Reducing Your Auto Liability Exposure
By Universal Underwriters Group's Loss Prevention Department

Have you ever been waiting at a four-way stop when finally it's your turn to go and two other drivers decide it's their turn as well? Driving through intersections is one of the most dangerous and complex situations a driver encounters. One of every three vehicle accidents takes place in an intersection. Failure to yield the right of way is the primary cause of those accidents.

Taking the right of way for granted, even if you are entitled to it, could leave you "dead right." Left-hand turns expose you and your passengers at the vehicle's weakest point -- the side doors. The Department of Transportion says side-impact crashes are the most serious kind of collisions, and they most frequently occur where? That's right, at intersections.

The following steps may help you and your employees avoid intersection accidents:

• First, avoid unregulated intersections and left-hand turns. Plan driving routes with right-hand turns when possible. Intersections with stoplights are safer than intersections with stop signs, and they are safer than completely unregulated intersections.

• Always be prepared to yield the right of way at an intersection. Slowing down and pausing a few seconds to permit the other driver to pass safely will eliminate many intersection accidents. At four-way stops, yield to vehicles that arrived first. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the vehicle on the left should yield to the one on the right.

• Always yield to pedestrians.

• Stoplights can be very hazardous. Remember that yellow means, "caution, prepare to stop" not "put the pedal to the metal." When the light turns green, don't accelerate immediately into the intersection. Take an extra second or two to scan left and right, and then left again to look for oncoming traffic.

• Always use caution when entering an intersection. And, again, always be prepared to yield the right of way even if it's rightfully yours.

Most accidents can be avoided by staying alert, following at a safe distance, focusing on driving, and by being courteous. Defensive drivers expect the unexpected and take nothing for granted. They never assume that the other driver is going to behave in any specific manner, and they are always prepared to take evasive action.


Gerry Cecil is the National Account Executive for the Special Account Services division of Universal Underwriters Group. For more information about how Universal Underwriters Group, Special Account Services can help your automotive recycling business needs call 800-840-8842, ext. 4845, visit www.uuic.com/specaccts/ara.asp or e-mail: uuic.specaccts@us.zurich.com.

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