Will a texting and driving ticket increase my car insurance?
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you receive a ticket for texting while driving, you can pretty much bet your car insurance rates will go up. Distracted driving laws are popping up all over the country; laws that include texting while driving as one of the activities that constitutes distraction. In addition, it has become one of the newest causes being undertaken by safe driving advocates.
Common sense dictates that texting while driving is a dangerous activity. It is simply impossible to pay attention to what’s happening on the road and what you’re inputting into your cell phone simultaneously. To illustrate how dangerous it is, there are a number of public safety announcements produced for drivers in the UK demonstrating it only takes a fraction of a second to be distracted enough to cause a fatal accident.
How serious is the texting while driving issue?
The University of North Texas Health Science Center published a study in 2010 that looked at car crashes from the years 2001 through 2007. According to their study, there were more than 16,000 deaths on American roads during that period that were somehow related to texting while driving. The issue is even more serious when you take into account serious injuries that result in lifetime disabilities and other long-term consequences.
Will my car insurance rates go up after a texting and driving ticket?
Furthermore, consider the fact that the study didn’t look at anything beyond 2007. Anyone who stays abreast of technology and mobile phones knows that texting has increased exponentially with the introduction of the smart phone and its accompanying unlimited texting plans. It only makes sense that without some sort of enforcement; those numbers have probably gotten much worse in the last four years. The more individuals you have texting; the more accidents will result.
Why haven’t texting laws reduced the number of accidents overall?
The Christian Science Monitor reported in September 2010 that bans on texting while driving had not significantly reduced the number of annual car crashes. Not only that, the sources they used in the report seemed to indicate that many states actually saw an increase in texting while driving after enacting bans. This seems to be counterintuitive until you step back and consider how most people send a text message.
The reality of human physiology dictates that most people will hold their phone at about mid chest. That means it is below the level of the windows and nearly impossible for police officers to see while passing by. Even in states where texting while driving is considered a primary offense, it’s nearly impossible to catch a driver who knows how to keep the phone out of sight. Because so few people actually get tickets, it is not uncommon for most drivers who pursue this dangerous practice to assume they will never be caught.
The unfortunate truth is that most texting while driving tickets are given after an accident occurs. In fact, the only way officers often know a person has been texting, is when a driver admits doing so during an accident investigation. Therefore, one of the only ways for insurance companies to combat the issue is to impose stiff rate increases for texting while driving tickets.
Why should my car insurance company care about ending the texting while driving?
Just like talking on the cell phone while driving, most texting while driving accidents are a source of serious injuries and deaths because of the speeds involved. Let’s be honest; most of us won’t be sending a text message while backing out of a parking space. Texting while driving accidents typically occur on the road and involve serious speed and impact. Because those types of accidents are so costly to cover financially, your insurance company has a stake in making sure they don’t occur.
When such an accident does occur, your insurance company will be forced to pay at least the amount of your liability. In states where car insurance is based on fault, your provider may also end up paying the medical bills of other drivers and their passengers after an accident that you caused.
In cases where serious injuries result in lifetime disabilities, insurance companies could be faced with a judgment in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Of course, they would want to try to prevent such accidents if possible.
Will I still be able to afford my insurance after a texting while driving ticket?
The size of any rate increase will depend on a number of factors. Suffice it to say, whether you’ll still be able to afford your insurance will depend on those factors. Your car insurance company will be looking at:
- The age of the driver
- Whether an accident occurred in conjunction with the ticket
- Where and when the driver in question typically operates the vehicle
- Previous accidents or violations
If it is a first violation for a driver with no accidents, the increase will probably be fairly affordable. On the other end of spectrum might be a driver who has DWI/DUI convictions already on his record. Such a driver will be in a high-risk pool before he gets his texting ticket, but his rates will undoubtedly increase dramatically after receiving a texting ticket. It all comes down to risk and how much of it you open your insurance company to with your behavior.
Texting while driving is foolish behavior even if you take the insurance rate question out of the equation. When you do so, you’re endangering not only yourself, but also every other driver and pedestrian on the road. So put away the phone, pay attention to your driving, and we’ll all be better off.