Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


NAR's Realtor Safety Tips Forgot Safety Tip Number One!

Today, our local association sent out an email with, among other things, links to Real Estate's 6 Most Dangerous Everyday Situations, written by Melissa Dittmann Tracey.   Now, these were all very common sense things that we all know to do - or not to do.

But, Melissa forgot the big one!

She forgot the huge one!

So what is it?

It's the car, stupid!  And I'm not talking about a car with a new buyer sitting in it, which is covered by Tip No. 6: "Transporting strangers in your car".

My friends, it's not the strangers in our cars that are a threat to us.  We are - probably more of - a threat to them!

So many Realtors I know are terrible drivers.  It's not that they are inherently maniacal behind the wheel.  But they multi-task like crazy - talking on their cell phones (and forget the hands free stuff), check their messages on their Blackberries, wolf down the Big Mac for lunch, and forget looking where they are going!  Instead their eyes are on the new For Sale sign that sprouted up on the front yard of the listing they thought they were getting.


My problem with the article isn't that the advice is without merit.  It is important to use common sense at Opens and while showing houses.  But I think the focus is entirely misplaced.

I know many agents who have been involved in accidents caused by distracted drivers.  I know a few who I will not get into a car with when they are driving.   I don't know a single one, in over almost 30 years in the business, who has been put in any danger from a customer or client. 

So if you are really serious about keeping yourself safe on the job, you'll focus on the road while you are driving - not on your phone or your latest text message or your lunch.

Comment balloon 50 commentsPatricia Kennedy • August 30 2010 10:20PM


I agree I am one to admit this problem thinking I can handle it.  But as of two weeks ago I have been text free on the road. Hopefully my next car will have the new tech to handle those things.

Posted by Stanley Stepak, Realtor - Avon Lake, Avon, Bay Village, Westlake, (Howard Hanna - Avon Lake, OH) about 10 years ago

As I get older I realize that I do have time to pull over and make the call. I do have time to stop and eat. I probably get more down now-a-days that I did then when I rushed so much. Good advice, and a good addition to the list.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) about 10 years ago

Stan, I love you for this comment!  But the whole point, at least I think, is that unless the next generation of cars can steer themselves and keep themselves from bumping into other cars, we shouldn't be doing anything but driving. 

And Glenn, I do that, too.  And once, while I was legally parked making a call, a doctor, driving a big old Durango while yapping on his phone to a patient, rear ended my car.  I couldn't believe it!  Luckily, he had wonderful auto insurance.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 10 years ago

So right you are Pat.  Distractions abound and we need the self discipline to ignore the phone, the text, the signs, and concentrate on the road - for our own safety as well as the safety of our clients.

Posted by Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528, Real Estate Salesperson (Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956) about 10 years ago


You are right on target about the driving habits of real estate professionals.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) about 10 years ago

Whoa, Pat, how appropriate.  I used to have to "tour" properties every Tuesday, and we had "designated" drivers.  Sometimes I wanted to do a hail Mary (though not Catholic) and take out extra insurance, and that was BEFORE Blackberries and Droids and Palms, etc.   I can't read email or take calls now because of my new "enhanced" phone, (i.e., not a Blackberry, my trusted friend) and I guess I have learned to live with it.  And, everyone else can, too, trust me. 

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) about 10 years ago


The temptation to use the phone, while on the road, is a dangerous temptation.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 10 years ago

Hey!  Check out Stan's post, Inattentive Driving...

It's pretty sobering.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Hi Pat... I could not agree with you more strongly!  This is a post that every agent should read! 

Posted by Steve Shatsky about 10 years ago

And how about those quick on-the-fly u-turns in the middle of the road when you pass your turn! I am guilty having done that in the past, but do not use the phone anymore while driving clients around! Thanks for the car safety tip Pat!

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Red Rock Real Estate) about 10 years ago


When I am showing a bunch of homes, I use GPS even when I could navigate without it simply because when I talk to the client in the car, I do not have to think about the navigation part.

Alleviates the stress.

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) about 10 years ago

Great safety tip Pat!  Not illegal in the state of Indiana to drive and talk on cell phones, but it is in many states.  I would think most clients would be really upset with this multi-tasking, but especially those whose state has banned it!!

Posted by Pat Haddad, ABR, CRS, ePRO, GRI, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield IN Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Indianapolis Metro NE) about 10 years ago

We drive for a living and we have so much liability.  It is so important to be present to what is going on around you as today so many people are distracted.  I make it a point to stop and pull off if I take a phone call.  It is hard enough to just listen to your self talk (HA)

Posted by Mary Macy, Top Agents Atlanta Metro (Top Agents Atlanta Metro) about 10 years ago

There was a YouTube video sent all around England last year about distracted drivers, and it was a disgustingly graphic video.  It sure stopped me from multi tasking in the car ....  

Great post!

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Patricia: I'm really good at not putting any clients in danger while driving but I can't say the same about my personal safety while driving alone. Have to work on it.

Posted by Matt Grohe, Serving the metro since 2003 (RE/MAX Concepts) about 10 years ago

Pat- We had an older agent in my office years ago, that scared us half to death when he took us to lunch. I swear he lost a client or two, to his driving. And don't get me started on some of the folks who have drove on property tour.


Posted by Scott Hayes, Realty Austin, Broker Associate ((512) 786-8300) about 10 years ago

Excellent advice, Pat.  I once backed into the car behind me with a client in the car because I put the car into reverse instead of drive.  I was too much in a hurry to get to the next appointment.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) about 10 years ago

That's why REALTORS should never put a sign on their car!

Better the public never knows who was driving like that, until your obit' comes out.


Posted by William J. Archambault, Jr. (The Real Estate Investment Institute ) about 10 years ago

So I have to pull the binding machine off the passenger seat? Darn it, better schedule my time better.

But joking aside, we're not cardiac surgeons and no one will die if their call or email isn't returned in 5 minutes or less.   

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, I help brokers build businesses they love. (Swanepoel T3 Group) about 10 years ago

Pat, A plus for us working as a team, one can navigate, answer the phone, etc. while the other drives.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 about 10 years ago

Guilty...though I've not been in an accident I came close trying to jot down the address and phone number of a FSBO!  I go around the block now.

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) about 10 years ago

Distracted driving is a huge issue for Realtors! GPS systems have many of used to be trying to read a map and drive?

Posted by Holly Weatherwax, A Great Real Estate Experience ( Associate Broker, Momentum Realty) about 10 years ago

Pat, it's as if you wrote this with me in mind. Guilty, guilty, guilty, BUT I don't text, it's hard enough for me to see the keys without my glasses on. I promise to behave better in the future, thanks for the reminder.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 10 years ago

Pat, I agree that should be part of the Realtor's continuing education or for a new agent part of the licensee requirement. Suggest to be featured as a reminder to all the Realtors in the world wide web!

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) about 10 years ago

Maybe we should have signs on our cars. You know! To warn innocent members of the public so they can keep out of the way!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Pat, I'm with you especially the talking or texting on the phone. It's plain dangerous. I also have people in the office that I will not ride in the car with. We used to have one agent that drove a very nice Jaguar with bald tires!  So bald, I'm not sure how she stopped the car in winter.  Duhhh, but she drove a Jag ya know.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) about 10 years ago

Pat, I like your remark..Sign on car "Realtor on Board"

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) about 10 years ago


Georgia just enacted a new distracted driver law on July 1. I know that it makes me pay a little more attention when I'm on the road.

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) about 10 years ago

We all have to be paying full attention, because not all the other drivers are -- once saw a young lady driving down the street at about 35 mph while using both hands to text. 

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 10 years ago

I think that the entire article is just silly.  They are attempting to perpuate the myth that around every corner is a rapist just waiting for a woman to show up.  Sadly, many women are paralyzed into failing to have any joy in life because they are waiting to be attacked. 

Common sense is easy. 

Driving folks around on the other hand is genuinly risky and is the reason I have high auto coverage. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Pat -- I think the signs should be inside our cars. To remind ourselves since it's so hard not to be tempted. (And you make me feel so guilty.  But I'm honored you're still not afraid to get in my car--I'll try and prove more worthy of that in the future!)

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) about 10 years ago

great post

i live in Los Angeles where it's a common occurence to see people swerving in and out of lanes whilst (great word isn't it... whilst?) texting or putting on makeup or reading the newspaper...

it's always fun to go past someone driving crazy and see them with a phone in their ear held with one hand trying to hide their actions

fun if i do get past them


Posted by Vince McEveety (Gilleran Griffin Realty) about 10 years ago

I totally agree with your basic premise about driving with all of these distractions. I wrote a blog about people in general driving while texting or talking on cell phones in school zones but I got no comments. It is not just a real estate agent problem but a braoder problem we all nered to think about before some incent folks are killed!!!

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) about 10 years ago

I think it's a universal problem, rather than a Realtor specific issue. Using the cell phone is a major distraction to everyone behind the wheels.


Jane Pacheco

Posted by Jane Pacheco (Pacheco Realty & Financial Services) about 10 years ago

While riding a motorcycle still has not been made practical for touring clients around to homes, it can eliminate a few other distractions that drivers are permitted to indulge in...radios, talking on the phone, talking to passengers, texting, eating, etc. I am still a bit shocked when motorcycle riders actually try to incorporate these technologies into their two-wheeled transportation.

Posted by Tony Cannon, Real Estate - Oceanside Carlsbad (Bressi Realty Carlsbad) about 10 years ago

Pat - I completely agree with you, we are definitely the biggest threats.  I can't text sitting still let alone trying to do it while driving, but I know plenty of people do.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) about 10 years ago

Lenn, I'ver read so many posts on Active Rain by bloggers who are afraid of their prospects. 

Now, I could get hit over the head by some would be buyer visiting an Open House, but as an old friend of mine once said, "If your born to hand, you won't drown."

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 10 years ago


Scary but true.  I have been very diligent with using my blue tooth in the car and I try so very hard not to look at my blackberry when I am at a light. It's hard but I think that we as agents think that we can multi task - which we can - but we should not be doing anything else while we are driving!!!

Posted by Noah Levy, Coldwell Banker Highland Park IL (Coldwell Banker) about 10 years ago


The current signs haven't seem to improve any one's driving.

Ritu's "Realtor on Board"would scare me! How would you like to have a paramedic see that and let you wait until after his coffee break? God forbid getting a paramedic that has had anything to do with a short sale! The insurance could be settled before you're removed from the car.




Posted by William J. Archambault, Jr. (The Real Estate Investment Institute ) about 10 years ago

Pat, have you ever driven in Massachusetts? It's not as bad as Maryland (sorry, but we lived there and were relieved to get back to the crazy Massachusetts drivers), but it still requires nerves of steel sometimes. I had a client from another state make a comment about my driving when I was showing her houses. It sounded like she was scared! That really made me think. After all, I certainly want a client to feel comfortable, SAFE, and at ease with me. It's hard to pay attention to where you're going, talk to the client, point out sites and houses, watch the road, etc. Never mind electronic devices, I know I won't add that to the mix. The next time I took her out, I made sure not to go even a bit over the speed limit. Kept my eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and slowed down. I think it made a big difference for her in terms of being able to relax.

Posted by Nina Rogoff, Sells Real Estate! (RE/MAX Executive Realty) about 10 years ago

Pat I agree, being distracted behind the wheel is a trap many agents fall into.  Agents need to keep in mind by being distracted they not only endanger their life but that of others

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) about 10 years ago


How true; I know real estate agents that never look at the road.

Posted by Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459, Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD! (Coldwell Banker) about 10 years ago

I especially do not use the phone when driving clients around.  I don't need a lawsuit or accident on my record.  Safety is key!

Posted by Heidi Hovatter, Heidi The Home Hunter (Century 21 Wildwood) about 10 years ago

You are hilarious. OH and yeah, I just call them the realtor rules of the road. U-turns, the whole works.  Don't text and only use a Bluetooth when Driving now, but yep you are totally right!!

Posted by Lesley Wagstaff, For Real Estate and Mortgages (Re/Max Results Realty in Vancouver, BC) about 10 years ago

Good post!  I am trying to do Oprah's challenge and keep the cell phone down and the learning tapes turned up!

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge about 10 years ago

This is so true.  Multi-taking really doesn't belong on the road.

Posted by Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh, A doctor who makes house calls. (Century 21 New Millennium) about 10 years ago

Heidi, good point!  a bunch of years ago (way before cell phones) a colleague caused an accident with clients in the car.  The wife was pregnant, and had had a really difficult time getting pregnant.  She and the baby were fine, but the poor agent was pretty speechless for the next several months.   I can only imagine that happening today as the result of a phone call.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Pat - This is a valid point.  Distracted driving is problematic though I also think there are other real concerns for us as well regarding safety.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 10 years ago

We recently became a hand's free state so I went out and got the bluetooth and tried to be all legal.  The truth is, I hate the blue tooth and trying to use it was more distracting than just making a call ever was!  Since I really can't afford the $124 ticket, I just made a decision to go phone free in my car.  I keep it plugged in to the charger and I can see the screen well enough to tell who's calling.  If it's "important", I'll pull over and call them back but no more talking, texting or email checking in the car.


Posted by Gayla Worrell, Real Estate Webworks (Windermere Real Estate/Everett, Inc.) about 10 years ago

This is right on the mark! I know several agents that send text messages while driving in traffic!!!! It scares the hell out of me just to see it!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) about 10 years ago