Posted : 07/27/2009
It's a fact. Cutting back on everyday driving distractions will help you save money on car insurance. Insurance.com's study of accidents and traffic tickets shows that the average auto insurance rate increases 22 percent following the first accident and 13 percent after the first ticket. Avoid these costly mistakes by eliminating common driver distractions.
Anything that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel is likely to lead to a car crash (or a near-miss if you're lucky) and higher auto insurance rates.
Eight out of 10 drivers who own a cellphone admit to talking while driving and 18 percent admit to texting while driving according to a 2008 Nationwide Mutual study. In fact, 45 percent of drivers in the survey reported they were involved in a crash or near-accident with a driver who was using a cellphone.
While only 3 percent of respondents said "eating" is the most dangerous distraction for people while driving, drive-thru's are very tempting when you're on the run.
"Insurance company claim reports are filled with poor excuses for car accidents," says Sharon Webb, independent insurance agent at Insurance.com. "I've heard things like eating chocolate cake without a fork or spilling hot clam chowder while driving, as well as tamer excuses like the lid slipped off my soft drink or the dog jumped on my lap!" Sadly, in just an instant, you can miss a green light turning red or a pedestrian stepping our from between parked cars and have an accident.
No. To our knowledge, there's no check-off box on an insurance claim report to indicate what you were eating while driving, so you won't get a ticket for it unless you're at-fault for the accident. If you do, it's probably time to compare auto insurance rates, because your rates are likely to increase.
There are 5 states that ban the use of hand-held cellphones by any driver. Additionally, 21 states ban cellphone use by new drivers and 17 states prohibit school bus drivers from chatting while driving. Texting while driving is outlawed in 14 states for all drivers, in 10 additional states for new drivers and in 1 additional state for bus drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Those who oppose banning cellphone use while driving complain that the accident data is not compelling, partly because it's self-reported. Many drivers are unwilling to admit to being distracted when they're involved in an accident because their auto insurance rate will likely increase as a result. Others believe that a cellphone is critical for safety, for directions, and even work productivity, as drivers with long commutes often use hands-free equipment to make the most of their drive time. It's tough to find the middle ground, as even people who've lost a loved one in an accident involving driver distraction have found it tough to put the cellphone in the trunk.
Scientists have documented a type of adrenaline rush that follows the "ping" from a text message notification. And, although you know you shouldn't peek at a text while driving, it's an urge that's tough to resist. Driving can get boring, so a quick phone call or glance at a text message makes you feel better, until the distraction proves dangerous.
Some driver distractions, like texting and talking while driving, are as likely to result in an accident (and an increase in your auto insurance rates) as is driving while intoxicated, yet the debate rages in the majority of states that have not have not taken steps to halt this dangerous practice.
Just for fun, take a quick glance at the drivers eating breakfast on the way to work tomorrow to see how many really are distracted. More than a few are probably talking (hands-free) with food in their mouths. Manners, please!
Share your story of the most interesting (or disgusting) thing you see someone eating while driving, and we'll feature the best ones on our website.
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