Distracted Driving

Posted on April 07, 2022 at 09:22 PM

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

A distracted driving ticket could cost more than just the fine, insurers say

Distracted Driving Awareness Month kicked off this month with the deployment of extra law enforcement patrols across the nation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Those extra patrols aim to specifically look for and ticket those who are distracted by cell phones while driving and shine a spotlight on the deadly and costly behavior of distracted driving.

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, there were 23,784 crashes in Oregon from 2015 to 2019 that involved a distracted driver, resulting in 158 fatalities and 23,403 injuries. During that same time, 64, 083 drivers were convicted for a distracted driving offense.

The Idaho Department of Transportation reports that distracted driving crashes made up 19 percent of all crashes in 2020 and were responsible for 10 percent of all fatalities.

2021 Distracted Driving Observation Survey by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission shows that the statewide distracted driver rate decreased to 6.9 percent in 2021 from 9.4 percent in 2020, and that since Washington lawmakers enacted new tougher laws in 2017, distracted driving deaths have decreased by 40 percent. 

Distracted driving is broadly defined as activity that take a driver’s attention off the road. In recent years, Washington, Oregon and Idaho have enacted tougher distracted driving laws with steeper penalties. But keep in mind, a distracted driving ticket could cost more than just the fine. 

Besides being deadly, crashes caused by distracted driving can have an impact on insurance rates. Distracted driving infractions are included in state driving records, which are available to insurance companies. More insurers now report that a distracted driving infraction on your record could increase what you pay for auto insurance, in some cases by as much as 20 percent or more.

Whether your own insurance premium will be affected by a citation for distracted driving, and what that impact could be, will vary depending on the circumstances, your overall driving record and on your insurance company and policy. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company or agent to find out more about those potential consequences.

An even better plan, however, is to avoid the ticket or the crash. When you’re driving, keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your mind on your driving.

For more information about Distracted Driving Awareness Month, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. For more information about distracted driving or auto insurance, contact NW Insurance Council at 800-664-4942 or visit www.nwinsurance.org.

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