Thursday, April 30, 2009

Starting School Day Later Lowers Auto Accidents

Letting teens sleep a little more by starting the school day a bit later may lower their odds for car crash injury or death, a new study finds. The researchers found a 16.5% drop in auto accident rates for teen drivers when high schools moved the start of classes from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

The possible reason? More sleep, more alert driving, the researchers said.

After puberty, adolescents are biologically programmed to stay up about an hour later each night. People blame teenagers' sleep deprivation on computers and staying up late to e-mail friends. Probably true, but there is evidence teens get phase-shifted by at least an hour. So you've got biology pushing you later and then you've got the school systems starting an hour earlier. By the end of the week, [kids] are a wreck and our study shows they might actually be in one."

In the study, researchers surveyed around 10,000 students from grades 6 through 12 on their sleep habits and daytime functioning, including auto mishaps. The surveys were completed twice -- first in 1998, when school started at 7:30 a.m., and then again in 1999, when the start time had been moved to 8:30 a.m.

Besides the 16.5% drop in car crashes, the researchers also found that the number of students who got at least eight hours of sleep per night rose from 35.7% in 1998 to 50% after the later school time came into effect.

Kids need at least eight hours and probably closer to nine hours of sleep, Danner said. And as little as an hour less sleep on school nights can have a cumulative effect. That means that by the end of the week, teens are as impaired as if they had stayed up for 24 hours straight.

Discuss this with your kids and alert them to their need to get plenty of sleep.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We're on Twitter!

Check us out on the hottest new social network, Twitter! You can find us at

Find out INSTANTLY when we've posted a blog, if you're the winner of our referral program ($50 dinners or the 32" HDTV!), or for exclusive contests!

Distractions and the Common Teen Driver

It's not just alcohol and the drugs that increase the fatality risks for teen drivers, in fact probably a far more common risk is driving distractions.

Distractions for anyone, even experienced drivers, can be an extremely dangerous thing. But then you add inexperience to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

Let's look at some of the most deadly and prevalent distractions facing teen drivers today. First, according to a 2008 statistic 87% of the 6,000 teen drivers that die every year is because of driving with distractions. That pretty much says it all!

What Are The Distractions?
Well a major one is texting and cell phone usage. There are new laws in the State of Washington that ban usage of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle but that alone won't always deter teens from trying to read that ever so important text message.

Another distraction is eating and drinking, trying to pass around a box of cookies or getting a sip of a soda can be as dangerous a distraction as texting.

And other concerns for teen drivers is usage of the radio or CD player in the car, putting on makeup, or flirting with that cute guy or gal walking on the sidewalk. We once heard of a car full of “cute guys” getting the attention of a girl in the vehicle traveling next to them on a major interstate. The distraction was enough to cause an accident but believe it or not, they drove closer and closer to pass a cell phone to the female driver so she could type in her number. Then, they inched closer again (traveling at 60 miles per hour, mind you) so she could pass the phone back. Surprisingly, no one got hurt and no accidents were caused. But it’s just this type of reckless decision making that make teens such dangerous drivers!

Parents are dealing with protecting their young teen drivers by many methods but primarily we are suggesting that parents contact their insurance company for pointers on how to guide their children into becoming safe and responsible drivers. Many companies offer or can refer you to a company that offers GPS tracking devices (we offer Teensurance through Safeco—learn more at The GPS works by alerting the parent by e-mail, voice delivery, or text to let them know if the teen driver has broken any of the set “agreements” of the parent/teen contract. The agreements include curfew, areas they’re not allowed to drive in, and speed. The GPS is installed in the dash, professionally, and then is updated in real time on a website where parents can log in with a designated username and password.

There are other options beside the GPS but we strongly suggest that you are proactive with your teen driver. Inquire about pertinent literature, take advantage of any safety courses with driving instructors or your insurance company, and most of all, stay in touch and in constant dialog with your teen drivers for safety's sake. It could mean their life.

More questions regarding Teensurance through Safeco? You can e-mail us at We also give discounts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Exciting Update!

A quick update-- We're in the works of getting video postings on the blogs. The Flip and Flip Mino has taken the country by storm and we're hoppin on the Flip train!

What do you want to see? What do you want to know? Insurance related or not, we'd like to be a wealth of information to you on home, auto, catastrophe information and more.

Did you know we have another blog? SAV-ON Blog. Check it out!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Finding a Good Driving Instructor

If you're lucky enough to be in the North Seattle metro area, we hands down recommend A-Team Driving School. The owner/instructor, Bill, is excellent. Brittany is also an instructor and is great too. If you're not in that area though-- here are some important questions to ask when you're looking.

  • How long have you been a driving instructor?
  • Do you have male or female instructors?
  • Are all your instructors fully qualified?
  • Can I have the same instructor for all my lessons?
  • What type of cars do you use?
  • Are the cars dual controlled?
  • How old are the cars?
  • Do I have the same car for every lesson?
  • Do you work weekends?
  • How much are your lessons? (Cheap doesn't always equal best.)
  • Do you have discounts?
  • What's your pass rate?
  • How long is each lesson?
  • Any fees for lesson cancellation?

Some other good questions to ask if a friend/family member is referring you:
  • Are they reliable?
  • Are they friendly and patient?
  • Does the instructor smoke?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cell Phone Enabled GPS Tracking Device Created by Teen

At just 20 years old, Jonathan Fischer has created a Cell Phone GPS Teen Tracking Device which measures speed, curfew, and off-limit areas.

It works by having a black box installed in the vehicle. Anytime you speed or break other agreements it sends an annoying alert through the teen's cell phone.

Fischer began working on the device at 16 year of age after a local teen driver was killed behind the wheel due to speeding. He's won awards and even a hefty prize of $20,000 for his business plan.

The device is a pricey $250 to start and then $15 per month after. But a distinctive feature is in the GPS. Mapping lets the box know what the speed limit is on any given road, so if for example, you're going 10 miles over anywhere it will send the alert.

To learn more:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Psychology of Teen Driving

Driving excitement.
If you tell your teenage children they can't have teenage passengers, music, night driving, etc., you'll likely hear something like this: "What's the point of even having a license if I can't drive with my friends and listen to music? What's the point if I can't have fun?"

We've all been brainwashed by a lifetime of ads and movies to think that driving should be exhilarating, exciting, and fun-- an emotional experience. Well, it shouldn't be. If it is, you're doing it wrong. (When was the last time you felt exhilarated during your morning commute?) Emotion is what sells cars. But we're really not supposed to drive emotionally. this point gets lost on people, especially teenagers.

Driving should be no more emotional than a bus ride. Getting from point A to B is the objective. Driving is a means of transportation, not entertainment. Discuss this with your children, and at least get them thinking about it. Their emotional level while driving is a good measurement of their driving maturity.

Your kids can monitor this themselves. If they feel they're getting "pumped up" by being behind the wheel, that should be a warning flag to you and to them. Can you eliminate or reduce whatever is creating the emotion-- the music, the friend in the front seat, the type of car?

Overconfidence after 6-12 months of driving.
Among PEMCO policyholders, 16-year-olds have a higher accident rate than adults, but not that much higher. However, at age 17, 18, and 19, we see the rate jump to three times the adult rate. One reason is that teenagers get overconfident. They've driven from home to school to home repeatedly, and they begin to think they've mastered driving.

They haven't. They've only mastered their "regular" trips, where they know every curve, intersection and lane change. That doesn't mean they're good at judging new situations for the first time, especially if it's under difficult conditions (other teens in the car, dark outside, bad weather, etc.). They're still "intermediate" drivers playing in an "advanced" tournament, and they have a long way to go before they can perform at that level.

Overconfidence when driving a different car.
Any car that isn't your child's regular car is potentially a hazard. Your friend's car. Another car in the family. A Sport Utility Vehicle or another vehicle that is bigger, heavier, and takes longer to turn or stop. Sensitize your teenagers to this. They will need to focus harder. The car will handle differently. The dashboard will be different. The light switch and wiper controls might be unfamiliar. There will be a number of distractions they aren't used to.