One of the most accurate measurement devices for inflation is sitting right outside on your driveway – the family car.  The price of gasoline, the oil its derived from, cars and their parts, and, most importantly, rates for auto insurance are important components of the data that the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects to verify the Consumer Price Index, which is the benchmark for the rate of inflation in this country.

Insurance companies take inflation data and apply it to individual drivers’ age, driving record, previous coverage, type of vehicle they wish to insure, and even the area in which the driver resides to determine how much more they are going to pay for car insurance in the coming year.

The most important statistic drivers can personally affect towards the lowering of their insurance rates is their driving record.  Safer drivers have less accidents and cost insurance companies less in claims’ payouts and, thus, pay lower insurance premiums.  Here are some ways you can improve your driving safety record that can yield significant savings – if you’re careful.

  1. Slow Down

The biggest cause of auto accidents is excessive speed.  Traveling faster than the posted speed limits is the reason for approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities.  Speeding was an important contributing cause in 27 percent of all fatal crashes last year.

And sometimes even when you are driving at the speed limit, that velocity might be too fast for road conditions, such as during bad weather, or when a road is under repair, or in an area at night where a highway is not sufficiently illuminated.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s data illustrates, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that speeding is a primary causer of accidents and injuries.  Slow down and just try to interface with the pace of traffic.  You’ll get to your destination at about the same time as you would have by aggressively trying to beat the traffic with higher speeds.  Arriving that extra few minutes earlier is just not worth it.

  1. Adjust Your Route

We follow many of the same routes in our daily driving because our destinations, like going from home to work and back again, are predetermined.  But with a little research time spent with one of the popular navigation apps, such as Waze, or Inrix, or MapQuest, you can adjust your routing to not only help beat traffic, but also find a route that puts you and your car in less jeopardy, as well.

It stands to reason that if you are driving a car, trucks are a hazard on the road simply because of their size, lack of maneuverability and the increased distance they require for braking.  If you can find a route that minimizes encounter with large commercial vehicles, that route would tend to be safer.

Also, careful route adjustments can mean less overall traffic, which limits the environment for potential accidents.  The few minutes of thoughtful plotting before you begin your journey can be more than made up for by the time you’ll save overall with a less congested, and potentially safer, route.

  1. Focus on Driving

We may live in a multi-tasking society but safe driving is a singular task that requires all of your concentration.  A simple rule of thumb should be: don’t use your phone or any other electronic device while driving.  Even hands-free talking on the phone is distracting.  The best course of action when you get in your car is to turn your phone off, until you get to your destination.

  1. Drive Defensively

One of the best ways to avoid accidents is to be aware of what other drivers around you are doing, and expect the unexpected.  Take a quick peak and you’ll probably see people doing the craziest things, like applying make-up in the rear view mirror, or frantically texting on their phone.

If you see any of those kinds of peculiar activities, try to avoid those drivers.  It is not paranoid to assume that other motorists will do something crazy.  It’s smart.  And if a motorist is driving erratically, s/he could be drunk.  Try to get the license number, pull over to the side of the road and call 911 to report it.  You’re not ratting these drivers out; you’re probably saving their lives.

  1. Secure Your Cargo

One of the principle causes of injury in serious auto accidents comes from loose objects flying around in the interior of the car that can strike you during sudden deceleration.  Always try to secure any cargo that you are carrying, especially in the passenger compartment.  And if you often carry heavy objects in the trunk, invest in a cargo net to prevent them from suddenly shifting due to rapid deceleration.