If you’re anything like me, your phone is your lifeline; it provides excitement, solace, and ultimately … distraction. A distraction most of us don’t want to live without. insurance rates are spiking across the nation because of accidents and traffic violations related to smartphone use while driving. If you happen to be one of those people that like to text or talk while driving, you might want to consider how much that behavior could cost you.
Driving While Texting or Talking is More Dangerous Than Driving Drunk
According to recent studies, texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving drunk. This is because any time you send a text message, your eyes are diverted from the road and focused on your smartphone. On average, drivers have been shown to take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. When a vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour, that driver could drive the entire length of a football field without every looking up.
Distracted driving is not just a problem for our young drivers. Auto insurance claims have shown that 47 percent of adults are just as much at fault as their younger counterparts. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to get in an auto accident compared to non-texting drivers.
Auto Insurance States Smartphone Use While Driving Could Cost You Big
Ontario Courts don’t take distracted driving with a light heart. In fact, over the past few years they have raised the fine amounts for those caught driving and operating a smartphone at the same time. Right now the fine is set at $155, but starting March 18th, 2014 the fine will be up to $280 plus applicable surcharges.
Fines and surcharges aren’t the only thing you’ll have to worry about if you’re cited for distracted driving. As with any moving violation, your auto insurance rates are likely to go up — even if you don’t receive demerit points. If you get into an accident because of distracted driving, expect your auto insurance premium to raise even higher.
2 key factors that insurance companies consider when rating the risk/premium are; the number of convictions on your driving record and the severity of the offence. A minor offence can cause an increase upwards of 15-20% on your annual premium which will last at least 3 years. All it takes is one serious moving violation to increase your rates by over 45 percent.
Auto Insurance Tips for Safe Cellphone Use and Driving
If you are the type that can’t leave home without your smartphone, there are ways you can protect your rates, finances and of course, your safety. Auto insurance representatives recommend:
- Making calls and sending texts before turning on your car.
- Turning your phone on “Silent” and placing it where you cannot see it while driving — this helps you avoid any temptation to look at or use your phone.
- If you must take a call, pull over, put your car in park, and take the call.
- Let the call or text message wait — it’s highly unlikely it is urgent.
- Install a Bluetooth headset or hands-free calling device so that you can answer a call without operating your phone. Some newer vehicles have hands-free calling built into their navigation system.
- Ask a passenger to take the call on your behalf.
Don’t assume that you can fight a distracted driving moving violation. Because of the rate of deaths and serious injuries related to distracted driving, courts are not showing leniency to those cited for such behaviors. You already pay a monthly service fee for your smartphone, don’t let your cellphone cost you more than it should.
For more information about how your cellphone use could impact your auto insurance, contact your auto insurance broker right away. We can advise you about how your premium could change in the event of an accident and give you more tips for safe driving.
Do you have any tips to add or share regarding distracted driving? We would love to hear them.