Distracted driving has long been a problem for drivers, and the growing number of motorists who use smartphones behind the wheel isn't helping the issue. While even the safest drivers can follow the rules of the road to their utmost, the mere presence of people who are texting and driving, scrolling through Facebook or taking photos greatly increases their chances of an accident. That, in turn, can lead to rising auto insurance rates for almost everybody.
Recent data suggests that the number of accidents in the first six months of 2016 increased significantly on an annual basis, and that was largely due to people using mobile devices behind the wheel, according to the Auto Insurance Center. For instance, more than 70,000 Instagram posts last year - nearly 200 per day - even used hashtags that indicated the user was driving while they took the photo or video they posted. And that poses a major safety problem on the roads.
Common accident causes
Indeed, nearly half of all fatal accidents involving distracted driving occurred because users were texting or browsing apps behind the wheel, compared with fewer than 1 in 3 that occurred because the user was dialing a phone number, and fewer than 1 in 4 while the driver was taking a phone call, the report said. And these issues come in spite of the fact that the vast majority of people - in all age groups - acknowledge the danger inherent to this type of distracted driving, including 95 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 24.
But despite that awareness, nearly 1 in 4 young drivers in this age group say they use apps while driving on a regular basis, and nearly half say they do so sometimes. That's not to single out this age group in particular - the majority of people in just about every age group use apps at least sometimes behind the wheel - but young people are by far the most likely to be involved in fatal accidents related to smartphone use.
The impact on insurance costs
An accident can obviously have a massive impact on a person's auto insurance costs, but so too can simply getting a ticket for a moving violation, according to InsuranceQuotes. Tickets for violations like driving under the influence or reckless driving bring with them much higher rates. However, careless driving - often associated with distracted driving - came third, raising premiums an average of 33 percent.
In addition, new data from the Consumer Federation of America also found that if good drivers don't have auto insurance through large providers, making the switch to one can also end up costing them more. People with clean driving records who switched from a small insurer to one of the nation's largest typically saw their premiums rise by between 9 and 15 percent in comparison with similar drivers coming over from other big insurers.
With these issues in mind, it's important for insurers and consumers alike to look at the best possible ways to keep themselves protected on the road and - in doing so - keep their premiums as low as possible.