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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month!

How many times do you see someone driving distracted?

Texting or eating or simply not paying attention to the road. Especially in an age of growing technology, distracted driving is a huge problem. Distracted driving can be using your phone, eating, drinking or getting ready in your car in the morning. The bad news is insurance premiums increase because of distracted driving. 

DEFINITION OF DISTRACTED DRIVING

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Distracted driving falls into three categories: manual – hands off the wheel; vision – eyes off the road; and cognitive – mind off the task. The most dangerous of these habits involve all three categories of distraction such as texting or eating that require you to look away, handle something besides the wheel, and give you some level of psychological stimulation.

THE MAIN DISTRATIONS

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. Phone use while driving now rivals drunk driving as a safety concern for drivers. Drunk driving causes more fatalities but distracted driving causes more accidents. Drivers aged 16 – 19 that are involved in accidents are more likely to be texting and driving than drinking and driving.

Another one of the most dangerous activities when behind the wheel is eating and drinking. One study found that eating or drinking made drivers over 3.6x more likely to be involving in an accident than drivers not eating or drinking.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

INSURANCE RATES

In 2018 cell phone usage caused 1.5 million car accidents in the U.S. While nationwide car accidents and fatalities were trending downward from 2005 to 2011, they have since begun trending upward. The upward trend correlates with a rise in insurance premium rates nationally. Auto insurance premiums have risen an estimated 20% in the U.S. The phrase, “the losses of the few are paid by the many” rings true when it comes to car accidents. Insurance companies are now taking the hit for the added exposure. For example, in 2016 State Farm lost an estimated $7 Billion dollars in auto claims. As distracted driving increases, accidents and claims increase. Insurance companies raise rates in response to deal with what they project to be future losses. Newer technology that’s more expensive to repair, more drivers on the road and people being distracted while driving all tie into why insurance rates are going up. As a driver, the only variable you have control over is your own contribution to the rise in distracted driving. Please be safe and stay focused on driving when behind the wheel.

TIPS TO AVOID DISTRACTED DRIVING

  • Make playlists or preset radio stations for less interaction with the radio
  • Put your cell phone on the middle console face-down
  • Enter destination into the GPS before you leave
  • Never plan a meal to eat in the car
  • Remember texts and calls can always wait

Do you have questions about your car insurance plan? Contact us

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