Talk about a hot topic!
There are few places that you can go without running into someone who is either talking on their cell phone or texting their friends.
Unfortunately, sometimes they run into you while they are busy on their cell phones. It’s a good thing that you are carrying good car insurance with cheap insurance rates, because the person that just hit you is going to be paying more in insurance rates than you.
Distracted drivers are a common topic of discussion. From city halls, commissioner meetings, and police and safety departments, these government bodies are trying to find a solution to the accidents attributed to distracted drivers.
There are no clear studies that show the exact number of accidents that can be attributed to the use of a cell phone, however, that has not stopped states from enacting laws surrounding both the use of cell phones and the texting on cell phones. There doesn’t seem to be any distinction between hands-free or hand-held devices, with the exception of texting.
In most cases, the police officer on the scene of the accident is the one to make the determination as to whether the at-fault driver was distracted or not. The officer will ask all the parties in the accident if they were on their cell phone or texting at the time of the crash.
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration reported that 16% of the fatalities in 2009 were attributed to distracted drivers.
30 states and Washington, D.C. have banned texting while driving for all ages, and no cell phones at all for novice drivers. 11 additional states, for a total of 41 states, have laws in place to ban texting for novices only. Nine states and Washington, D.C. prohibit the use of cell phones completely, no matter how old you are.
Texting and driving seems to be something the younger driver is more likely to engage in. Regardless of the ban on texting, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety notes that 13% of the drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 text while driving. Texting raises your chance of having an accident by 23%. Your car insurance rates will be much higher as well.
A normal person driving through traffic has the ability to react and brake within a half a second. Someone who is impaired by alcohol needs an additional four feet before they begin to brake. The difference is the effect of alcohol on judgment and reaction time.
Someone who is texting needs a total of 70 feet to stop. Between the fact that they are looking down for two to three seconds, to read, or send a message, and the fact that most texting drivers are young, they are more likely to hit someone or something. You can drive the length of a football field in the two to three seconds that your eyes are off the road.
Texting and driving is also a factor in road rage. Often times the act of texting causes erratic driving. The person texting speeds up, slows down, weaves from lane to lane, and in general becomes a hazard to other drivers. The reaction to erratic driving, or driving in the passing lane while on the phone, can become confrontational.
Carnegie Mellon says that your brain is concentrating 37% less on your driving while you are on the phone, than if you were fully alert and aware of your surroundings.
If you receive a ticket for texting, or for cell phone use in states that have laws against it, you may receive points against your driver’s license, which will raise your car insurance rates. This will cost you your cheap insurance premiums.
Some states consider the ticket to be a civil offense and you will be fined, but the information will not go against your license and you will not be assessed higher insurance rates as a result.
20 states consider texting to be a primary offense and you may receive a ticket for holding a cell phone if a police officer saw you texting, or using your cell phone.
Each state is different and it is important that you know what your state requires regarding the use of cell phones, or texting while driving.
While Florida has no laws against cell phones or texting regardless of the driver’s age, Hawaii has no state-wide limits, but does have individual county limits regarding hand-held devices. In Hawaii, what might be fine in one spot, will get you a ticket four miles down the road.
The best thing to do is to be safe, and pull over if you need to take a call or send a text. Distracted driving can cause an accident, which will cost you higher insurance rates, and your cheap insurance premium.