(BPT) - If you were to take a quiz to test your ability to identify common emojis and road signs, how do you think you’d fare?
According to the results from a recent survey by Mercury Insurance, 1,890 respondents did not do so well. The meaning of the “yawning” emoji was correctly identified by 85% of the respondents, but only 31% of quiz-takers correctly identified the meaning of the “lane reduction” road sign. Additionally, 71% knew the “in love” emoji, but the “keep right” road sign was correctly identified by only 51% of quiz-takers.
Emojis are continually being added to our texting and messaging vocabulary, and for the most part, we’re able to keep up with this ever-changing landscape. Fortunately for the more than 200 million licensed U.S. drivers, road signs are highly regulated and consistent, and are designed to help keep drivers safe and easily guide them to their destinations. The bad news, however, is that far more people are able to identify emojis than road signs. And what’s worse is that many times they’re looking at these cute little icons while they’re driving.
“Sure, emojis are a fun, modern-day form of shorthand, and may be more intuitive, but there’s a time and place to use them, and behind the wheel of a car isn’t one of them,” said Kevin Quinn, vice president of claims and customer experience at Mercury Insurance. “A picture may be worth a thousand words in some cases, but it certainly isn’t worth getting into a collision and risking someone’s life. Most collisions are avoidable if drivers focus on their main task of safely operating a vehicle.”
Distracted driving — anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road, including texting and talking on a phone — accounted for 3,166 fatalities in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous, as it takes your eyes off the road for five seconds on average — whether you’re reading or sending the message.
The results of the quiz also highlight the importance of knowing what each road sign means, so you and those around you are safe. “These signs are instantly communicating to drivers what actions to take, much like emojis instantly communicate what friends or family members might be trying to convey in a text,” said Quinn. “It’s OK to only somewhat understand an emoji, but it’s imperative to know exactly what a road sign is telling you; otherwise it could lead to disastrous results on the road where no one can afford a misunderstanding. And being an attentive driver who knows the rules of the road and safely gets where they’re going might earn you a smiley face from your auto insurance company, just don’t read it while you’re operating a vehicle.”
(BPT) - As you drive down the street, the threat of potential distractions is everywhere. Federal research shows that distracted driving is a factor in one out of every six crashes, and accounts for 5,000 automobile crash-related fatalities each year.
While teens are commonly associated with distracted-driving issues — particularly texting — the issue affects drivers of all ages. To help reduce distracted driving crash-related injuries, and loss of life, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance) offer these tips to help drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
* Gear up before you go out. Whether it’s your sunglasses, your Bluetooth(R) earpiece or your favorite hat, putting accessories on before starting your car allows you to keep your hands on the wheel, and not your wardrobe while driving.
* Stop for a bite. A quick bite for lunch should be enjoyed in a restaurant, or your non-moving vehicle, instead of on the go while you're driving. This allows you to take a break, enjoy your food and not worry about spilling beverages on yourself.
* Don’t be afraid to pull over. If another matter begs your attention — such as settling a disagreement between your children — pull the car over to handle the situation properly rather than trying to attend to it while you are driving.
* Have a plan in place. Sometimes this is easier said than done. However, if you are traveling somewhere for the first time, you should understand your route before starting the drive. Program your GPS, or share printed directions with your navigator before you depart.
* Call them back. Cell phone usage is one of the leading causes of distracted driving-related crashes and not all of them are related solely to texting. If your phone rings while you’re in the car and you do not have a hands-free headset already on, let the caller go to voicemail. You can always call them back when you arrive at your destination or your next stop.
* If you don’t need it, store it. Sporting equipment, kids' toys or groceries, your car is the transport home for many things and sometimes those items can jostle back and forth while you're driving — particularly on those sharp turns. And when things start moving, your natural reaction is to take your eyes off the road and reach for them. Instead, secure items in the trunk or in another storage compartment before the drive.
Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is one of the most important things you do every single day you choose to drive so be sure to apply the tips above and make driving your No. 1 priority. Your loved ones and those you share the road with will thank you for it. For even more helpful tips and strategies to minimize driving distractions, visit www.decidetodrive.org.
(BPT) - New to ridesharing? So are most people, both drivers and passengers alike. Ridesharing matches you with a nearby driver who will pick you up and take you where you need to go. Calling a ride is as easy as opening up a ridesharing app and tapping a button; a driver will then arrive within minutes. By using a ridesharing service, you can help your community by reducing traffic, connecting with your neighbors, and keeping your local economy strong.
One major player is Lyft, the fastest-growing on-demand transportation service in the U.S., covering 94 percent of the U.S. population. Once you have the app downloaded, all you need to do is enter a prepayment method, designate your pickup and dropoff location, and you’re set! In just a few minutes your driver will be at your location ready to go. The app allows you to track the location of your driver so you will always know exactly when to be ready, and if you can’t find your driver you can easily send them a text or give them a call.
1. Riding shotgun -- Front seat or backseat? That is entirely up to you! Looking to be social and connect with your driver a little more? The front seat is the place for you. If you prefer a little more solitude, then the backseat might be best. There isn’t a wrong answer — just go with whatever feels right. Here is an easy conversation starter: Drivers often make excellent recommendations if you’re visiting a new city. As a local, they know the hot spots best.
2. Feeling TIPsy? — After a night of socializing, you should rely on ridesharing to get you home safely. And if your driver provided stellar service, got you to your destination in record time or had a sick ride, you might want to tip them for their hard work. Tipping is always optional but always appreciated.
3. Safety first -- Is ridesharing safe? Yes! Ridesharing is a safe and reliable way to get from point A to B with a little help from someone in your community. In fact, 87 percent of Lyft drivers have given a ride to a neighbor. Good thing that companies across the industry are dedicated to safety. For instance, Lyft ensures that every driver is screened before they’re permitted to drive on their platform, starting with professional third-party background and DMV checks. In addition to the background check, Lyft has a dedicated Trust and Safety team on call 24/7.
4. Ride your way — You have another wedding next weekend and you want to arrive in style, but you also want to save a little money on the ride home. Are there options in ridesharing that cover both types of service? Yes! Across the ridesharing industry there are a wide range of options to suit a wide range of needs. If you're looking to save some money, try sharing your ride with someone else. If you have a special date or an important meeting, you can splurge for a luxury black car.
5. Best of both worlds — If you happen to have a qualifying four-door car, you are totally able to use your free time and spare seats to make some extra cash. Driving on a platform like Lyft is great because you can seamlessly switch between rider and driver. Going to that hip area of town that never has parking? Call a ridesharing service! Have a few hours to spare because your mom’s flight is delayed? Open the driver app and make the most of that time.
(BPT) - Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.
More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don't yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.
Distracted driving isn't just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.
Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.
In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill's Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.
"I had to try the policy myself first," says MacLennan. "Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company."
Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.
1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you're on the road.
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.
3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.
4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.
5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over "cellphone stops" along your route if needed.
6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren't the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.
Driving safely should be everyone's top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you've arrived, safely, at your destination.
(BPT) - The next time you find yourself pumping gas, don't be surprised if Miles offers to keep you company. He's not an attendant and he isn't a friendly good Samaritan.
Miles is the name given to the first ever BP Personality Pump, an interactive smart pump that will first start appearing at BP stations this year. Miles uses proprietary technology allowing him to "speak" with consumers as they are filling their tanks. Miles receives responses in real-time through a touchscreen tablet allowing consumers to interact with him via an array of entertainment options.
"We know that most people don't enjoy pumping gas. So we asked ourselves, how can we make those moments spent at the pump more fun," said Donna Sanker, chief marketing officer of BP Fuels North America. "With the BP Personality Pump, we hope to redefine perceptions of the routine fill-up and build a meaningful relationship with our consumers, giving them a fulfilling and entertaining experience during the time they spend with us."
Miles is programmed to interact with consumers in several different ways. During their visit, consumers will have the opportunity to engage Miles by playing music trivia, selecting songs to play through Pandora or even by recording a video e-card that they can then share on their social media channels. And, upon finishing filling up their tank, consumers will also have the opportunity to send themselves a text message with the content they created during their interaction with Miles. This message will include a link to the Pandora station they chose as well as a special return offer.
The goal, according to BP, is to make the otherwise routine task of filling a gas tank more fun and memorable.
Miles will first appear in November, 2016 in the Chicago and New York Metro areas.
To showcase more of Miles' capabilities, BP has teamed up with The Onion Inc.'s creative services agency, Onion Labs, to develop a series of videos capturing customers' interactions with Miles. You can watch this video, titled Laura & Miles, to learn more about the first-ever Personality Pump. You can find more videos at www.theonion.com/special/innovation.
(BPT) - New vehicles are packed full of the latest and greatest technology. Among their many capabilities, today’s vehicles can automatically apply brakes to avoid collisions, maintain a designated following distance behind the car ahead of it and maneuver the vehicle back into its lane if the driver veers out of it. Some cars can even drive and park themselves!
Additionally, in-car Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots allow passengers to connect their computers, tablets and smartphones to the internet from the convenience of the vehicle cabin. Bluetooth allows hands-free use of phones, and infotainment systems let people enjoy their favorite tunes, access apps, navigate and more.
These technological advances provide tremendous benefits for drivers and passengers, but much of this technology can also be used to launch cyberattacks on your vehicle.
“Modern cars are essentially rolling computers and, just as your laptop, smartphone or tablet can be hacked, so can these driving machines,” says Craig Smith, author of The Car Hacker’s Handbook and founder of the Open Garages vehicle research lab.
Millions of today’s vehicles possess vulnerabilities that leave them open to new age methods of theft that don’t require a key or Slim Jim or, worse, situations where drivers no longer have control over their vehicles while driving. Mercury Insurance, one of the nation’s leading auto insurance providers, recently connected with Smith to help keep drivers safe and shed some light on this growing problem.
According to Smith, there are several key vulnerable areas consumers should be aware of, including:
* On-board diagnostics-II (OBD-II) ports;
* Key fobs;
* Infotainment systems (including audio files that owners may have synced for in-car entertainment);
* In-car Wi-Fi;
* Mobile hotspots;
* Navigation systems;
* Smartphones (connected to cars via Bluetooth); and
* Tire pressure monitoring systems.
“There are many factors that go into determining a vehicle’s risk of being hacked,” says Smith, who has worked in the security industry for more than 20 years and with the auto industry for five. “Newer vehicles have what we call a higher ‘attack surface,’ meaning there are more areas that are hackable."
“If you are specifically concerned about remote hackers, as opposed to those who have physical access to your car, then look at the wireless systems your vehicle supports. If your vehicle has telematics, satellite or digital radio, internet, Bluetooth, or wireless key fobs, these wireless services can provide entry points for an attacker over varied distances. This is also true for aftermarket components added to your vehicles, such as dongles plugged into your vehicle to monitor your driving for insurance reasons.”
Local hackers can gain access to a car to unlock it and steal its contents or even start the ignition to steal the vehicle.
To protect against vehicle hacking, Smith recommends disabling wireless services that aren’t being used. Consumers should refer to the information their auto manufacturer provides on vehicle features, decide which ones are important and only enable those options. Those who wish to use a dongle in their vehicle should try to use it sparingly and take it with them when they leave their car.
“The key to protecting your vehicle if it’s deemed at-risk for hacking is to disable the components that have the most risk. For instance, if the radio unit is the culprit you can disable it or replace it,” says Smith. “And while newer vehicles tend to have a larger attack surface, they also have more safety features that can help minimize or avoid injury in a collision, so you should consider that as well.”
Mercury Insurance is helping consumers answer the question “How Hackable is Your Car?” with an infographic that shows the areas of a consumer’s specific vehicle that may be vulnerable to a cyberattack. Visit https://blog.mercuryinsurance.com/how-hackable-is-your-car to learn more.
“We continuously review the automotive marketplace, so we can provide consumers with important information about how to protect themselves, families and property, whether it’s about the dangers of distracted driving, teen driving safety or, now, vehicle hacking,” says Tom Coyne, auto line lead for Mercury Insurance. “And Mercury doesn’t use dongle technology because we don’t want to increase our customers’ risk of a cyberattack, which we think they appreciate.”
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