Twisted metal. Shattered glass. Blown tires. You might think I’m wandering through a junkyard, but that’s not the case. I’m talking about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Vehicle Research Center, which I had the opportunity to visit recently.
This state-of-the-art facility, nestled among the farms of central Virginia’s idyllic countryside, is visited by engineers and journalists from all over the world to observe crash tests and learn more about the vast world of auto safety.
“They sure don’t build them like they used to…”
I’ve heard my grandparents and my parents say this more times than I’d care to count. With cars, this statement is definitely true – because now they’re built way better. Just look at what happened to the 1959 Chevy Bel Air that was crashed into another car head-on at 40 mph. It’s a grisly sight; the whole occupant compartment collapsed around the crash dummy. A human driver would have been killed or, at the very least, would have sustained severe, life-altering injuries. In a modern vehicle, the passenger compartment would not have crumpled this way, and a driver’s injuries would have been far less severe.
The highlight of my visit was observing a live crash test. I witnessed a small-overlap crash test, which is supposed to simulate a car striking the corner of another car or a fixed object like a telephone pole. The engineering know-how needed to pull off this test is fascinating. The car gets hooked up to a hydraulic slingshot mechanism and, after four minutes of charging, the test commences. In just a few short seconds, everything ends with a BANG … literally. Yeah; that’s not going to buff out.
While the collision facility might be the main attraction, the Vehicle Research Center does much more than just crash cars. It also looks at the level of protection provided by child booster seats and regular passenger car seats, tests the overall strength of vehicle roofs, and has a separate outdoor track to test brakes and other new car safety technology.
And IIHS’ findings aren’t taken lightly – manufacturers continue to make improvements based on them, bringing even safer cars to you and me.
I’ll admit it; when I see Memorial Day coming up on the calendar, what immediately comes to mind is a long, sunny weekend with a cold beverage or two and maybe a swimming pool to cool off in. But each year I also make it a point to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday: recognizing those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
I believe it’s also important to honor those who serve in the military now, and I’m proud to work for a company like GEICO that honors current military members each year through the GEICO Military Service Awards (GMSAs). The GMSAs, held for the 27th year recently in Washington, D.C., paid tribute to members of each service branch who volunteer their time and energy to improve their local communities by promoting drug and alcohol abuse prevention, fire safety and fire prevention, or traffic safety and accident prevention.
GEICO will continue to support members of our armed forces and veterans later this month by teaming up with the USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia and the City of Virginia Beach for the second annual Warrior Week. The week-long event will give men and women throughout the country who have experienced the difficulties of military conflict the opportunity to challenge themselves through athletic events like cycling, surfing and many other activities.
So whatever fun plans you may have this Memorial Day, be sure to also take some time to remember those who served our country and support those who continue to do so today.
By now, you shouldn’t need to be reminded that your personal information is always at risk, by way of your smartphone, your computer, even your trash. As hard as you work to build up your credit, identity thieves are working even harder trying to steal your identity for monetary gain. Identity thieves will use any possible means to gain access to your personal information.
I have heard horror stories where thieves rummage through someone’s garbage or the trash of businesses to steal information. Identity thieves have a knack for contacting you by phone or email, pretending to work for legitimate companies in an attempt to get you to reveal important data. It could be as small as asking for your name and address just to build a profile on you.
Identity thieves will also hack into your personal computer and mobile devices as a way to steal your information. That’s right; your mobile device. Something as simple as setting your mobile device to pick up a Wi-Fi signal while you are sitting in a coffee shop can compromise all of your personal information. The open nature of public Wi-Fi allows anyone to snoop in on your device.
And once your personal information has been compromised, identity thieves can access your bank accounts and open credit cards using your name. If you have unexplained withdrawals from your bank account or unfamiliar charges on your credit card bill, or if you receive calls from debt collectors about bills that you aren’t familiar with, these are among the red flags that can mean someone has stolen your identity.
If your wallet, Social Security card, or other personal, financial or account information are lost or stolen, contact the credit reporting companies and place a fraud alert on your credit file. Check your bank statements and other financial account documents for unusual activity. Make sure you always secure your personal computer by keeping your security software up to date, and limit access to your wireless network with encryption and strong passwords.
And by all means, don’t click on any links or reply to emails or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information. Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels. And never, ever connect to a bank or other sensitive accounts over public Wi-Fi. In fact, pull out your smartphone right this minute and disable the Wi-Fi function, so it does not pick up a signal automatically.
Determined identity thieves are hard to stop, but if you follow these suggestions, you’ll improve your chances of keeping your personal information secure. And for extra security, here’s how GEICO can help protect your identity.
You have to be able to laugh at yourself, right? GEICO is everywhere: on TV, billboards, radio. You name it, we’ve tried it. This year’s GEICO video featuring and made by our very own associates pokes fun at just that.
Check out our “GEICO’s Everywhere” video and let us know in the comments what you think!
Interested in joining the IT team that made GEICO an insurance giant?
GEICO is a proven technology industry leader. Our IT organization is rapidly expanding and hiring more than 300 IT associates in 2015. We are seeking tech pros looking to take that next step in their career. Whether you are interested in data science, development, engineering or analysis we have an opportunity for you.
With more than 2,000 IT associates, located in the Washington, D.C. metro area, we are a top employer for tech pros. We are utilizing emerging technologies to enhance our customers’ online experiences and improve bottom-line results. “It is a very exciting time to begin a career in IT” said Chief Information Officer Greg Kalinsky.
Are you ready to build innovative solutions?
On Thursday, June 4, from 12 Noon to 4 PM, we will be hosting an IT Virtual Career Fair. You will be able to connect with our technical recruiting team to learn more about the opportunities we have to offer. Register for the event here!
You can also learn more about our IT organization by visiting TheMuse,geico.jobs/IT and by watching our video below!
‘Tis the season for cycles! As a rider, I find this time of year exciting and scary at the same time. Each motorcycle season brings out new riders who are eager to hit the road but ill-prepared to handle the challenges of operating a motorcycle safely. Unfortunately, many of the first-time riders that are involved in accidents are riding bikes that are not a good fit.
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. I always ask other riders if they have taken a safety course. I don’t care if you are Evel Knievel, you can’t have too much training when it comes to riding a motorcycle. A motorcycle safety course will help you hone your skills and sharpen your riding techniques and strategies.
My motorcycle group had an unwritten rule that we lived by. We would always let any new rider that didn’t think a safety course was important go ahead of us, and meet them at the next destination. We didn’t want to take the chance that a rookie rider in our group would do something that endangered the rest of us.
We had a similar unwritten rule for anyone who didn’t want to ride with a helmet or the proper gear. Believe me when I tell you that a helmet is a motorcycle rider’s best friend. It’s the most important piece of safety equipment a motorcyclist can have.
Helmets protect you against all types of potential risks when you are on the road and increase your chance of surviving a crash, so it was always common sense for me. Plus, it is the law in many states. I could never understand why anyone wouldn’t want something that not only protects your noggin from injury, but also cuts down on wind noise, shields your face and eyes, and keeps those not-too-tasty bugs out of your mouth.
Protective gear such as leather clothing, boots with nonskid soles and gloves can protect your body and help minimize your injuries in case of an accident or a skid. Consider attaching reflective tape to your clothing to make it easier for other drivers to see you.
Does your mom love GEICO’s advertising icons, GEICO commercials or the color green? You’re in luck! The GEICO Store has everything for the greatest GEICO fans just in time for Mother’s Day!
Check out my favorite items that are sure to put a deserving smile on your loving mother’s face:
Neon is in this spring! Does your mom drink coffee or tea every day? A neon GEICO mug will brighten her day and make her neighbors green with envy!
Is she a little clumsy? An easy-grip transparent acrylic tumbler with a bold-green lid will keep drinks from sloshing while she’s on the move.
Family game night her thing? Our collector’s edition GEICO Jenga® will entertain the whole family and keep everyone laughing.
For all those bookworm moms, the Gecko’s book, You’re Only Human, filled with life advice and other nuggets of wisdom will be the perfect poolside or travel companion.
Nothing’s cuter than a Maxwell the Pig plush toy; he’s always ready when your mom needs a hug.
If your mom loves the outdoors, a pair of GEICO neon green sunglasses will not only make her look as cool as a cucumber, but will also protect her loving eyes with full-spectrum UVA and UVB sun protection!
Want to keep your mom safe on the road? The GEICO Auto Rescue Kit has everything she needs including 8′ jumper cables, a flashlight, tire-pressure gauge, rain poncho, shop cloth, a reflective triangle, first aid kit and more!
Take a tour of the GEICO Store to see dozens of other gift ideas! Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome moms out there!
One of the biggest challenges I see with new riders is that they often buy too much bike. If you are in the market for a bike, please consider the size and performance of the bike when deciding which bike is best for you. There are so many different body types, engine sizes and performance features available. It can leave the most experienced motorcycle rider a bit overwhelmed.
The first thing you need to decide is what type of bike do you want? Will you be on the highway or off-road? Do you plan to take long-distance trips or stay on local streets? Your answers will help you decide the type of motorcycle that’s best for you.
Secondly, understand that engine size will be one of your biggest decisions when choosing any new bike. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing a powerful motorcycle that is way beyond your riding skill-set. Motorcycle engine sizes are measured in cubic centimeters or “cc” for short, ranging from 50 cc to more than 2,000 cc. Bigger engines produce more power and go much faster. Beginner riders should start with a smaller engine size. Once you’ve gained riding experience and confidence, you will know when the time is right to move to another bike that may offer more performance and power.
And lastly, a motorcycle’s weight and seat height are two other key factors that even experienced riders must consider. You should be able to sit on a motorcycle comfortably with both feet planted firmly on the ground. That stability gives you better control of the bike if it starts to lean over. Your bike should not be so heavy that you can’t keep it safely balanced. Before buying, you should sit on a variety of motorcycles to test your comfort level.
Fueled by lots of teenage energy and exuberance, award ceremonies took place in several Maryland and Virginia high schools last week when GEICO recognized students’ efforts to promote good decisions – on the road, on dates, at school and in the community.
Working with the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), GEICO provided $1,000 awards to five student groups to help them continue their work on drug/alcohol prevention efforts.
Winners of the 23rd annual GEICO Student Awards:
Academy of the Holy Cross, SADD Group, Kensington, Maryland
Eleanor Roosevelt High School, SADD Club, Greenbelt, Maryland
Gar-Field Senior High School, SADD Club, Woodbridge, Virginia
T.C. Williams High School, Above the Influence Club, Alexandria, Virginia
Unified Prevention Coalition Youth Council, Fairfax County, Virginia (will receive award June 8)
Student groups are judged on their leadership, effectiveness, innovation and involvement of both the student body and community in their efforts to prevent underage drinking.
Winning groups have implemented a variety of awareness initiatives including: signing pledges to refrain from alcohol and drug use during prom season; actively using social media to promote healthy lifestyles; organizing alcohol-free teen social events; and hosting re-enactments demonstrating the devastating effects of alcohol.
Each month, we share an image from GEICO’s past and invite you to comment or exercise your caption-writing skills.
Be still, my heart. I’ve been playing softball for at least 35 years now, so scenes like these really appeal to me. Back in the day – and I’m guessing that day was around 1970 – teams of GEICO associates would take on other local company teams in various sports, including softball. And GEICO still supports its associates’ endeavors in softball and other sports, at the corporate headquarters and at other locations.
These days, we have so many softball players at HQ that we have our own eight-team league, and if you go to the right park on a Monday evening, you’ll see many a GEICO-ite rounding third and heading for home, like the chap in the older photo here. But unlike in that picture, where all the players were men, you’ll also find women enjoying today’s coed league. In fact, that’s one of my teammates in the color photo, tagging out an opposing baserunner during the 2013 GEICO League playoff championship game.
We won the title that year.
And again last year.
Will we pull off the three-peat this year? Too soon to tell … but I like our chances!