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What are the Real Costs of Distracted Driving?

The costs of distracted driving can be huge and we’re not simply talking about texting fines!

Let’s be honest. Teens aren’t the only distracted drivers on the roads. We’ve all found ourselves distracted in some form or fashion while driving at some point. It could be reaching in the back floorboard for a toy to stop the crying coming from the backseat. It might be reaching in the McDonalds’ bag for that last fry. How about simply adjusting the stereo or air conditioning? I haven’t even mentioned the use of cell phones – which just so happen to be largely responsible for the big increase in distracted driving cases. Unfortunately, this is a nationwide epidemic that threatens everyone on the road.

According to the CDC, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured each day in the U.S. due to distracted driving accidents.

A recent article, 10 States with the Toughest Texting While Driving Laws, showed how much many states are making an effort to reduce these alarming statistics. While Oregon came in ranked #1 with a texting fine of $1k, I thought it was equally interesting that Utah came in #2 with a texting fine of $750 AND 5 points. That’s right! You also take a huge hit on your driving record which means your insurance premiums also take quite a large bump.

Penalties in Texas aren’t quite as hefty, but a first offense for texting and driving can still include a fine up to $99. Some areas in Texas have stricter laws. For example, you could face a $200 fine if caught using your phone behind the wheel in San Antonio. That fine jumps to $500 in Austin.

It would be a losing bet to put money on being able to take a quick trip to the grocery store and not pass several drivers staring at their phones.

It only takes a split-second for something to go wrong while driving and that’s even when 100% focused on the task at hand.

Here are a few tips for consideration if you or someone you know finds it too difficult to let go of cell phone habits while driving:

– Place your phone somewhere out of reach
– Turn off notification sounds
– Download safe driving apps (Here are some options for those interested – Safe Driving Apps)
– Pull over to make calls or to send text messages

Most insurance companies today offer the potential for savings when participating in their “telematics” driving programs. What’s that you ask? There’s no doubt you’ve seen the Progressive commercials where Flow talks about Snapshot, but Safeco has RightTrack, Travelers has IntelliDrive, and the list goes on and on. You can usually see a discount of 5-15% for just signing up for the program with final discounts being as high as 30%. Most only monitor your driving habits for a period of 90 days, but there are some that continuously monitor driving habits over the life of your policy. They usually look to monitor hard-braking, rapid acceleration, and night-time driving. The point is that these programs can not only offer you potential savings on your auto insurance, but they also offer the benefit of keeping safe driving habits top of mind. Think of the State Farm commercial where Aaron Rodgers’ “agent” asks him to floor it while driving and Aaron follow ups with a warning not to mess with his safe driver discount.

It’s time that we all take part in our fast-paced society to make the roads a safer place for everyone.

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