Texting and Driving
Why Insurance Prices Will Keep Rising Until Personal Responsibility is Revived
It seems like every week we receive the same call from our clients. People want to know why the price of their insurance is going up, even though they themselves are safe drivers, usually with a spotless driving record. First, I like to commend them on their responsible driving because the surest way to make your insurance more expensive is to cause an accident. Then, I have to remind them that many accidents involve more than one vehicle and even if they themselves are perfect drivers, the person who could hit them probably isn’t.
A recent technological innovation that has massively improved our lives in many ways is unfortunately exacerbating the risks of being involved in an auto accident. Many people think texting while driving is harmless but the facts show the opposite is true. Let’s examine them.
· There are 1.6 million accidents in the US every year that involve cell phone use
· 500,000 of those accidents cause injuries, with 6,000 fatalities
· Texting while driving is now the leading cause of death among teenagers
· Several studies have found that texting while driving impairs reaction time worse than being under the influence of alcohol or marijuana
· Simply reading a text takes the driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds or more
· At 55mph, a car travels the length of a football field in 5 seconds
In response to the dangers of texting and driver almost every state, as well as many countries around the world, have introduced laws to make it illegal. However, the laws don’t seem to be very effective at preventing or reducing distracted driving because of the difficulty of enforcing them, because the rates of texting while driving aren’t decreasing, but the number of accidents are.
Just as innovations in cell phone technology have made phones a more ubiquitous distraction, many innovators are working on technologies to detect and prevent texting while driving. Some ideas being developed include:
· Cameras that detect distracted drivers
· Undercover motorcycle law enforcement officers
· Using a cell phone’s GPS data to detect mobile use while on the road and restricting cell phone use
· Applying existing technologies for detecting drunk driving to distracted driving, combined with usage based insurance pricing that would result in drivers being charged higher premiums when they text and drive
· Opt in programs that reward drivers for continuous safe driving
· Location-based monitoring that parents can install on their teenagers’ phones that will alert them so they can talk to their children about the dangers
All these factors together mean that within the past few years the risks of driving have increased and as the costs and dangers continue to grow, the demand for a solution will too. The same types of technology that make cell phones modern wonders can one day be used to reduce texting while driving. Personally, I would enjoy being part of an opt in program that monitored my phone use while driving, and provided insurance rebates for every period I managed to stop myself from doing so and I believe most people would also prefer to be rewarded for their smart behavior rather than be punished for their mistakes.
As it stands now, unfortunately every driver is paying the costs of texting and driving. Everyone is facing increased risks on the road now, even if they exercise personal responsibility, which means the costs of their insurance are going up, as well as their risk of serious injury and even death. Until the technology that created this problem can be used to solve it, the only thing we can do is refuse to be silent. If you’re in the car with someone who uses their phone while driving ask them to stop selfishly putting themselves and others at risk.
Maybe you’ve been texting someone and they texted you back #X. This is part of social media campaign to discourage texting while driving. It means that the person you are texting is about to be driving, and that it will have to wait.