Driver Distractions and Your Car Insurance Rates

By Insurance.com 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.

Talking, texting, tacos and tomato soup?

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.

Avoid these three dangerous food groups while driving

  • Hot - Whether it's hot coffee, hot chocolate or a soup-to-go can, you can spill it or burn your mouth in an instant. And, can't someone invent a travel lid that doesn't leak?
  • Greasy - It's true that tacos, chili dogs and hamburgers are designed to be eaten on the run! But, greasy foods make your steering wheel a mess and that spells danger. Perhaps even more dangerous is the person who's grabbing a BBQ rib or wing from a bucket of chicken.
  • Gooey - A jelly donut or breakfast burrito can easily ooze down your shirt on the way to work. And, what's more distracting that worrying about how you'll get the stain out before a morning meeting?

"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.

Will eating and driving show up on an auto insurance accident report?

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.

You may get a ticket for texting or talking

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.

Cellphones: addicting and intoxicating

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.

Take a poll of your own

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.

Compare real rates and save real money
Valid Zipcode Required
Select
Invalid Age
Select
Invalid Carrier
Yes
No
Yes
No

Related Articles on Insurance.com

0 Responses to "Driver Distractions and Your Car Insurance Rates"

No Comments

What do you think? You can add a helpful comment to this page by filling out the form below.
Just looking for a quote? Click here
 
 
 
Dentmaster:
What does my car
insurance cover?

Test your knowledge in
under 60 seconds!
Give your feedback