Sure, many states are passing laws that make it illegal for drivers to use cellular devices behind the wheel, but how often have you texted at a stoplight? We’re all guilty of it. We think that a little text here and there won’t hurt anyone, right? You’re not alone in thinking so.
As reported by The Detroit News, the number of Michigan drivers admitting to texting and driving has doubled over the last year. Despite initiatives by the Obama administration to crack down on the practice, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that drivers aren’t using their cellphones any less.
Are bans a bust?
Turns out, bans on texting have actually been associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for cars damaged in an accident.
“Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all,” says Adrian Lund, president of both the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “In a perverse twist, crashes increased in 3 of the 4 states we studied after bans were enacted. It’s an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws,” he concludes.
Explaining the increase in crashes
If bans haven’t changed how often drivers use their cell phones, maybe they’re changing the way drivers use their cell phones. If drivers were simply ignoring the bans, the crash patterns shouldn’t have changed. According to Lund, “Drivers did respond to the bans somehow, and what they might have been doing was moving their phones down and out of sight when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal.”
Text messaging already makes a crash up to 23 times more likely, reports the NHTSA. By moving their phone down, drivers could be looking away from the road for a longer period of time and increasing their risk of an accident and a car insurance claim.
The dangers of texting and driving
While it may seem like texting and driving is no big deal, the act actually causes 330,000 injuries per year, reports the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Texting and driving could cause you to be in an accident, injure a pedestrian, or could even lead to something much worse. What’s more, a car accident or a citation for texting could result in a higher auto insurance premium come renewal. Remember, texting and driving is distracted driving, and distracted driving is never safe!
What’s a texter to do?
Celebrities and drivers everywhere are taking the “No Phone Zone Pledge” and vowing to keep their family and friends safe by not using their mobile phone while driving. While you can take the pledge (and stick to it), you can’t control other drivers. If you see another driver on their phone, the best thing you can do is keep your distance and drive defensively. Chances are, they’re not paying as much attention to the road as they should be. Stay alert and keep your distance. Your car and your passengers will thank you!
What’s more, by being a safe driver and avoiding accidents, you could take advantage of safe driver insurance discounts and avoid the hassle of filing an annoying car insurance claim. Have you taken the “No Phone Zone Pledge?” How do you avoid distracted driving? Let us know! Head over to our Facebook page or tweet us @DirectAutoIns.