"Educating people on how to drive safely goes hand in hand with providing the best possible auto insurance coverage," said Scott Carter, Unitrin Direct president. "By offering savings to policyholders in Georgia who agree to avoid common distractions, Unitrin Direct is encouraging safer driving while introducing another way to make auto insurance more affordable."
The pledge is a promise by policyholders not to do things that will take their attention off the road. At the top of the list is using a cell phone, which, in many studies, has been shown to significantly increase driver risk. One of the most notable, released in 2002 in Great Britain, concluded that using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle is as dangerous as driving legally drunk. That finding was backed up more recently in a 2006 study overseen by researcher Frank Drews, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Utah. After testing people on a driving simulator, Drews's group found that drivers using cell phones are 5.36 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers.
Unitrin Direct's pledge, which can be easily completed online at UnitrinDirect.com by going to Manage Policy and signing the pledge electronically using the E-signature feature, addresses these concerns by requesting that, if drivers must talk on the phone, they use hand-free devices and only initiate a call when the vehicle is stopped. (On request, Unitrin Direct will also mail customers a hard copy of the pledge.) Drivers also agree to obey all traffic laws and to not read text messages, e-mails, GPS devices or load or watch DVDs while driving.
"Unitrin Direct is proud to be taking an active role in educating people about the hazards associated with inattentive driving," said Andy Mason, Georgia product manager. "By following the common-sense guidelines in this pledge, our customers are helping make the roads safer."
Studies that have expanded on the topic of driver distractions show a strong correlation between a few seconds of diverted attention and the risk of an accident. One that was released in 2006 by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that driver inattention is responsible for up to 30 percent of crashes. Its report stated that even the simple act of reaching for an object such as a falling cup increases the risk of a crash or near crash by nine times. In a Mason-Dixon poll from 2003, a staggering 91 percent of those surveyed said they had engaged in risky behavior while driving, including talking on a cell phone, eating and even reading.
"It's a very real issue," Carter said. "As a leading auto insurance company that puts customers needs first, Unitrin Direct hopes its pledge will increase awareness of the great importance of staying focused while behind the wheel of a car."
A rapidly growing auto insurer that is popular with customers for its unique blend of friendly service and affordable car insurance, Unitrin Direct has a history of encouraging safe driving through rate breaks. Along with the focused driver pledge discount, Unitrin Direct also offers reductions for policyholders who drive vehicles with safety devices such as anti-lock brakes, air bags and passive seatbelts. Also, customers can qualify for a "Responsible Driver" discount if their safety record has been clean for the previous 12 to 36 months.*
Using a unique, direct business model, Unitrin Direct is able to streamline the insurance process to reduce overhead and pass savings along to consumers looking for affordable auto insurance. Customers who switch to Unitrin Direct from another carrier save an average of $303.** At UnitrinDirect.com, it's now quicker and easier than ever to get an online car insurance quote. Customers who prefer the phone can get an auto insurance quote by calling 1-800-642-5254.
About Unitrin Direct
Unitrin Direct is dedicated to providing its customers with outstanding service and quality coverage at competitive prices, making auto insurance simple by offering people the choices they want with the convenience they deserve. The Unitrin Direct insurance companies are subsidiaries of Unitrin, Inc. (NYSE:UTR) in Chicago and part of the Unitrin family of companies that has over six million policyholders. The Unitrin Direct companies offer affordable automobile insurance in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. To get a free auto insurance quote, visit http://www.unitrindirect.com/ or call (800) 642-5254.
* Discounts not available in all states.
** Average savings based on new customers who reported savings between March and June 2006.
Insurance underwritten by Unitrin Direct Property & Casualty Company and Unitrin Direct Insurance Company.
Source: Unitrin Direct