Drivers distracted by their smartphones are becoming more dangerous, and insurance premiums are increasing. In 2015 State Farm Automobile Insurance Company found that 36% of people surveyed admitted to texting while driving and 29% said they access the internet, compared to 31% and 13% respectively in 2009. For drivers aged 18 to 29, 64% text while driving and 54% use the internet. More alarming, these figures do not capture the full smartphone related distracted driving numbers because drivers do not always admit to using a smartphone while driving.
At the same time insurance rates are rising despite predictions that rates would fall as more vehicles with high-tech anti-collision sensors hit the road. We used to use cellphones to text and talk; now you can make dinner reservations, upload social media and shoot a video. The problem of distracted driving will continue to become more pervasive with the proliferation of new technology. General Motors reported that it is going to offer unlimited data plans for its cars.
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the number of deadly accidents rose 7.2%. The National Safety Council, a non-profit organization, showed a rise of 6% for 2016. The National Safety Council is recommending that companies ban the use of cellphones for employees driving during working hours. The growing number of collisions is stifling the much publicized beneficial impacts of newer, safer vehicles. This may explain why your automobile insurance rates are going up when you have not had any accidents or tickets.
The insurance industry is sounding alarms based in part on internal investigations into the cause of policyholder’s crashes. In lawsuits involving collisions the insurer may obtain the drivers’ phone records.
Yet despite the fact that distracted driving is contributing to the deaths of thousands of people, many of them teenagers, people will not put down their cellphones while driving. All you have to do is look around and you will see drivers chatting away on cellphones or looking down to text message.
By Beth Cole