Distracted Driving Risks - Insurance Companies Play Hardball with a 1000% Penalty Increase

By Ivan Serrano - 21 May '19 11:21AM
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The Zebra published a study recently that demonstrates that insurance companies raised penalties for being caught using a smartphone and driving by over 10,000% since 2011. It's to be expected as the Texas Department of Transportation recorded 19% of all accidents being related to a distracted driver in 2017. The problem with distracted drivers isn't confined to Texas, however, as distracted driving makes up a significant amount of accidents in all states and has forced Elmira Insurance Brokers to take substantial steps in dealing with their clientele. Drivers need to be extra cautious and take the increased premiums to heart, as they have been instituted for their own good.

A Massive Jump in Premiums

In the past, the penalties for being caught using a cell phone were nominal until 2015 when the scope of the problem caused insurance companies to crack down on users. In 2016, the premium for getting ticketed for driving while using a cell phone went to $185 per ticket. This trend continued as penalties increased in 2017 to $226 per ticket and peaked in 2018 with $290 per ticket. While the phenomenon for distracted drivers makes up a significant problem, the prices increases on premiums across states haven't followed suit. While the premium price increase here is the average, some states have only raised their penalties by a mere 10%. States like Hawaii, New York, and Wyoming don't seem to think that distracted driving is worth a substantial penalty being tacked on to insurance premiums. However, as The Drive mentions, using a phone behind the wheel of a car could raise the risk of an accident by as much as 8%.

Infotainment More of a Problem than a Fix

The development of infotainment systems that allow users to connect their phones to a more visible screen in their cars can be more of a problem than a solution since it may lead to just as much distraction. While we're not likely to see the end of this kind of system in new cars anytime soon, advances have been made to keep them from being as distracting as some models already on the market. Aftermarket infotainment systems are even worse since they are designed to be flashy without any concern for driver attention. The automobile world struggles to offer drivers an easy-to-use system that allows them free access to their phone while at the same time ensuring that those same phones don't distract drivers enough to lead to an accident.

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