Distracted Driving [Must-Know Facts + Statistics]
Distracted driving is defined as driving while performing another activity that diverts your attention from the road. There are three primary types of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 3,166 drivers and 599 non-vehicle occupants lost their lives due to distracted driving. Learn about the best and worst states for distracted driving below.
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|Fatal Crashes Impacted By Distracted Driving (2017)||Crashes||Drivers||Fatalities|
|Number of Distracted Driving Fatal Crashes||2,935||2,994||3,166|
|Percentage of Total Fatal Crashes in 2017||9%||6%||9%|
|Number of Distracted Driving Fatal Crashes Involving Cell Phone Usage||401||404||434|
|Percentage of Distracted Driving Fatal Crashes Involving Cell Phone Usage||14%||13%||14%|
|Total Fatal Crashes||34,247||52,274||37,133|
In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 3,166 drivers and 599 non-vehicle occupants (i.e. bicyclists, pedestrians) lost their lives due to distracted driving in that year alone.
The NHTSA’s study also revealed that of the people who died in crashes involving distracted driving that year, 297 were teen drivers between the ages of 15 and 19, comprising the largest proportion of motorists who were distracted when the fatal crashes occurred.
While cell phones are the most obvious distraction that comes to mind, the reality is, that distracted driving can stem from a variety of causes — with sometimes fatal consequences.
Depending on the state you live in, certain forms of distracted driving, like the use of hand-held devices while behind the wheel, are prohibited by law, incurring strict penalties. And that’s not even to mention the impact a distracted driving violation could have on your auto insurance premiums.
In the following article, we’re going to take a deep dive into exactly what car insurance consumers need to know about distracted driving, including the different types and forms of distracted driving, important statistics, distracted driving laws by state, the effect a distracted driving violation could have on your insurance costs, and more.
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Without further ado, let’s get down to business.
What Car Insurance Consumers Need to Know About Distracted Driving
So, you might be thinking, what exactly is distracted driving? You probably already know that using your mobile device behind the wheel could be a major distraction, but that’s just one instance of many.
Let’s take a closer look at what distracted driving is in practice, including the various types, and activities that commonly distract drivers, thereby increasing roadway dangers.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Simply put, distracted driving is driving while performing another activity that diverts your attention from the task of driving.
According to data released by the NHTSA, reading or sending a text diverts your eyes from the road for approximately five seconds. Assuming you’re driving 55 mph, that essentially is like driving the entire length of a football field — with your eyes shut.
Whether it the activity involves talking, texting on your cell phone, drinking, eating, adjusting your stereo system, or messing with your vehicle’s navigation system — if it draws your attention away from the road, it’s a form of distracted driving.
If you tend to stay nervous or anxious because of an underlying reason, that can also distract you while driving and you should try different ways to stay calm behind the wheels.
Types of Distracted Driving
There are three primary types of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA-FTS) conducted a study in 2013 entitled Cognitive Distraction: Something to Think About, citing the following:
Experts generally agree that driver distraction stems from three sources: visual (eyes off the road), manual (hands off the wheel), and cognitive (mind off the task). Of these, cognitive distraction is the most difficult to observe and measure. While there is evidence of public and policymaker understanding of the risks involved with visual and manual distractions (especially texting while driving), there appears to be less appreciation for the risks involved with cognitive (or mental) distractions.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these forms of distracted driving. Remember:
- Visual distracted driving is when someone takes their eyes off the road.
- Manual distracted driving is when someone takes their hands away from the wheel.
- Cognitive distracted driving is when someone’s mind wanders from the task of driving.
Whereas visual distractions divert the motorist’s eyes from the road ahead, cognitive driver distractions are mental distractions that divert the motorist’s mind from safe driving. Something as seemingly simple as worrying about an upcoming job interview or thinking about a recent argument could comprise cognitive distracted driving.
AAA-FTS’s study further noted that certain cognitive distractions pose more danger than others. For example, listening to an audiobook or the radio isn’t nearly as distracting as speaking with a passenger or talking to someone on the phone, be it a hand-held or hands-free device. Certain advances in modern vehicle technology such as speech-to-text systems that allow drivers to send and receive messages could also prove to be highly cognitively distracting.
In the case of manual distracted driving, these are the distractions that take the motorist’s hands off of the steering wheel. For instance, if you’re holding a beverage or food while you drive, that would constitute a manual distraction.
Activities that Distract Drivers
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 26 percent of all car crashes involve cell phone usage.
From applying makeup behind the wheel to simply taking your eyes off the road because you’re lost or see an accident on the other side of the highway, it only takes a few seconds of distraction to cause a potentially catastrophic crash.
Did you know that there is an actual scientific explanation behind the activities that frequently cause distracted driving? Here’s the lowdown —
- One of the reasons it’s so difficult to put down your electronic device while driving is because smartphones naturally stimulate addictive qualities.
- The human brain responds to phone alerts, which make sit more difficult to hold off on checking your phone will driving.
- Getting a text, email, or social media post on your mobile device heightens the supply of dopamine to the brain, a chemical that among other things, would cause a compulsion to check your phone.
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Must-Know Distracted Driving Statistics
A recent study released by the Insurance Information Institute (III) revealed that there were 2,935 fatal crashes involving distracted driving in 2017 alone, comprising a staggering nine percent of all fatal crashes in the country that year.
To understand the full extent of the impact distracted driving can have on motorists of all ages, we’re going to take a close look at some jaw-dropping statistics.
These include distracted driving fatalities by factors such as demographics and the person type, plus distracted driving crashes that did not result in fatalities, but still caused measurable losses.
Let’s dig deeper —
Distracted Driving Fatalities
Be warned – the video above is a sobering look at the tragic impact that a few moments of distracted driving can reap, putting a face to the consequences of this pandemic.
Next, take a look at the table below, revealing data from the NHTSA’s most recent 2017 study regarding fatalities stemming from distracted driving crashes between 2013 and 2017.
|Year||Total Crashes||Distracted Driving Crashes||Percentage of Total Crashes||Distracted Driving Crashes Involving Cell Phone Use||Percentage of Distracted Driving Crashes Involving Cell Phone Use|
As you can see, the percentage of fatal crashes impacted by distracted driving barely changed at all during the years listed, with accidents involving cell phone usage comprising 13 to 14 percent of all distracted driving collisions during the four-year period studied.
Distracted Driving Fatalities by Demographic
The table below illustrates the most recent data collected by our research team from the NHTSA’s 2017 distracted driving study, indicating the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes by age demographic, distraction, and cell phone usage.
|Driver Age Group||Number of Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes||Percentage of Total Drivers||Number of Distracted Drivers||Percentage of Total Drivers in this Age Group||Percentage of All Distracted Drivers||Number of Drivers Using Cell Phones||Percentage of Distracted Drivers||Percentage of Drivers Using Cell Phones|
|15 to 19||3,255||6%||271||8%||9%||63||23%||16%|
|20 to 29||12,086||23%||816||7%||27%||151||19%||37%|
|30 to 39||9,290||18%||557||6%||19%||86||15%||21%|
|40 to 49||7,944||15%||431||5%||14%||48||11%||12%|
|50 to 59||8,029||15%||360||4%||12%||33||9%||8%|
|60 to 69||5,562||11%||224||4%||7%||19||8%||5%|
|70 and up||4,911||9%||292||6%||10%||4||1%||1%|
Now, let’s break down the data a bit. This table compares the percentage of motorists in each age group involved in fatal collisions to the percentage of motorists involved in distracted driving fatal crashes.
The numbers clearly point to one thing — drivers under the age of 30 have among the highest incidence of fatal crashes of all the age demographics examined, as evidenced in the data shown in the Percentage of Total Drivers and Percentage of All Distracted Drivers columns.
For all fatal collisions in 2017, six percent of the motorists involved were between the ages of 15 and 19, comprising 3,255 out of the total 52,274 driver fatalities. Furthermore, nine percent of distracted drivers were also between 15 and 19 years of age, making up 271 out of the 2,994 total distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes that year.
Roughly 16 percent of the distracted drivers who were using cell phones were also between the ages of 15 and 19. This means that of the 404 distracted driving fatal crashes involving cell phone usage — 63 of those fatalities were teen motorists.
Drivers in their 20s aren’t too far behind, as this age demographic comprised 23 percent of motorists in fatal crashes that year. However, 20-something drivers made up 27 percent of distracted drivers and a staggering 37 percent of the distracted motorists using their cell phones when fatal accidents occurred.
Considering the remarkable incidence of distracted driving fatalities in teen motorists, in particular, let’s take a look at some other eye-opening stats revealed in the NHTSA’s 2017 Teen Distracted Driver study.
- Seven percent of the individuals who died in 2017 distracted driving crashes were teens aged 15 to 19 years old.
- Nine percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal collisions in 2017 were teens aged 15 to 19 years old.
- Nine percent of all 2017 teen vehicle crash fatalities involved distracted driving.
- Eight percent of individuals killed in accidents involving a teen between 15 and 19 in 2017 died when teen motorists were distracted.
- Eight percent of teen drivers were involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2017 were distracted when the crash happened.
- 52 percent of individuals killed in teen distracted driving crashes in 2017 were teens between 15 and 19.
Distracted Driving Fatalities by Person Type
|Person Type||Crash Fatalities||Distracted Driving Crash Fatalities||Percentage of Distracted Driving Crash Fatalities|
The table above contains additional data from the NHTSA’s 2017 distracted driving study, indicating distracted driving fatalities by vehicle occupants and nonoccupants.
Distracted Driving Crashes Resulting in Injuries or Property Damage
Check out the table below, revealing the latest data from the National Safety Council regarding motor vehicle crashes and distracted driving accidents resulting in injuries or property-damage only between 2011 and 2016.
|Year||Distracted Driving Injury Crashes Involving Cell Phone Usage||Other Distracted Driving Injury Crashes||Distracted Driving Property Damage-Only Crashes Involving Cell Phone Usage||Other Distracted Driving Property Damage-Only Crashes|
You’ll notice that injury crashes involving cell phone usage between 2011 and 2013 increased steadily, before decreasing in 2014 and 2015 and going up again in 2016.
The Best and Worst States for Distracted Driving
The distracted driving laws across the country vary by state, but 20 states including The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam all bar drivers from utilizing handheld devices behind the wheel.
Each of these states are primary enforcement, which means that a law enforcement officer could pull someone over for using a hand-held device without any other type of traffic offense needing to occur to validate the stop.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), no state currently bans cell phone usage for all motorists, but 39 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have established a ban on cell phone use by novice motorists.
In addition, 20 states and the District of Columbia also have a cell phone ban in place for school bus drivers.
Washington was the very first state to establish a texting ban back in 2007. Now, 48 of the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virginia islands ban all drivers from texting messaging, with all but three having primary enforcement in place.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the laws and penalties drivers could face when they engage in distracted driving.
– Distracted Driving Laws and Penalties
|States||Hand-held ban||All cell phone ban||Texting ban||Enforcement|
|Alabama||No||Drivers age 16 and 17 who have held an intermediate license for less than 6 months.||All drivers||Primary|
|Arizona||Yes (Drivers will receive a warning for violation until 1/1/21. Eff. 1/1/21, drivers will receive a civil penalty for violation).||School bus drivers; Learner's permit and provisional license holders during the first six months after licensing.||All drivers||Primary: cell phone use by school bus drivers
Secondary: cell phone use by young drivers
|Arkansas||Drivers ages 18 to 20 years of age; school and highway work zones||School bus drivers, drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary: for texting by all drivers and cell phone use by school bus drivers.
Secondary: for cell phone use by young drivers, drivers in school and work zones
|California||All drivers||School and transit bus drivers and drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary: hand held and texting by all drivers.
Secondary: all cell phone use by young drivers.
|Colorado||No||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Connecticut||All drivers||Learner's permit holders, drivers younger than 18, and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|Delaware||All drivers||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|District of Columbia||All drivers||School bus drivers and learner's permit holders||All drivers||Primary|
|Georgia||All drivers||School bus drivers. Drivers younger than 18.||All drivers||Primary|
|Hawaii||All Drivers||Drivers younger than 18||All Drivers||Primary|
|Illinois||All Drivers||Learner's permit holders younger than 19, drivers younger than 19, and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|Indiana||No||Drivers under the age of 21.||All drivers||Primary|
|Iowa||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary: for all offenses|
|Kansas||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary|
|Kentucky||No||Drivers younger than 18, School Bus Drivers.||All drivers||Primary|
|Louisiana||No||School bus drivers, learner's permit and intermediate license holders, drivers under age 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Maine||All drivers (eff. 9/19/19) Maine previously had a law that makes driving while distracted a traffic infraction.||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary|
|Maryland||All drivers, School Bus Drivers.||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders under 18. School bus drivers.||All drivers||Primary|
|Massachusetts||Local option||School bus drivers,|
passenger bus drivers, drivers younger than 18.
|Michigan||Local option||Level 1 or 2 license holders.||All drivers||Primary|
|Minnesota||Yes (Eff. 8/1/19)||School bus drivers, learner's permit holders, and provisional license holders during the first 12 months after licensing||All drivers||Primary|
|Mississippi||No||School bus drivers.||All drivers||Primary|
|Missouri||No||No||Drivers 21 years or younger.||Primary|
|Nebraska||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders younger than 18||All drivers||Secondary|
|Nevada||All drivers||No||All drivers||Primary|
|New Hampshire||All drivers||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|New Jersey||All drivers||School bus drivers, and learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary|
|New Mexico||Local option||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders.||All Drivers||Primary|
|New York||All drivers||No||All drivers||Primary|
|North Carolina||No||Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|North Dakota||No||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Ohio||Local option||Drivers younger than 18.||All drivers||Primary: for drivers younger than 18.
Secondary: for texting by all drivers.
|Oklahoma||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders, school bus drivers and public transit drivers||School Bus Drivers and Public Transit Drivers||All Drivers.||Primary|
|Oregon||All drivers||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Pennsylvania||Local option||No||All drivers||Primary|
|Puerto Rico||All drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|Rhode Island||All drivers||School bus drivers and drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|South Carolina||No||No||All drivers||Primary|
|South Dakota||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Secondary|
|Tennessee||Yes||School bus drivers, and learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary|
|Texas||Drivers in school crossing zones||Bus drivers. Drivers younger than 18||All drivers (effective 09/01/2017)||Primary|
|Utah||Speaking on a cell phone, without a hands-free device, is only an offense if a driver is also committing some other moving violation (apart from speeding).||Drivers under|
the age of 18.
|All drivers||Primary for texting; secondary for talking on hand-held phone|
|Vermont||All drivers||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Virgin Islands||All drivers|
|Virginia||No||Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary: for texting by all drivers.
Secondary: for drivers younger than 18.
|Washington||All drivers||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders.||All drivers||Primary|
|West Virginia||All Drivers||Drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learner's permit or an intermediate license||All drivers||Primary|
|Wisconsin||No||Learner's permit or|
|Total||All drivers: 15 states and District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.||School Bus drivers: 21 states and District of Columbia.|
Teen drivers: 38 states and District of Columbia.
|All Drivers: 47 states and District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.||Primary for all drivers texting: 43 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Secondary for all drivers texting: 4.
The table above contains the most current data published by GHSA regarding the hand-held device distracted driving laws across the country, including whether each state follows primary enforcement or secondary.
While primary enforcement allows a law enforcement officer to pull someone over and issue a citation without another traffic offense occurring, secondary enforcement requires that the officer issue a ticket or pull over the individual only if there is another citable traffic infraction at play.
If you’re wondering just how much you might have to pay if you get pulled over for texting or using a handheld device while driving, the short answer is — it all depends. Let’s take a look at some of the states that assess some of the steepest fines for distracted driving:
- Hawaii fines motorists up to nearly $300 for texting while driving — and that number is just for first-time offenders
- In the state of Alaska, texting while driving is classified as a misdemeanor, which means that motorists face fines as high as $1,000 and in certain instances, up to one year’s imprisonment
- If someone causes an accident in Iowa, fines could be levied on other motorists as high as $1,000
- Indiana fines for texting while driving can range upwards of $500
- In the state of Utah, violators could be hit with fines as high as $750, and in specific instances, face jail time, based on the kind of offense involved
- New Jersey motorists could incur penalties up to $400 for texting while driving
In the vast majority of states, the fines for texting while driving tickets can be as low as $50 up to $200. But as you can see, depending on the state you live in, you could be paying much, much more.
Take Oregon, for example.
The fine for first-time texting while driving violation? Up to $1,000. A second offense? You could be looking a up to $2,500 in fines.
Then, you have a state like Wisconsin, where texting while driving tickets could be as low as $20. Depending on the state you live in though, you could face more than fines — you may have points added to your driver’s license record as well.
Education and Programs
With the onslaught of distracted driving only further propelled by the ever digital world we live in, new waves of technology and programs are emerging to help combat dangerous driving habits like texting while driving to promote safer conditions for motorists everywhere.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the options automotive manufacturers are starting to incorporate into vehicle designs to promote roadway safety and increased cognizance.
Features and Applications
- Voice controls and hands-free connectivity — Most automakers now provide Bluetooth connectivity integration that allows drivers to talk and manage their media devices without the need to use their hands. Sometimes, these systems feature voice-activated controls so you can use voice commands to activate components of your vehicle system such as your audio system, climate control, and navigation system — all without taking your eyes off the road!
- Lane departure warnings — If you zone out and start to go over the road marker without turning on your signal, a lane-departure alert would notify you at once, either with a physical alert or a warning tone. Some of the more advanced lane departure warning technologies impact steering or lightly apply the brakes to help guide the driver back into the correct lane.
- Crash avoidance systems — These systems feature autonomous braking technology that tracks the area ahead of your car to let you know if there is a road danger ahead, such as a pedestrian, stopped vehicle, or animal. The crash avoidance system would then automatically force your car to brake to help you avoid any possibility of a wreck.
- Drowsy driver detection — A growing number of auto manufacturers are also providing consumers with monitoring systems to let them know if they’re falling asleep or tired. Both sensory and audible alerts like a light tap on the brakes, a chime, or a shoulder belt tug are all possible alerts that could be used to notify the driver that it’s time to pull over and regroup.
What about apps? Well, there are numerous devices and mobile applications utilizing cell phone blocking technology you can leverage to enhance your family’s safety on the roadways. Some of the top apps that have been designed to help prevent distracted driving include:
- Canary — This free app equips parents with all the information they need to help keep their kids safe on the road.Whenever their child tweets, texts, or takes a call while behind the wheel, Canary sends a text notification to the parent. The app also sends notifications if the teen driver goes over a certain speed or outside a certain perimeter so you know that your child is safe.
- TextArrest — This app lets parents control how their teen uses their phone while in a moving car. You can also set the app up to let you know if your teenager overrides the settings and travels beyond a certain location or over the speed limit. The app can also be used to notify parents in the event of an emergency.
- TextLimit — TextLimit inhibits certain features on a mobile device from working when the phone is traveling over a specific speed. After the phone returns to the predetermined speed, the app restores the lost features to function as normal.
- CellControl — This program is a unique option that disables the driver’s phone only, but allows passengers to continue to use their mobile devices freely. With CellControl, it’s possible to impede certain predetermined behaviors such as playing games, taking selfies, texting, and using social media when behind the wheel. The app can also be used to keep an eye on cell phone usage to determine that the teen is acting responsibly.
- DriveSafe.ly — The app reads incoming emails and text messages as they come in, even shorthand. With this app, you can still receive all your important information in real-time, without having to worry about looking down at your phone and diverting your eyes from the road.
- DriveScribe — This app actually blocks incoming texts and calls when the vehicle is moving over a particular speed. It also notifies motorists when they are driving too fast.
- Live2Txt —The Live2Txt app turns calls and texts that are incoming off on command, besides allowing you to send a message to whoever is sending the call or text that you are driving and are currently unavailable.
- AT&T DriveMode — This app is free and activates once your car reaches speeds of 15 mph. The app not only blocks tempting text alerts but can send automatic replies to texts for you. Parents also have the option to program the app to send them an alert when it’s switched off.
- Samsung — Samsung’s app called In-Traffic Reply lets you set up automatic replies to text messages or calls. The app also senses when a vehicle is in motion by using the device’s GPS system.
- Verizon Driving Mode — You can activate this feature from the Android messaging app to send automatic messages and block texts.
- Sprint Drive First — Reserved exclusively for Sprint customers, the Andoird app silences text and email alert and reroutes calls to voicemail as soon as your car reaches speeds of 10 mph. There are 911 and exit buttons on the device’s home screen so you can override the app in case of an emergency.
Usage-Based Insurance for Safer Driving
Usage-based insurance options promote safer driving by incentivizing motorists with discounts on coverage, which could incidentally reduce the risk of distracted driving.
While only driving data is generally collected with telematics information from consumer smartphones, the activities often tracked while the insured is behind the wheel include device handling, screen walking and sleeping, calls, and other device uses.
Insurers use the resulting smartphone data in congruence with vehicle driving and other elements to score the individual’s distraction levels, thereby providing a risk assessment for the driver’s usage-based insurance scoring. Carriers can also use the data in feedback programs to consumers for the purposes of encouraging safe driving behavior and discouraging distracted driving.
Check out the table below, listing the potential savings consumers could enjoy if they opt for usage-based insurance from some of the top providers in the U.S. insurance market.
|Insurance Company||Program||Device||Enrollment Discount (Up to)||Earned Savings (Up to)|
|Liberty Mutual/SafeCo||RightTrack||Mobile App or Plug-in||5% and up||30%|
|Progressive||Snapshot||Mobile App or Plug-in||Average of $25||20%|
|Mile Auto||Mile Auto||Neither||-||40%|
|State Farm||Drive Safe & Save||Mobile App or Plug-in||5%||50%|
Distracted Driving and Auto Insurance Penalties
Driving distracted is no joke, and depending on your insurance company, you could see a noticeable jump in rates if you’re slapped with a ticket for texting while driving.
Sounds like something you need to know about, right?
Keep scrolling to find out why your rates would increase with a ticket for texting and driving and just how high they could go up.
Will My Rates Increase If I Get a Ticket for Texting While Driving?
You already know now that the legal penalties for texting while driving can vary widely depending on the state you live in. The same rings true in terms of any car insurance penalty — your rates may go up, but not always.
In fact, a number of states actually ban insurers from factoring texting tickets into the mix when assessing consumer premiums. These states include Idaho, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Washington.
In addition, a number of states don’t assign any penalty points to individuals that receive texting tickets. Typically, the more serious the nature of the violation is, the more points will be assigned. Of course, if you are assigned too many points, you could face license suspension.
So, violations that aren’t accompanied by points are far less likely to have as significant an impact on how much you have to fork over in car insurance premiums. States that currently don’t designate points after a texting while driving violation include:
- Rhode Island
However, if you do live in a state where texting while driving ticket is classified as a moving violation and allocates points to your record, you could see a noticeable increase when your insurance policy is up for renewal. Plus, if you’ve had past moving violations in addition to a texting violation, that could compound the situation further.
Depending on where you live, points generally remain on your driving record for anywhere from one to three years, and once they drop off, your insurance should go down accordingly. In certain cases, the violation won’t go onto your driving record if you opt to undergo a state-approved driver safety course.
Why Would Insurance Companies Care?
Insurance companies can only remain profitable, financially stable, and successful in the long run if they maintain a healthy, low loss ratio.
An insurer’s loss ratio is what the company is paying out in claims vs. what it’s earning back in written premiums. Insurance companies don’t just have an obligation to consumers but to shareholders and owners as well.
The costs associated with paying for injuries and other damages stemming from a collision are steep. To a carrier, a distracted driving violation is an indicator that the consumer poses a higher risk to insure, and therefore it’s only natural that the individual should expect to pay higher premiums as a result.
Behavior that poses risk, such as using your mobile device while driving, tells an insurer that they might have to pay out a significant claim in the future in the event you cause a collision. To mitigate any projected losses and maintain its financial security, the insurer would then charge higher annual premiums for coverage.
How High Will Rates Go Up?
How high your rates could go up after receiving a ticket for texting while driving depends on numerous factors, not the least of which is the specific insurer.
Factors such as your previous history of violations, if any, including accidents and speeding tickets would also be likely factored into the mix.
Companies With the Highest and Lowest Penalties for Distracted Driving
The table below provides an example of the potential increase you could see in your annual insurance premiums after receiving a citation for texting while driving. The states included below are California and Florida with rates from GEICO and Farmers featured.
And considering that Florida has previously ranked as the second-worst state for distracted driving, pay close attention to how much these top insurers in the U.S. market could adjust your rates based on one violation.
|State||Accident/Violation||Geico Monthly||Geico 6-Month||Geico Annual||Rate Increase||Farmers|
You’ll notice, that in the state of California, for example, if you have coverage through Farmers, you could see an annual increase in premiums of roughly $2,000 a year after getting a ticket for texting while driving. Hardly small change!
The lesson to be learned here is that driving safely and eliminating distractions doesn’t only help protect you, your passengers, and your fellow drivers whenever you hit rubber to the road. It could mean the difference in thousands of dollars worth of additional premium costs per year.
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What to Do After a Distracted Driving Accident
In the event you witness or are the victim of someone else’s distracted driving, you might be wondering — what comes next?
Keep reading and you’ll find out.
Should I Report Distracted Driving When I See It?
If you see the warning signs that a driver on the road with you is driving distracted, here are a few important steps to take to help you avoid a collision.
- Assume that that person doesn’t see your car at all
- Try to pull ahead of the other individual, or slow your vehicle and let them proceed ahead
- Afford the distracted driver more wiggle room and a wider berth than perhaps you otherwise wood
- If you are unable to get away from the distracted driver, call 911 to alert them of your concern
What Do I Do If I’m Involved in an Accident with a Distracted Driver But the Police Don’t Witness It?
While causes of collisions such as drunk driving can easily be traced with a sobriety test if the responding officer even slightly suspects that one of the parties involved is drunk, the same doesn’t hold true for distracted driving matters.
While distracted driving is one of the chief causes of car accident fatalities and personal injury, even if there is a reason to suspect that an accident stemmed from distracted driving, the law enforcement officer at the scene wouldn’t be able to automatically search the person’s phone without some type of court order.
However, there are lawful ways to seize evidence for the purposes of investigation, including by a subpoena, search warrant, or other court order, depending on the circumstances and nature of the case.
Tips for Reducing Distractions While Driving
Before we let you go, check out these quick but effective tips to help you stay focused on the road in front of you at all times whenever you get behind the wheel.
- Only use your cellphone in the event of an emergency while you’re driving.
- Try to limit the level of activity and number of passengers in your car at any one time.
- If you start to feel sleepy, pull off the road.
- Don’t eat while driving — spilling food can be a huge distraction on the road.
- Don’t try to multitask when you’re behind the wheel, even if you’re tempted to take care of that business call or adjust the radio to hear your favorite beats. Do it all before you hit the road instead!
- Turn your phone off and switch it to Do Not Disturb so you won’t be tempted to use it at your next red light.
- Try to plan your route ahead of time so you don’t have to divert your eyes from the road searching for the right street or destination.
- Don’t reach for anything that falls while you’re driving.
- If you’re the parent of a teen, think about restricting the number of passengers they can transport until your teen is more experienced on the road.
- Watch out for environmental factors, like daylight saving time switches.
Frequently Asked Questions
If your mind’s buzzing with questions about distracted driving, you’ve come to the right place.
#1 — Is driving while fatigued considered a distraction?
Remember, distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from the task at hand — driving. Driving drowsy isn’t just a major distraction, but can prove incredibly dangerous as well.
If you ever start to feel extremely tired while on the road, it’s better to pull over and find a safe place to take a quick nap rather than to try to push forward, potentially putting yourself and other drivers at risk.
#2 — What is electronic distracted driving?
This simply refers to distracted driving involving wireless communications devices, such as through the use of emailing, text messaging, and calls on your phone. And as you know — this type of distracted driving poses some of the most significant road danger, both to vehicle occupants and nonoccupants.
#3 — Can I be stopped by a police officer for using my mobile device even if I’m driving legally?
If you live in a state with secondary enforcement, the police officer isn’t permitted to stop you unless there is another citable offense at play. With primary enforcement, police can stop you without that requirement.
#4 — Am I permitted to text at a red light?
While it depends on the state or city you live in, generally, the answer is no or the laws are unclear in that respect. In any case, it’s much safer to either wait until you get from Point A to Point B or pull over safely at a rest stop to check your messages.
#5 — Can a police officer impound my phone without my permission?
No, not without you giving permission or the officer obtaining a warrant.
Still have questions about distracted driving in your state? Comment below and let us know.
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