your new shelf lining.

In case you’re still skeptical, remember: The recycling bin is only, like, 6 steps away! I know egg nog makes you sleepy, but, 6 steps!

5. Hesitate on heat

The problem: Making the house too darn cozy. Heating your home in winter is a major energy drain.

The solution: Lower the thermostat and put on a sweater. If you have a crowd of guests, they might actually thank you. Additionally, you can turn down the heat when you’re out running your holiday errands, which helps green your home better than holding a constant temperature all day. Also, try to limit your fireplace use and have your chimney inspected for efficiency by a certified chimney sweep.

In case you’re still skeptical, remember: A fire on a winter’s day … how clichéd, right? RIGHT? (Honestly, I got nothing. A glowing holiday fire is delightful and we both know it. But go easy, ok?)

Hopefully, with this eco-friendly advice, you’ll be on your way to a green holiday in no time. If you’re looking for additional ways to improve your holidays, be sure to winterize your car and home. And whatever you do, don’t let your Christmas tree fall off the car en route! That’s no fun for anyone.

Have your own green home tips for the winter holiday season? Share them below.

Related links

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7 Tips for Pet-Proofing Your Pad

There are tons of great things about sharing your home with a 4-legged friend. But whether you’re a sucker for your cat’s sandpaper kisses or never go anywhere without your canine pal, pet-proofing your place is a must. Thankfully, pet-friendly homes aren’t hard to achieve or maintain, especially with these 7 handy tips.

1. Keep things out of reach

If you’ve got nimble cats or bull-in-a-china-shop dogs, it’s a good idea to put latches on your cabinets — in the kitchen, bathroom, and anywhere household cleaners, medications, or potentially poisonous food items (like chocolate and grapes) might be stored. Latches will prevent your pets from getting their paws on things that could be bad for their health. Earthquake putty can also be used to prevent your cats and dogs from knocking things over.

2. Explore your space

Small dogs or cats have a way of finding your home’s hidden nooks and crannies, along with the assorted dangers — sharp objects, forgotten candy wrappers — that might be lurking there.

Protecting your pets from harm means a lot of things — even periodically getting down on all fours and checking under the fridge for rogue grains of ancient rice (a choking hazard). You are your pet’s best defense against harm, so if your Siamese kitty can force her way into a tight space where she could potentially get stuck or hurt, you need to find it and make it inaccessible. While you’re there, clean out the dust, dander, and other detritus that can pose health problems for animals and people alike.

3. Don’t share your dirty laundry

I mean your actual laundry, not your secrets. It’s important to keep soiled clothing away from prying paws — believe it or not, those crumpled piles can pose a serious choking risk to smaller cats and dogs. You wouldn’t want your dog swallowing a sock left lying around, either. It can be harmful and costly, particularly if your pup needs veterinary help, you know, passing it along.

Laundry baskets can also be a tempting place for pets to pee, so store hampers behind closet doors and place laundry baskets on hard-to-reach shelves or in large cabinets.

4. Hide-and-seek (mostly seek)

It may seem obvious, but kittens and cats love to hide around the house. And while those cat-in-drawer moments make for great photo ops, they can also be dangerous. Closed drawers, like other confined spaces throughout the house, can lead to trouble if your kitty gets trapped.

When you’re rummaging through the drawers in your dresser or closet, remember to look for your feline friend (likely taking a nap on your favorite sweater) so you don’t accidently strand them in the dark. Likewise, there’s nothing worse than unknowingly locking your pet in a dryer. (Don’t ask.)

5. Keep a lid on it

I wouldn’t necessarily leave the seat up so the dog can drink from the toilet, but to each their own. There are problems with this scenario, however. Aside from the inherent cringe factor (your beloved boxer puppy lapping up dirty toilet water or toxic cleaners), it’s also possible for smaller pets to fall in or even drown.

To ensure your pets stay unsoiled and dry, it’s simple: just keep your toilet seat covered. Trust me, your dog won’t mind living the high life by drinking from their very own water bowl.

6. Teach bathroom behavior

If your dog or cat’s favorite place to pee is on the carpet, in your expensive shoes, or on your new sofa, it’s a good idea to say a sharp “No!” when you catch them in the act, rather than shame them after the fact. Your well-meaning pet doesn’t associate the mess with the act like humans do. To them, peeing and the location of the pee are unrelated. Punishing them will only cause confusion.

It’s smart (and kind) to take the time to train your pets to go outside, on a handy wee-wee pad, or in an indoor litter box. Imagine if no one had taken the time to teach you when and where to relieve yourself — that’s how your pets function too.

7. Check for spills

Spills on your driveway or garage floor may be no big deal to you, but they could be lethal to your pets. Automotive antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which causes quick, permanent kidney damage to animals if they ingest even a little bit (less than a quarter of an ounce can kill an average-sized cat, about 2 ounces for a 30-pound dog).

It doesn’t take much — just your Akita pup or Persian kitten trotting through the garage, inadvertently sopping up the spill with a paw, and licking themselves to get clean. I’d suggest checking for spills regularly and cleaning your surfaces as if your life depended on it too.

What works for you?

Whether you rent or own, there are lots of things you can do to safeguard your stuff and your pets. And it’s wise to protect yourself as well with a good homeowners or renters policy  it’ll help cover you in case Fido or Fluffy takes a nip at the neighbor.

What do you do to keep your cats and dogs out of trouble and safe from harm? Let us know in the comment section below. Your fellow animal lovers will thank you.

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Motorcycle Theft: Is Your Bike a Target?

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recently came out with their latest stats on motorcycle theft (in 2012) and recovery (from 2012-June 2013).

The good news: countrywide, theft in 2012 was down slightly — one percent — from 2011.

The bad news: only 39 percent of stolen bikes were actually recovered. (One of those recoveries was a 1953 Triumph that had been missing for over 46 years!) Recoveries tend to be low because stolen bikes are often dismantled and sold for their parts, which can earn big bucks on the black market — and those aftermarket custom parts and accessories make thefts even more lucrative. The bikes that aren’t scrapped are often sold intact after their identification’s been altered. In either case, there’s a good chance a stolen bike won’t be found.

Here’s what else was in the report.

The most stolen makes in 2012

Thieves are most tempted by powerful bikes with street-racing capabilities. In 2012, Hondas were once again the most stolen motorcycles, accounting for 20 percent of all thefts. Here’s the full list of the top 5:

  1. Honda
  2. Yamaha
  3. Suzuki
  4. Kawasaki
  5. Harley-Davidson

When both make and year were factored in, 2007 Suzukis were stolen most frequently, followed by 2006 Suzukis. Ultimately, all of the top 10 stolen makes and years on the list were Suzukis, Hondas, and Yamahas built between 2005 and 2009.

Warm weather equals hot bikes

In many parts of the country, motorcycle riding is seasonal, so it makes sense that more bikes are stolen in months when they’re out on the streets rather than tucked away in garages.

Last year, over 50 percent of stolen bikes were lifted between May and September.

Keep an eye out, California

For the third straight year, California topped the charts as the state with the most motorcycle thefts. Next on the list were Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Indiana. These results aren’t especially surprising since California, Florida, and Texas have the highest registered number of motorcycles, as well as year-round riding seasons.

Of the top 5 cities for theft, only one (San Diego, which came in at number three) is in California. The others were New York, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, and Miami.

Ways to prevent motorcycle theft

Motorbikes are comparatively more stealable than cars because they generally lack anti-theft technology. The remote-starting devices on some models can make things even easier for thieves. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help keep criminals from targeting your ride.

  • Lock your ignition (most thefts happen when the ignition is off but unlocked).
  • Install a hidden “kill” switch that disables the engine.
  • Use a thick chain to lock your bike to an immovable object. If your bike is in a garage, hide it behind a car or large pillar.
  • Lock the forks and disc brakes.
  • Make sure your lock is wrapped tightly (less room for thieves to work) and isn’t lying on the ground where thieves can hammer at it.
  • Install a motorcycle alarm.
  • Put an inconspicuous cover over your bike that doesn’t advertise the make (thieves usually won’t want to attract attention by lifting the cover).

And always make sure you’re protected with a good motorcycle insurance policy.

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