Distracted driving | The bank rate
Driving while distracted by something like texting your phone or playing on the radio can not only attract cops and get you arrested, it can also compromise your safety and the safety of others around you. Every day, an average of 8 people are killed in an accident involving distracted driving. And although when many people hear “distracted driving” they think they are teenagers, adult motorists are not without blame.
When distracted driving results in a traffic violation, it can impact your driving record and have long-term effects on your auto insurance rates. To be able to make the right decision after being charged with distracted driving, it’s a good idea to know some of the behaviors that can potentially lead to such a violation.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that interferes with your ability to concentrate on the road. Here are some examples of distractions:
- Send SMS while driving
- Talk on the phone
- Play loud music
- Playing with the car’s stereo / climate controls
- Talk to someone in the car
- To eat
- Put on makeup
- Alcohol or drugs
- Sleep deprivation
Not surprisingly, distracted driving is on the rise. Insurance expert Laura Adams notes: “Thanks to smartphones, texting and social media, distracted driving car accidents are on the rise. We often think that teenagers are the only drivers who engage in dangerous driving behaviors, but older drivers are just as susceptible. “
What makes distracted driving so dangerous is its impact on our ability to drive. For example, drivers who focus more on their phones than on the road may not see someone suddenly stop, resulting in delayed reaction time and an accident.
Additionally, juggling multiple things at once does not give drivers a clear situational awareness, which means they could make judgments based on incomplete information. This, together with delayed reaction times, can lead to more accidents.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Unfortunately, distracted driving can have tragic consequences. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that in 2019, 3,142 people died from distracted driving, compared to 2,841 lives lost in 2018.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that when you watch a text or read a text for five seconds at 55 miles per hour, it is the same as walking across a football field without looking at the road. What makes this illustration even more annoying is that in 2019, 39% of high school students admitted to sending an email or text while driving.
Distracted driving not only has an impact on drivers, it also affects pedestrians. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association says that in 2018, 6,200 walkers were killed on American roads, marking a 28-year high. “Pedestrian fatalities, which typically occur at crosswalks and intersections, are also increasing due to driver distraction. It’s a growing crisis with deadly consequences, ”Adams says.
How Distracted Driving Affects Insurance Rates
Auto insurance companies are cracking down on those caught texting and driving. If you receive a traffic ticket for texting or are involved in a car accident where distraction is a factor, your auto insurance will likely increase when your policy is renewed.
The reason is that auto insurance providers assess risk when determining the price of policies. If your driving history shows that you have a tendency to drive distracted, you are more likely to be involved in an accident because of your risky behavior.
How to avoid distracted driving
Adams recommends that drivers “put their phones down to stay more focused on driving.” This can help reduce the number of fatalities related to distracted driving. “
Putting away the phones is a great first step. Before putting your phone away, make sure to turn off all notifications and put your phone in a purse or glove box. That way, you can resist the urge to peek at it if a notification comes up, while still having access in an emergency.
Another preventative tip is to limit all distractions. After starting your car, adjust your temperature controls to a comfortable setting. You can also use this time to load a playlist, podcast, or tune to your favorite radio station. Doing this before driving prevents you from wanting to switch with the dials while driving, which takes your attention away from the road.
As part of the planning, you should eat and do your hair or makeup before you leave your home. This prevents you from trying to do two things at the same time, which impairs your ability to focus only on driving.
You’ll also want to minimize other distractions like too many passengers and conversations. Plus, you’ll want to avoid loud music. As exhilarating as it may be to blow your tracks up, it also limits your ability to focus on your surroundings.
During this time, if you are tired, it is important to leave the road to go to a rest area, hotel or parking lot. Get out of the car and get some fresh air. Walk to work your muscles. If you’re still too tired when you get back in your car, consider ordering an Uber or Lyft, or have a friend pick you up. Driving while tired reduces your reaction times, which makes driving dangerous.
Either way, try to plan ahead to eliminate your distractions when you’re on the road. This includes taking frequent breaks on longer trips and scheduling music so you don’t change channels all the time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Distracted Driving Illegal?
Using cell phones for calls and texts may be illegal, depending on the laws in your state. Being under the influence, drowsy, or distracted by conversation or music inside the car are also traffic violations and can result in a penalty if you get caught.
Can I get a distracted driving ticket?
If being distracted causes you to deviate from safe driving habits, you can be arrested and fined. If the distracted driving was the result of being under the influence, you can be charged with a DUI.
Will distracted driving affect my insurance rates?
When distracted driving is severe enough to cause a traffic violation, your insurance premiums will likely be affected. Traffic violations stay on your driving record for an average of five years, depending on your insurance company, after which your insurance costs may start to drop.