Automatic Braking Saves Lives

Soon enough, your car will be a much better driver than you are. Why shouldn’t it be? You have a million different things to think about during the day, like what time the kids have to be at school, what you have to get done at work, and what to fix for dinner. All your car has to think about is driving from Point A to Point B, and in this technological age, car manufacturers are racing to come up with new ways to make your car smarter and safer on the road.

Automatic Braking

Enter automatic braking, intelligent braking, pre-collision systems, collision warning with brake support, or whatever fancy name the car company gives it. The system scans for possible hazards ahead of the car and measures factors such as speed and steering angle. If the readings imply a collision is imminent, the car will charge the brakes or apply them outright.

The technology is a futuristic driving fantasy that has become a reality in order to help save lives on the road, and there is a good possibility it will come to a car dealership near you. Automatic braking is currently available in several high-end car models, such as Audi, Lexus, and BMW. As development continues, more affordable cars, including some Chrysler models, will be outfitted.

The theory behind the automatic, or intelligent, braking system is that it allows the car to react more quickly than most drivers can. In most systems, sensors on the front of the car read obstacles ahead, other cars in particular, and judge their velocity. Advanced systems can stop the car, avoiding a collision entirely. Less-advanced systems will apply the brakes and slow the car to help lessen impact. Other systems tighten the seatbelts to help reduce the risk of injury to drivers and passengers in the event of an unavoidable collision.

Forward Collision Avoidance Assist Concept

Nissan, for example, has developed a system called the Forward Collision Avoidance Assist Concept. This wordy system combines radar with a computer to scan objects in front of the vehicle. If the speed appears to be too high when approaching an object, the system will alert the driver with a sound, lift the gas pedal, and press the brake pedal. This is not, however, a jarring, wheel-screeching, rubber-burning event; it is, rather, an indicator to the driver to take action soon or risk the consequences.

With their sights on new technology, many car companies are becoming computer hardware and software engineering companies as well, inserting advanced computer systems toeing the line of artificial intelligence into their cars. These computers are programmed to be aware of information about the vehicle a normal driver might never even consider, right down to the amount of air in the tires and how that might affect the ride. With intelligent traction and handling, the car can adjust its performance based on weather and road conditions, preparing for situations when a driver bundles up his or her fists into white knuckles on the steering wheel while hoping for the best.

Automated Cars are the Future

It is a lesser-known fact, for instance, that some car companies, primarily BMW, are working on vehicle prototypes that can drive themselves. They have turned their cars into giant sensors, radars, and GPS receivers that receive a constant flurry of information from the road, everything near the road, and from outer space, using satellite coordinates to program their routes. BMW has demonstrated a working prototype, which, with some guidance input, can navigate its way around a racetrack at optimal speeds without driver input.

The days of completely self-driven cars are far in the future, but some of these technologies, especially advanced braking systems, are working their way into everyday cars in order to achieve the ultimate goal: to make roads safer. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) recently released solid evidence of the impact automatic brakes are making on the roads, indicating the automatic braking version of some Volvo SUVs is preventing one out of four low-speed crashes. That’s a 75% success rate for avoiding those exceptionally annoying fender-benders that tie up traffic and bump up insurance rates.1

These reports of low-speed collision avoidance systems boost the IIHS’s optimism. Their success in avoiding minor accidents bodes well for systems meant to help prevent major accidents. The IIHS expects to have more solid information on high-speed automatic braking systems within the year, and hopes its findings will affect the rules set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Stopping 1.9 Million Crashes a Year

In addition to a host of other crash avoidance features currently in research, automatic braking systems could have a great effect, not only on safety, but also on insurance rates. The IIHS estimates that crash avoidance features could prevent or lessen the impact of 1.9 million crashes a year and help prevent one out of three fatal crashes. Those numbers could make a marked difference in the price owners of such cars pay for insurance. It could reduce the costs of insurance for everyone as well since it also reduces crash rates by not colliding with other cars.

Automatic brakes could be, literally, a lifesaver. Why shouldn’t your car be a better driver than you? Driving is its job, its only job, and with the technology of automatic braking, the future of the road is a safer one. Soon enough, we’ll all have the pleasure of sitting back and enjoying the ride.

Most Dangerous States for Drivers

In the United States in 2009, there were more than 30,000 fatal car accidents, and over 5,000 of these were the result of distracted driving. One study used this data to determine what states had the worst drivers, since a car accident is an objective way to view someone as a bad driver. It focused on the fatal accidents reported that year, since all states have to disclose these figures. After the number of accidents was gathered, the study focused on the number of crashes that were caused by drivers making mistakes such as irresponsible driving, failing to stop at red lights or stop signs, driving under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving.

To make sure that the size of the state did not have an influence on the results, the study took an average of the number of crashes that occurred in each state with the number of licenses issued in the respective states. The study also took into account the states where drivers were on the road more and thus increased the risk of accidents by factoring in exactly how many miles each driver traveled, as well as how long each driver was in the car.

Results of the Study

Some of the results were expected: drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 were the most dangerous on the road in almost all states. However, while most Americans may assume that big cities such as Los Angeles or New York City boast the worst drivers, the results of the study show otherwise.

North Dakota ranked number one among all states as the area with the worst drivers. There were 116 fatal crashes in this state alone and North Dakota ranked number one under the “failure to obey traffic signs or signals” section. Second on the list, Montana, reported 198 fatal crashes and ranked number two in the “driving under the influence” category. The third state with the worst drivers, Kentucky, reported 730 fatal crashes and came in third under the “careless or inattentive driving” section.

What Can We Do?

How can we improve the quality of our driving, especially in the Midwestern states? First, we can try to be safe at all times. Avoid aggressive driving and always pay attention to the road. We need to always be aware of our surroundings and get into the habit of scanning 20 to 30 seconds ahead of our vehicles so that we can react in the event of an emergency.

Don’t assume other drivers will drive carefully or make the moves you anticipate. Always assume the other driver is about to make a careless move and prepare yourself accordingly. Keep a 3-to-4 second distance from the car ahead of you, giving adequate time to stop if the other driver slams on his brakes.

Speed limits are posted for a reason—follow them. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure he is in control of his vehicle at all times. If you see multiple risks on the road, separate them and deal with them one by one. Finally, one of the best ways to improve our driving is to eliminate all distractions such as talking on a cellular telephone, eating, playing with the radio or engaging in a heated discussion with a passenger.

Battle of the Driving Sexes: Winner Gets the Cheapest Car Insurance Quotes

For years, women have been battling the stereotype that they are horrible and unsafe drivers. Not only does this stereotype affect women and their driving abilities, but it may also be wrong. More evidence is surfacing that proves that female drivers are no worse than males.

A UK-based insurance company researched the difference and similarities between men and women drivers and concluded that men actually have larger, more serious car crashes, resulting in higher insurance claims. The insurance company focused on 200,000 claims and found that accidents involving men under the age of 25 cost 15 percent more than accidents involving 25-year-old women. A British safety group also pointed out that one in 60 male drivers is involved in an accident that results in either injury or death.

Additionally, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that there are more fatalities annually among men than women. Their data shows that in 2009, 23,726 male drivers died versus 10,070 female drivers.

What Do Insurance Companies See?

Insurance companies have gathered statistics based on car accident claims and have concluded that accidents cause by women typically stem from distracted driving. Men are more likely to be involved in car crashes that are the result of deliberate, risk-taking behaviors like aggressive driving or speeding, resulting in a 27 percent more likely chance that they are at fault.

Under the age of 21, women have significantly lower car insurance rates than men. Accidents caused by women are less severe than those caused by men, so the insurance companies do not have to pay out as much in their claims. Men may also purchase faster, more expensive cars, which ultimately cost more to repair. Women are also more likely to pay their premiums on time and not miss a payment.

Difference between Men and Women?

Driving is skill-based. The vehicle has no idea if a man or a woman is pushing on the gas pedal. Males tend to be riskier when behind the wheel, especially men between the ages of 16 and 25 who are most likely to be in an accident or pulled over for violating traffic rules. Men typically drive faster, tail other cars, drive without seatbelts and operate the vehicle while drinking. Females, on the other hand, are less likely to test their limits and they take instruction better from others. More importantly, women are more likely to admit when they are wrong or when they didn’t know something about the road or their vehicle. Men, conversely, tend to think of themselves as superior and above average in terms of their driving skills. This overconfidence leads to dangerous driving.

As of right now, we cannot conclude if men or women are better drivers; the results simply tell us that both sexes have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to driving. We can tell you, however, than women are more likely to get the best rate when they compare car insurance quotes.


You Never Expect It: Children in Pedestrian Collisions

When you think of car safety, you usually think of how a car reacts when it is in a traffic accident at an intersection or on a busy street. People rarely consider how safe a car is when it is not on the road. Unfortunately, most vehicles have blind spots and are not equipped to keep pedestrians safe in parking lots or driveways. Non-traffic collisions are common, which is spurring the development of new car safety gear designed to cut down on the number of pedestrian injuries.

Non-Traffic Collisions Happen Frequently

Hundreds of children under the age of 14 are killed in parking lot or driveway collisions with motor vehicles in the United States each year, while thousands more sustain injuries. The most typical pedestrian collisions happen when a child unexpectedly moves in front of or behind a vehicle before it begins to move. Smaller children are particularly susceptible to backing accidents. They fall below the driver’s line of sight, even when looking behind to back up. Even though the car is moving slowly, children can suffer severe injuries in these accidents because cars are so heavy. An unprotected pedestrian doesn’t stand much of a chance against a large automobile, no matter how fast the car is moving.

Legislation Introduced to Make Driveways and Parking Lots Safer

The death of Cameron Gulbransen, a 2-year-old who was accidentally run over in the driveway by his father, has inspired new legislation that is meant to force auto manufacturers to improve the parking lot and driveway safety features on new cars. The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act would give the federal Department of Transportation the power to require automakers to install safety equipment to help prevent pedestrian accidents. The Act has been approved, but it is currently making its way through committees and faces several more years of discussion before it becomes a law.

Car Manufacturers Working to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents

Many automobile manufacturers are making safety changes ahead of any legal requirements or changes to the safety laws. Volvo has always prided itself on the safety of passengers, and now the automaker has begun to shift its attention toward the safety of people outside their cars. A new feature on the 2011 Volvo S60 uses radars and cameras to detect objects within a certain range of the vehicle. The alert system works day or night and sounds an alarm if it detects someone within the specified danger zone when the car is in motion. If the alert sounds but the driver doesn’t respond quickly enough, the car will automatically apply full brakes to avoid hitting the object.

Passenger Safety Better than Pedestrian Safety

Parents and car manufacturers have focused much of their attention toward the safety of children inside the automobile. New car safety seats, car safety features, and safety regulations have reduced the number of injuries and fatalities of children in traffic collisions. Proponents of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act are hopeful that the new regulations could have the same positive impact on the injury and death rate of children outside the cars as well.


Never Hit another Car in the Rear Again

As part of its ongoing attempt to make cars safer for everyone, Volvo has introduced an innovative new technology that is designed to reduce the number of rear-end accidents on congested highways. The new system involves a laser that mounts on the front bumper of the 2011 Volvo XC60 SUV. Called City Safety, the laser system measures the distance between the front bumper of the SUV and objects in front of it. If the car moves within a certain range of an object, the City Safety system will automatically apply the brakes without waiting to alert the driver.

Technology for Slow Moving Vehicles

While there are other systems designed to prevent crashes at higher speeds, City Safety is the first system specifically designed to protect against low-speed impacts. The system only engages when the car is moving at 20 mph or slower. It monitors any object within 18 feet of the front bumper and works in both daytime and nighttime conditions. According to national insurance company data, rear-end collisions at slow speeds are the most commonly reported accidents. City Safety is designed to focus specifically on reducing this type of accident.

Rear End Collisions Reduced During Congested Traffic

The reason rear-end collisions are so common is because they can happen in any traffic jam situation. When cars line up in slower moving highway traffic, it can be easy to accidentally run into the car in front of you. Many of the rear-end accidents result in several accidents at once because the cars behind the initial accident are unable to stop in time. Cars that are involved in fender benders on busy highways increase the danger of further accidents until they can move out of the flow of traffic. The people involved in these accidents also have a greater risk of personal injury because they usually exit their vehicles and stand on the side of the busy road until the accident has been fully investigated and reported.

Claims are Less Expensive

City Safety may not be able to prevent every rear-end collision, but it does help keep the insurance claims costs lower if an accident happens. The system will engage in situations when a driver may have been unaware of the danger and reacted more slowly. City Safety slows the car down enough that a more serious accident can be less serious because the impact happens at an even slower speed. The system could save time and money for insurance companies as well as drivers.

Federal Agency Monitoring Safety Technology Improvements

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is keeping a close eye on new technology that increases the safety of new vehicles. David Strickland, the NHTSA Administrator, is excited about the innovative changes under development for new cars. The Highway Loss Data Institute reports a noticeable reduction in the volume of insurance claims processed for drivers who own the XC60. High-speed crash rates have remained constant, but the City Safety system has made a tangible difference in the amount of money insurance companies are paying out for rear-end collisions at slow speeds.

Compare Car Insurance Rates with Progressive’s New VIN Capture App

Progressive is one of the first car insurance companies to acknowledge the country’s shift away from standard internet sites and toward smartphone apps. The insurance company has released a new app for iPhone and Android users that is easy to use and packed with practical features. Users can manage every aspect of their Progressive insurance policy through a smartphone device. They can also compare insurance costs for any car instantly, and they can purchase a new Progressive policy as soon as they purchase a new car.

VIN App Gives You Automatic Rate Information

One of the most unique features on the new app is VIN recognition. While you are shopping for a new car, you can find out how much you should expect to pay to insure the car by taking a snapshot of the VIN number with your phone. Progressive takes the snapshot and plugs it into their insurance comparison system, which will automatically give you a report listing several insurance rates from different companies for that particular car. Keep in mind that the rates are quoted based only on the car’s history. If you haven’t given Progressive a record of your own personal driving history, place of residence, or other details about your life, your real insurance rate could be different from the VIN quote.

Buy a New Policy with Your Phone

Once you have finished shopping and decided to buy a new car, you can use the smartphone app to instantly purchase a Progressive insurance policy for that car. The app makes it easy to get insurance before you ever leave the dealer’s lot. Your paperwork will be sent to your home address, but the app will give you a screen that includes proof of valid insurance coverage as soon as you finish the mobile registration for your new vehicle.

App Works with Snapshot Program

Many Progressive customers are taking advantage of their new Snapshot program that allows them to only pay for the miles that they actually drive each month. The Progressive mobile app ties into the program neatly. You can use your smartphone to verify your mileage through a quick snapshot, then send the information directly to Progressive without having to log onto a computer. The app will also allow you to look at your Snapshot account from any location. You can make changes to the account and track your real-time Snapshot discounts in the palm of your hand.

Make Payments or Policy Changes

The Progressive mobile app plugs existing customers directly into their account management information. If you have an account, you can use the app to make payments the same way you would make payments through a traditional website. You can also request changes to your account and update your personal information with Progressive if you have a new address or new contact information. The app contains up to the minute account information so that you can always see what coverage you currently carry and the details of your personal policy. If more than one vehicle is on the same policy, you will be able to access information about each of the vehicles through the same Progressive mobile app.


Average Cost of Auto Insurance in Texas

Texas is second only to California in the number of licensed drivers on its highways, at almost 13.5 million. California is the winner, with over 22.6 million drivers. Texans like to joke that turn signals give drivers clues as to your next move, and that “real” Texas drivers do not use them. With so many drivers on the road, the reality may not be if, but when, you will be involved in a traffic accident. Surprisingly, even with so many drivers, the average Texas auto insurance rates are actually reasonable.

Texas — Minimum Insurance Requirements

Each state has different minimum auto insurance requirements. Most require only liability coverage; Texas liability insurance requirements are 30/60/25. This is a shorthand way of saying you need liability insurance providing coverage limits of at least $30,000 for each person and $60,000 per accident for injuries, and $25,000 coverage for damage to property.

Coverage limits signify the highest amount an insurance company will pay out, regardless of the actual expense. The state of Texas does not endorse the minimum limits as adequate — you may need to assess your own situation and ability to pay for accident costs that exceed your insurance limits. Because of ever-increasing costs of medical care, some experts recommend 100/300/100 as a more protective level of liability coverage.

Additional Coverage Types

To adequately protect yourself, you may want to consider other types of auto insurance besides the basic liability coverage. Liability insurance pays for damage or injuries you cause to someone else, but does not provide money for you to repair your own car or cover your medical costs. Collision insurance pays for damage to your vehicle if you collide with another car or object.

Comprehensive coverage takes care of everything else – if your car sustains damage in a tornado, flood, fire or hailstorm it’s covered. Comprehensive also covers damage from hitting a deer in the road or from vandalism. Personal Injury Protection, or PIP insurance, covers your medical costs in an accident but is not necessary if you have a good health insurance policy from your employer.

Average Car Insurance in Texas

According to’s ongoing study of insurance rates by state, in 2011 Texans are paying $1,287 per year for auto insurance on average. This figure represents the cost of full coverage — meaning comprehensive, collision and liability insurance coverage. This compares to a national annual premium average of $1,436 for 2011. Auto insurance trends have been heading down over the last three years for most states, including Texas. In 2009, the average rate was $1,809. The average fell to $1,518 in 2010.

The Texas Department of Insurance provides a tool for state residents to get an idea of the cost of the liability component of auto insurance based on different zip codes, credit ratings, marital status, age, driving record and other factors that insurers consider when pricing insurance policies. The tool, located at the state-sponsored, allows you to enter your information and get an idea of what average auto insurance liability coverage might cost you.

For example, we entered the following characteristics — a male, married driver living in Houston, zip code 75844, age between 25 to 65, with good credit. Our prototype driver selected liability coverage limits of 100/300/100. He drives a 2007 Ford F150 truck, to and from work, and has a clean driving record. The tool return sample insurance rates from 42 different insurance companies and includes the insurer’s credit rating and a complaint index, representing how many consumer complaints the company has received.

Additionally, the tool shows the insurance companies’ rate change trends over the last three years, by year. For our hypothetical driver, the lowest rate came from Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, with an annual cost of $256, an “A” credit rating and a zero for the complaint index. This number represents strictly liability coverage; adding comprehensive, collision and any other types of coverage will increase the rate.

Finding the Best Insurance

Most of us are not independently wealthy, and there are better things to do with your money than paying more than you need to for auto insurance. Everyone has a unique combination of factors considered by insurers, so you could get substantially different rates than your neighbors or extended family members. Additionally, each insurance company uses its own “secret” methods for calculating risk and weighting certain factors more than others.

This means you might find dramatically cheaper rates, just by getting a few quotes. It’s a good idea to get quotes every six months. Imagine if you were still paying the 2009 average of $1,809 today, even though in 2011 other Texans are paying an average of $1,287 per year. That savings is a new iPad, and all you need to do is request a few quotes to find cheaper rates. The best part is that quotes are so easy to get now. Just enter your zip code on our website and you can have quotes to compare in about 10 minutes.

Cheap Car Insurance for High School Students

When your darling son or daughter starts driving, your auto insurance rates may rise even higher than your stress level. After years of playing taxi, relish the fact that the can kids drive themselves somewhere for a change. Don’t let skyrocketing auto insurance costs put a damper on your joy, either — try these tips to review your insurance coverage and make changes that will get you lower auto insurance rates.

Combine Coverage

Combining coverage is an easy way to keep insurance premiums low. Combine your teen’s car and any other family cars all on one insurance policy. Purchase homeowners, renters or any other required insurance from the same company to get a multi-policy discount. Also consider buying an umbrella policy — this coverage will make up the difference if your high school driver has an accident that exceeds the limits of your liability policy.

Car Choice

The car your teen drives is one of the factors that affects insurance rates. State Farm has a tool that evaluates different car models based on indexes for collision damage (comprehensive premiums), damage and theft (collision premiums), and liability insurance premiums. Each car receives letter grades according to how their premiums compare. For example, a Honda CRV scores an A, B and A. This means insurance companies charge significantly lower-than-standard premiums for comprehensive insurance, somewhat-lower-than-standard for collision, and significantly-lower-than-standard premiums for liability coverage. Another way to find cheap-to-insure cars is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s list of top safety picks. Published each year, this list contains the top 60-or-so cars in various categories that have the best crash-test scores and consequently, the lowest insurance premiums.

Policy Changes and Discounts

Change your auto insurance deductibles to at least $1,000. This can lower rates substantially while also keeping you from submitting smaller claims that might cause you to lose your discounted rates from a claims-free history. Keep a little bit more cash in savings in case anyone has a traffic mishap.

Encourage your high school driver to get good grades to take advantage of the good student discount. Many insurance companies offer sizable discounts for kids who keep their grades at or above a “B” average. The discount also applies to any children in college, as long as they maintain 12 or more class units.

Ask your insurance company about other available discounts for your high school-age drivers. Some insurance companies offer programs teaching driver safety and will give you a discounted rate if your child participates. Other insurers may give discounts for third-party driver safety or defensive driving programs your child completes.

Drop Some Coverage

If you have older cars in the family, consider that they may not be worth much more than the insurance deductible. Even if the car is totaled, you will get less money from the insurance company than you will pay in premiums. If this describes your cars, it makes sense to drop comprehensive and collision insurance coverage.

Learner’s Permit

Some insurance companies will allow your teen to drive with her learner’s permit without being added onto your insurance. As long as you drive with her, she should be covered under your current policy, but call your insurance company to verify. Teens need all the driving experience they can get, so it might make sense to have them drive with a permit for a longer period — they become better, safer drivers and you save money.

Change Coverage Limits

Consider boosting your liability insurance limits to protect your family once your teen has been added to your insurance. This does not save money up front but could be the best thing you’ve ever done if your teen should cause an accident. The cost of increasing coverage limits may be much less than you realize — according to “The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance…” by Kimberly Lankford, depending on your circumstances, changing liability limits from, say, 100/300/100 to 250/500/250, could cost you as little as $40 more per year.

How Important is Shopping Around?

Shopping around for auto insurance is a very important part of finding lower rates. The last five years or so have seen many changes in the way insurance companies assess risk, mostly because technology has provided improved methods for analyzing mass quantities of accident data. Insurers are able to fine-tune their quotes based on several characteristics of each driver. However, each insurer uses this complexity differently, and it is not uncommon to get quotes with a difference of $1,000 or more from different companies, using exactly the same driver profile.

Additionally, an insurance company that may be the cheapest for adult drivers might become the most expensive once a teen is added to the policy. Many people overpay for auto insurance each year because they do not make the time or have the desire to get new quotes. The quoting process has also improved with new technology, and many insurers provide online quotes in about 10 minutes at no charge. A 10-minute investment that could reward you with a three-or four-digit reduction in auto insurance costs sounds like a pretty safe bet, don’t you think?

Free Online Car Insurance Quotes

The hunt for affordable car insurance takes time and the numerous options can become confusing. Fortunately, with the advent of the Internet, the process of finding car insurance has been substantially simplified.

Car insurance websites help research your needs and connect you with the right insurance companies, and receiving free quotes online helps you make the best insurance choices for yourself and your family. However, even though insurance websites have made quoting easy, it’s best to figure out exactly what type of insurance, and how much of it, you need before requesting your quotes.

How Much Car Insurance Should You Get?

When considering your car insurance needs, start with the minimum requirements for the state in which you reside — your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and some car insurance websites can provide this information. Most states require at least liability coverage, and some require PIP, or personal injury protection. Some states, usually no-fault insurance states, require uninsured motorist protection.

Keep in mind, each states’ required coverage limits might not be sufficient to cover all of the costs in an accident. Consider how much insurance you would require to protect all of your assets in a worst-case scenario.

Specialized Car Insurance Needs

Your personal situation dictates the type of car insurance required for proper protection. Do you have a few points on your driving record? A DUI? Or do you have a special, classic or custom car that you have invested a lot of money in and keep garaged most of the time? Different insurance companies tend to focus on covering a certain niche of drivers.

Many insurers are happy to cover drivers with perfect records, but higher-risk drivers benefit from choosing a company that specializes in providing high-risk coverage. The rates will be much lower, and has partnerships with a variety of insurers that cover these specialty markets in addition to standard-risk policies

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage is the basic type of auto insurance. This insurance covers the other person in an accident, but does not pay for damages to your own vehicle or injuries you sustain. In addition to requiring certain coverage types, each state also has required limits for liability insurance. For example, the state of California requires 15/30/5, or $15,000 of bodily injury coverage per person in one accident; $30,000 coverage for all parties injured in one accident and $5,000 to cover property damage in one accident.

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

Comprehensive and collision coverage protect you and your car. Collision coverage provides reimbursement for damages from a collision with another car or object. Comprehensive insurance takes care of damages that did not result from a collision. For example, if vandals attack your car or you hit a deer on the road, comprehensive, not collision, insurance covers the damage. Damage from a hailstorm, fallen tree or flood is also covered under comprehensive insurance.

People driving newer-model cars usually need comprehensive and collision coverage. For older cars, it may be less expensive to pay for repairs out-of-pocket. The cost of comprehensive and collision insurance can be expensive, possibly costing more than the amount of repairs or the total value of an older car. Newer cars, and any car that is financed through a loan or lease, will most likely need comprehensive and collision insurance to comply with the financing terms.

Additional Types of Coverage

Gap insurance coverage provides a safety net if your car is totaled in an accident. Most insurance policies only cover the vehicle’s current market value. Additionally, you may be at the mercy of the insurance company when this value is calculated. Gap insurance pays the difference between money from the insurance company and the true value of your vehicle. Gap insurance may also be a requirement in some financing contracts. Other coverage options include emergency road service and rental car reimbursement.

Insurance Company Reputation

Free quotes will help you find the lowest-cost insurance — but before you grab that policy, consider the quality of the company. A cheap policy is not cheap if the insurance company denies or under-pays your claim, or provides grossly inadequate customer service. JD Power and Associates performs an annual National Auto Insurance Study to assess the quality of the nation’s largest insurance companies.

Ratings include policy offerings, pricing, billing and payment and contacting the insurer. National credit rating agencies A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings provide financial strength ratings to verify that insurers have the ability to pay out claims.

Free Online Car Insurance Quotes

Free car insurance quotes are available on many different car insurance websites, especially those of the larger, nationwide insurers. The quotes should be free — after all, the car insurance industry is very competitive, and these insurance companies want your business.

Shopping different insurance companies is the easiest way to get lower insurance premiums, since each one will evaluate your situation differently. Some insurance companies place less weight on factors such as traffic tickets, so it’s definitely important to investigate several companies. can help you get started with insurance companies in your area; just enter your zip code.

Alcohol Sensors in Every Car?

Drunk driving is still a problem in almost every part of the nation. In 2009 alone, over 10,000 traffic fatalities were linked directly to drivers who had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit. Although the consequences of driving while intoxicated are already severe, they don’t seem to be keeping enough people out of the driver’s seat when they’ve had too much to drink. Many organizations have banded together to petition the federal government for more funding to create accurate and practical alcohol sensors that could be installed in every new car.

Several Agencies Backing Research Efforts

Insurance companies, auto manufacturers, and safety advocates support the funding and research into alcohol sensor technology as an appropriate response to alcohol related traffic accidents. They promote the sensor technology as a passive safety feature that would effectively prevent anyone from operating a motor vehicle if their blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit. The groups are asking for more federal money to continue research and development into alcohol sensors that are as sensitive and accurate as possible. The sensors would also need to be acceptable to the public, which might be one of the most daunting prospects to the wider distribution of any alcohol sensor implementation.

Sensors Disable Ignition if Alcohol Levels are Too High

The sensors would lock a car’s ignition system if the driver were too impaired to drive legally. The actual design varies. Some sensors are placed in the steering wheel and measure blood-alcohol content through the oils on a driver’s hands. Other sensors could go in the rear-view mirror and monitor a driver’s eye movements before the car starts. Breath analyzers are also an option as part of the alcohol sensor research.

Some Groups Concerned About Accuracy

Some groups are worried about the effectiveness and fairness of the proposed alcohol sensors. The groups express fear that the sensors will never be able to be fully accurate, which could leave sober drivers unable to start their cars in some situations. These groups propose that alcohol related car accidents would decrease if law enforcement simply did a better job of policing the posted speed limit. A large majority of alcohol related accidents occur because the impaired driver was speeding. These groups believe that more money should be directed toward controlling traffic speed than developing new technology that could malfunction and leave a legal driver unable to operate a motor vehicle.

Alcohol-Related Accidents Expensive for Everyone Involved

An alcohol related accident costs more than a typical accident in several ways. Since most of these accidents occur at high speeds, there are higher medical costs due to more severe injuries. Passengers who are injured face months or years of rehabilitation. The damage to the vehicles is usually more severe as well. Drivers convicted of operating a vehicle while impaired face much higher fines. They could even face manslaughter charges if there is a fatality. Anyone convicted of a DUI faces incredibly high insurance rates for several years. In some states, drivers who have more than one DUI on their record could lose the privilege to drive altogether.