The 7 Most Dangerous Roads in the U.S.

Summer is just around the corner, and with that comes road trip season. And though the vast highways of the United States may not conjure conditions as extreme as Russia’s Road of Bones or as scary as Bolivia’s La Carretera de los Yungas, there are still plenty that’ll make you feel glad you’ve got car insurance.

Here are 7 of the most treacherous roads in the U.S.

1. Highway 550 in Colorado

When you’re 11,000 feet above sea level in the San Juan Mountains, the one thing you want on a winding road is a guardrail. Unfortunately, many stretches along Highway 550 in southwestern Colorado have no such safety precautions. This is deliberate to help remove snow during the winter months and (wait for it) avalanche debris!

So you’re 11,000 feet up, it’s icy, there’s no guardrail, and you may have to speed away from an avalanche? To make matters worse, much of the route has no shoulder. So if you leave your lane for a moment, you could leave the mountain altogether.

2. Haul Road in Alaska

Officially known as the James Dalton Highway, Alaska’s “Haul Road” was opened in 1974 to transport oil and gas north from Fairbanks to the far reaches of the state. Temperatures along this isolated 2-lane road have been known to dip as low as -80°F through the Brooks Mountain Range. If you’re feeling adventurous (or in need of extreme isolation), this would be a drive of a lifetime. But despite the fact that you’d be following the Trans-Alaska pipeline for hundreds of miles, actual fuel services are pretty limited. On top of that, cell service is nonexistent. Helicopters do patrol the road twice a day looking for breakdowns and stranded drivers, but make sure you’re well equipped, just in case.

3. I-90 in Montana

With its remote stretches and countless road hazards, I-90 is sadly one reason why Montana has the highest highway fatality rate in the U.S. The reasons for this range from lengthy ambulance wait-times to people driving for long periods without resting. Local police have also cited alcohol as a big cause of accidents on I-90, along with distracted driving and a lack of seatbelts.

Cutting through the center of the state, I-90 may have its dangers, but it’s undoubtedly a beautiful way to get across the country. If you plan on taking this scenic highway, be sure to load up on supplies, keep it slow, and pack a medical kit before you go.

4. I-15 near Las Vegas

With approximately 8 million drivers speeding between southern Nevada and southern California each year, a certain 180-mile stretch of I-15 has become notoriously hazardous. Whether people are racing to party in Vegas or returning distracted after losing the mortgage payment, this sunny strip of desert road can be deadly, so if you’re heading to Vegas this year, be sure to take it easy and stop for breaks along the way.

5. I-10 in Arizona

The next road you’ll want to keep both hands on the wheel for is a (relatively) small part of I-10 running between Phoenix and the border with California. Despite stretching from sea to shining sea, I-10 has become particularly dangerous along this 150-mile section, and an accident on this dark, straight, and sparsely populated area can leave people stranded for a while. On average, up to 85 drivers per year lose their lives on this cruel desert road, so make sure you stock up on supplies and keep your phone charged.

6. Highway 6 in Utah

The 120-miles of Highway 6 between Spanish Fork and Green River in Utah are a key route between Salt Lake City and Denver, and the highway sees truckers, tourists, and commuters all competing for lane space while rushing between the 2 cities. Some tight twists and turns along with narrow icy lanes (not to mention the elk and deer that occasionally hop into traffic) make this road a little more dangerous than it seems. Recent improvements have helped to widen some of the lanes, but there are sections where a tight 18-inch double yellow line is the only thing separating double-wide farm vehicles from tiny hatchbacks. And often, the most notorious crashes come from drivers passing slow-moving vehicles when it’s not safe to do so.

7. U.S. Route 1 in Maine

Though it’s perhaps not the most commonly traveled road on this list, U.S. Route 1 in Maine has developed a dodgy reputation. Despite suffering from the usual elements of a dangerous road —poor road signs, sudden curves, and particularly harsh weather conditions — this popular rural route also has to deal with large moseying moose.

In fact, moose have become a bona fide road hazard in the state. And if you think moose can’t cause mayhem, consider this: Approximately 443 moose cause collisions in Maine each year (and that’s a number that’s fallen in recent years)Unlike rabbits and deer, moose are less startled by cars and remain unpredictable in heavy traffic. And with their immense size, hitting one can be devastating.

Plan ahead

No matter where you roam this summer, make sure you and your car are prepared. See how Esurance can quickly personalize your car insurance before you go.

Drive safely.

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Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, and … Baking Soda? Test Your BBQ Safety Knowledge

Summer is here! And since hot dogs and hamburgers are practically required summer foods, grilling can be some serious summertime business. But with 86 percent of homeowners owning at least one outdoor grill or smoker, and an average of 8,800 home fires started by grills each year, it’s important to know how to grill safely. Brush up with our quiz so you can be all set for your next BBQ.

Stay safe in other ways

Whether you’re grilling in your own backyard paradise or taking a vacation to a far-off land, make sure your home is protected this summer. Get a free homeowners insurance quote today.

Happy grilling!

 

5 Tips to Increase Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency

Over the last decade, gas prices have been, ahem, volatile to say the least and lend further credence to Newtonian physics: What goes up must come down (but back up again? Seriously?).

If you’re concerned about the erratic highs and lows of gas prices or want to minimize your carbon footprint, check out these 5 ways you can optimize your car’s fuel efficiency and safeguard your wallet.

1. Keep your tires properly inflated

As you may already know, the condition of your tires can significantly impact your fuel economy. For instance, tires that are underinflated by 8 pounds (a relatively common condition) may increase rolling resistance by about 5 percent, thus working your gas overtime.

Not only do deflated tires shirk you of fuel efficiency, but drivers with tires that are more than 25 percent underinflated are prone to overheating and 3 times more likely to be involved in a tire-related auto accident. By checking your tires at least once a month, you may be able to improve your fuel economy by 3.3 percent (and improve your driving safety too).

If your tires are on their last legs, though, consider replacing them with eco-friendly tires. With substantial advancements in tire technology, gone are the days of sacrificing fuel efficiency for cornering and braking ability. Now you can enjoy the fruits of driving performance and reduced strain on the environment.

2. Try the hypermiling method

What is hypermiling? Fair question. Hypermiling is the practice of making skillful changes to driving habits in the service of fuel economy. It may include letting up on the accelerator, babying the brakes, employing cruise control, and slowing down a little. Bear in mind that there is an optimal, fuel-efficient speed range — usually within 45 to 60 mph, depending on your vehicle. And for every 5 miles you drive above 60 mph, your fuel efficiency may drop by 10 percent. After all, it’s easy to drive 10 mph above the speed limit without realizing it, especially if you drive a heavy and powerful SUV.

And remember, aggressive driving is not only a detriment to mental health, but it can also increase your gas mileage on the highway by nearly 33 percent! Engaging your brakes and accelerating rapidly uses up excess gas, incurs needless wear and tear, and significantly increases your risk of causing an accident. So get some hypermiling in your life. Relax. Be mindful. And try to leave a little earlier for those important appointments.

3. Avoid topping off your gas tank

You’ve probably learned to keep the hose in the tank once the pump shuts off, allowing the rest of the fuel to pour out of the nozzle. After all, that extra quarter cup of gas is yours — you paid for it. But the impulse to squeeze the pump for more fuel is actually not good for your vehicle, wallet, or the environment.

Gas pumps were designed to shut off for a reason. Adding too much gas could flood your vapor collection system and damage the engine. Once your vapor collection system is flooded, more carbon emissions might escape into the atmosphere. Your car, wallet, the environment — no one wins. Gas needs space to expand, so restrain the urge to squeeze the pump once it shuts off.

4. Try out synthetic oil for size

Synthetic oil is remarkable. It flows better in low temperatures, safeguards engines efficiently in high temperatures, and offers improved engine wear protection. What’s more, if you have an older engine that’s prone to sludge buildup, synthetic oil can help mitigate the problem. Even though it’s more expensive than regular oil, synthetic motor oil can prolong the lifespan of your engine components, which could give you improved performance and reliability.

5. Get an engine checkup

With the advent of computer-controlled fuel injection, getting a traditional engine tune-up may be a thing of the past. But it’s still important that you bring your car into the shop for a regular checkup. Fixing a car that’s failed an emissions test, for instance, can improve fuel economy by as much as 4 percent. In fact, repairing a serious maintenance issue like a faulty oxygen sensor can increase gas mileage by as much as 40 percent! So, when that check engine light beckons, don’t give it the cold shoulder. You’d be doing yourself, your car, and the environment a gross disservice.

As the responsible car owner you undoubtedly are (after all, you’re reading this), make sure you have reliable car insurance to ensure you, your car, and your wallet are protected on all fronts.

Related links

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10 U.S. Cities with the Best Public Transportation

When it comes to public transportation, convenience results in higher ridership, and higher ridership can help spur population growth. What’s more, research suggests that living in close proximity to public transit systems has some unique perks and benefits.

For example, according to The National Association of Realtors, the average value of a home was 42 percent higher when located near public transit. A study in Boston also found that homes near public transportation outpriced other neighborhoods by 129 percent.

So, not only can you enjoy the fruits of a home with greater market value, but your general happiness may also stay intact by not having to confront the crush of traffic.  Check out the top 10 cities reaping the benefits of an optimal public transit system based the average commute time, how easy it is to get to jobs and around the city, its benefits over driving a car, and overall aesthetic and historical value.

10. Seattle, WA

Like its many metropolitan counterparts, Seattle’s public transit system encompasses rail and bus transportation. But the city also provides a unique monorail system that serves a fast and fun trip between the city center and downtown, making more jobs accessible in the greater area.

Earlier this year, Seattle began operating a new streetcar line and recently completed an underground light rail months ahead of schedule. It’s no wonder that ridership among Seattleites is up about 35 percent since 2011 and about 4 percent among commuters —the biggest increase of any major city in the country.

9. Denver, CO

For the last few years, the Mile High City’s light and commuter rail lines have been expanding rapidly with city funding in the multi-billion dollar range. As part of their growing FasTracks program, Denver will have 4 main lines that convey commuters virtually anywhere in the city later this year.

In fact, the expansion program is currently the largest in the country and will likely transcend transportation in the Denver metro area for many years to come.

8. Los Angeles, CA

The City of Angels is notorious for horrific traffic jams and teeth-gritting commutes. They also get a bad rap for public transit.

So it may come as a shock that over one million Angelenos opt for the Metrolink rail systems and city bus during the workweek. In fact, in 2014, ridership reached roughly 115 million.

To accommodate the greater metro area, the system utilizes a rail network with over 79 miles of track to get commuters to 112,000 jobs in a 40-minute interval. Also, L.A. plans to funnel billions of dollars into the expansion of their light rail system. Oh, the things to come.

7. Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) operates a multitude of services that extend to trolleys, light rail system, 2 subway lines, and buses. Commuters and tourists alike have access to all of the City of Brotherly Love’s popular destinations — from the Philadelphia Sports & Entertainment Complex to the Independence Mall Area. You can also get to the airport from the city’s center in under 25 minutes.

For those who live in the surrounding suburbs (or tourists looking to get out of the city center), Philly’s charming, old school trolley system connects most of North and West Philadelphia, availing riders to beautiful countrysides, specialty shops, and public gardens.

6. San Jose, CA

With the growing tech boom in adjacent areas like Silicon Valley, and residents willing to take on hour-long commutes, San Jose’s public transit makes almost 200,000 jobs accessible.

Additionally, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has been given the go-ahead to extend the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) further south, adding 4 stations and downtown San Jose’s 5-mile tunnel. This will likely spur San Jose’s ever-increasing ridership (and maybe even some smiling faces from those who aren’t entrenched in gridlock traffic).

5. Washington, D.C.

With expensive parking and traffic congestion, the residents of the nation’s capital are lucky to have reliable public transportation. Residents and visitors can easily get to museums, shopping areas, entertainment venues, sporting events — and over one million jobs are accessible for commuters.

The Washington Metro is comprised of 6 lines (all color-coded), making it fast and easy to venture anywhere in the city, as well as suburbs in Maryland and Virginia.

Furthermore, a D.C. law that was enacted at the beginning of this year requires employers to provide workers with commuter benefits and will likely incentivize the use of public transit. What this could mean for D.C. is reduced congestion, less road wear, and a smaller carbon footprint.

4. Boston, MA

Boston is the birthplace of the United States, and not surprisingly, home to the oldest subway tunnel in the country. The Massachusetts Bay Transit (or the “T”), offers subway, trolley, bus, and boat service, taking riders to just about anywhere in the greater Boston area (and beyond!). All in all, the T handles about 390 million riders a year.

In addition to its above par public transit, Boston is known for being one of the most walkable cities in the U.S.

3. Chicago, IL

Job accessibility in Chi-town closely correlates with the configuration of its public transit network. In other words, the metro region’s rail system strategically links people to their homes and place of work.  And Chicago’s “L” trains make up the third-largest system in the country, accommodating nearly 800,000 riders every weekday.

Moreover, the average commuter spends roughly $100 a month, which is lower than other notable cities on the list, like D.C. and New York.

2. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco is known for its most recognizable historical transit icons: the cable car. While only 3 of the 23 original cable car lines traverse the city’s characteristically steep hills (and are mainly used by tourists), they still symbolize the integral role public transit has in the evolution of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.

The BART system brings commuters to cities all over the Bay Area, including Oakland, Berkeley, and even the aforementioned Silicon Valley. In addition, Muni is a network of buses and light rails with a ridership averaging over 220 million a year.

1. New York City

NYC tops the list with the total number of passenger trips and federal funding on public transit. If you factor in buses, the total ridership exceeds 2.5 billion.

The public transit in New York conveys passengers to jobs more efficiently than any metro region in the U.S. — and it’s largely due to population density, as well as an advanced system of trains, subways, buses, and ferries.

And you can’t forget one of the most famous historical landmarks in the world:  Grand Central Station. While long-distance travel has been the cornerstone of Grand Central since opening its doors in 1913, it’s transformed into a regional commuter hub, retaining its boldly elegant architecture and an aura of monumental achievement.

Here’s another fun fact about the city that never sleeps: NYC makes up about a quarter of all transit ridership in the country.

Of course, it goes without saying that Esurance is also all about convenience and reliability. Learn how you can save time (and money) with our reliable Express Lane®.

Related links

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Upcycle Your Way to Organizational Bliss: 4 Helpful Tips

Good news for the chronically disorganized: you don’t have to hire a consultant and read a zillion how-to books to get your spaces in order. In fact, you just might be amazed at what can be reused, repurposed, and utilized in unexpected ways.

But how can you organize without your space looking like you just ransacked the nearest office supply store? Chances are you can use some household odds and ends to jump-start your organization project, so here are 4 ways to upcycle your way to organizational bliss.

1. Jars, tins, and cans

Mason jars have become all the rage in homes and with good reason. Not only do they offer a little bit of rustic-chic charm to whatever spaces they inhabit, but they’re also an organizer’s dream. In the kitchen, they’re ideal for storing spices, baking ingredients, and dried foods like beans or pasta. In the bathroom, they’re great for cotton swabs and other toiletries. And if your crafting area’s a mess, your scissors, pipe cleaners, and glitter can have a fancy new home. You can even upcycle your empty jars of pasta sauce (same for your tea tins or coffee cans).

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2. Old belts and scrap wood

A wood plank from that “some assembly required” bookshelf, those old leather belts that aren’t going anywhere … what do these things have in common? With a few tricks, they can be upcycled into a charmingly unconventional shelf that’s perfect for storing those loose odds and ends. To get started, mark your bookshelf board 2 inches in from each side. Then, fasten the belts (you might need to puncture new holes to make them the same size). Hammer your belts into the bottom of the plank with 3 nails each, and then add one each to the front of the plank. Finally, hammer the belt into the wall (make sure it’s even — you might want to grab a friend and a level or use one of those nifty level apps on your smartphone). It’s a pretty fun and eclectic way to get organized.

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3. Filing cabinets and an old door

Maybe your current desk just isn’t working out for you, or your workspace hasn’t come together yet. The good news: there’s a relatively cheap and easy way to create a fully functional, organized work area. It’s pretty simple: 2 filing cabinets are used to prop up a large wooden board or an old door, and voilà! Instant desk.

Filing cabinets can be found at any office supply store or even a garage sale. As for the desktop? You can often find an old door, often for free, on local buy-sell-trade websites. And if the door is heavy enough, you won’t need to attach it to the cabinets. Otherwise, some industrial adhesive or a few screws drilled in from the underside of the top cabinets will do.

White desk made of two filing cabinets and one door

4. A few shoeboxes

All praise the shoebox! It’s been a de facto organizational savior for eons, and it’s just about to get its due. If you’ve got junk — and we all do — then these can come in quite handy. Since the cardboard is usually sturdy and the tops are often removable, they make pretty convenient helpers for your closet space. But they’re not always the most attractive things to look at.

Here’s where a little bit of DIY prowess comes in. With some gift wrap and double-sided tape, you can turn your old shoe box into a gorgeous storage space for those holiday decorations or thank-you cards. Add some stick-on labels and you’ll be a DIY hero around the house.

Two light brown shoeboxes with pink polka dots stacked on a bookshelf

A little bit of organization is one of the smartest things you can do to keep the inside of your home in tip-top shape — you can even make it a little bit smarter with a few tricks. And as for the outside? Make sure that’s protected with Esurance homewners coverage. Get a quote today.