Tis the Season for Stressful Holiday Driving!

Last week I was on pick up duty for my son’s last day of school before the holiday break. Typically I’m on drop off duty so I don’t get to see the traffic coming in and out of the school at the end of the school day. I should have known better.

I drove into my son’s school parking lot about five minutes before school got out. My son is a junior in high school and I was picking him up on the last day before the winter break. Usually my husband picks him up on his way home from work, however this day was a bit different. In my son’s school parking lot there is pretty much only one way in and out with the entrance manned by a traffic light. If you get stuck at a red light, you’ve got to sit in the parking lot forever. That’s my first issue.

I drove into the parking lot it and there was a typical line of parents waiting in the pick up line but it wasn’t backed up enough to deter me from entering the parking lot. As I drove down a row of vehicles school go out. I could see the crowd of students making their way into the parking lot. I kinda felt like I was in a scene of the walking dead because it was like the herd of zombies walking towards me.

What happened next is my second issue. I witnessed almost four accidents just in the lane I was stuck in. These were accidents that could have happened not just from young drivers but parents picking up their kid! As I sat in this row of vehicles I saw several people trying to muscle their way out of the parking spot to get into the lane to leave. Not only were they inching closer to each vehicle, but many of them were on their phones half paying attention. Third issue. Since we were all stuck until the light turned green it was like a classic game of chicken, you know like the one in Footloose who will outlast the other? Who will win?

As my son got into my car he and I both sat there just watching this madness. Parents and students on their phones trying to muscle in line so they could leave. It was rush rush rush in a place where clearly no one was going anywhere. I was majorly practicing patience here. I also took the time for a teaching moment with my son and also explain to him that is why it auto insurance is so expensive with a young driver. Young drivers do not have experience, and while there are those young drivers that are extra careful following the rules they still lack experience on the road and making decisions. Making good, smart decisions in seconds. Now I’m not sure if this was just because it was the last day before holiday break for the kids, and for the parents the middle of a stressful holiday season but man!

I also witnessed the very next morning on my way to work a three car accident. It happened a few vehicles in front of me and I do not know the details but from the looks of it when I drove by someone rear ended someone. Since it’s the holidays it seems like everyone is out all at the same time. Even everyday tasks like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, going to the gym etc are hectic. I went to the gym the other day and I felt like I was trying to find parking at a major event center for a concert!

Now we can’t control how many people are out or someone else’s attitude, but we can control our own actions and many of the accidents and almost accidents I have seen were due to distracted driving or impatience. I’m sure many of you have witnessed several instances this holiday season too, it’s not just me. I know we all have places to go, things to do, and people to see but is it worth it to get into an accident? I ask myself is stressing out and trying to rush worth it? Is checking my phone or changing the music worth it?

Did you know that an at fault accident is chargeable on your auto policy for three years? Even if it is just a tiny fender bender where there doesn’t look to be much damage to your vehicle or the other vehicle. It is still chargeable, and it does raise your premium. We do not have an exact figure of how much your policy will increase with an at fault accident, but it usually is a significant difference from what your premium usually is. If there is bodily injury in the accident the charge will be more because it is now an at fault accident with bodily injury.

Tickets and accidents come on and off your policy at a renewal. So if you have an accident in December and your renewal isn’t until February then you will see that accident come on your policy in February. It will remain on your policy until the renewal after the three year mark. Along with an at fault accident being chargeable, you are also no longer eligible to receive the California Good Driver Discount. The California Good Driver Discount is added automatically after you have had three years of driving experience without any tickets or accidents. This is another reason why brand new drivers have a higher premium. They do not qualify to be a California Good Driver until after three years of experience without tickets or accidents. When you get a ticket or have an at fault accident that discount is removed until you have three years of driving without any tickets or accidents. Once you are eligible the discount is automatically applied to your policy.

So if you do have an accident not only will you be dealing with the claim, but you’ll be looking at an increase to your policy and paying for it for the next three years. I know the holidays are stressful but while you are driving try to prepare yourself as best as you can for the road to avoid an accident. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to be. Prep your music playlist or set up a podcast so you don’t have to mess with the radio. Pay closer attention to those around you and put down the phone, even when you are at a stop light. Just remember to ask yourself is it worth it and try to remember what the Holidays are really about! I wish you all safe driving out there and a Happy Holiday Season!

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