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Memorial Day driving safety tips – 2011

Michigan injury attorney shares safe driving tips and insurance advice to prevent car accidents

With Memorial Day around the corner, many of my clients, and especially my readers who have found me on my auto lawyer blog, ask for driving safety tips to help make their road trips go smoothly – and hopefully car accident-free. I’m probably the only lawyer who says to people, “I hope you never need my help,” because that unfortunately means something bad has happened already.

According to AAA Michigan, more than 1.1 million Michiganians will travel during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. And during last Memorial Day weekend, the Michigan State Police report 15 people died in 14 fatal crashes, up from 11 in 2009.

Below are some tried and true safety tip favorites from our injury attorneys:

Safe driving tips

Buckle up
Memorial Day is a dangerous time to travel, because there are more people on the roads, and the number of drunks and drunk drivers is higher as well. That’s part of the reason the Michigan State Police kick off their annual seat belt and drunk driving campaigns around this time of year. So, safety first. Don’t start your car until you and the kids are buckled into a car seat or booster seat – even for short trips.

Don’t drive distracted – and no texting while driving
Drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to get into a car accident. No cell phones or texting. If you really must send that text message, pull over first. And believe it or not, having seen now more than one serious auto accident case due to people using the internet and ipad while driving (yes, while driving) let’s wait until we’re home for that. Be careful with eating since it can cause drowsiness while driving.

Road construction detours
Planning your driving route this Memorial Day weekend should involve more than glancing at a map. Road construction is getting under way, and detours will be implemented throughout the country. Go online to check your state’s Department of Transportation site, where you can find the most up-to-date detour information. With your detours in mind, you can use a mapping site like Google Maps that allows you to adjust your route. Here’s the Michigan Department of Transportation website.

Slow down
Slow down and be extra aware in construction areas, around maintenance crews and whenever you come upon an emergency vehicle or any other vehicle on the side of the road. A little more caution can save many lives.

Look out for potholes
Driving through just one big pothole can blow or weaken a tire, bend a wheel and knock a vehicle out of alignment. Slow down as much as traffic will allow if avoiding a pothole isn’t possible. Drive around puddles, as they can be hiding rain-filled potholes.

Gas prices
There is no magic trick to avoid paying the price of gas. But you can prepare by searching out the best gas prices available. If you use a Smartphone, try apps that can point you toward the lowest prices. If you’re not Smartphone equipped, check gas price on websites like before you leave for your vacation, to get an idea of where the values are.

Make sure you’re properly insured for your road trip

Check your auto insurance
Did you know more than 50 percent of the drivers in Detroit and Flint do not have auto insurance? With so many uninsured drivers, now is a great time to make sure you have uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage on your policy. This is extra insurance you can purchase to make sure you’re protected in case of a car accident with an uninsured driver, or a driver who does not have enough auto insurance.

Buy the additional rental car insurance
There are more than a hundred auto insurance companies writing Michigan No-Fault policies, so it’s best to call your auto insurance agent before a trip, to see how your No-Fault coverage applies in case of an auto accident. But it comes to renting a car – especially when we’re talking about out-of-state rental cars – insurance attorneys will almost always recommend purchasing the additional rental car coverage.

Keep your roadside assistance numbers handy
Does your auto insurance policy include rental reimbursement and roadside assistance coverage? If your car breaks down and you need to have it towed or rent another one, who will pay for it? Have your roadside assistance phone number handy, as well as your claim number.

Keep in mind, AAA Michigan is partnering with the Michigan State Police (MSP) in supporting Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort). Bright yellow banners will be posted at rest areas statewide, with many sites offering complimentary coffee and refreshments. In addition, Operation C.A.R.E. volunteers will provide traffic safety information throughout the summer holiday weekends.

Our injury attorneys wish you a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend. Please keep the above tips in mind to protect yourself, your family and other Michigan drivers this holiday.

Steven Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top injury attorneys handling serious car and truck accident lawsuits and No-Fault litigation. He routinely writes about safe driving and the auto laws in Michigan, and is available for comment.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Bruce Berrien

Related information:

10 foods to avoid while driving

3 tips to protect yourself when renting a car

Michigan auto accident checklist – Before a car accident

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our injury attorneys.

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