Distracted Driving

Posted on April 02, 2024 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 has kicked off with the deployment of high-visibility enforcement patrols in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The extra patrols specifically look for and ticket those distracted by cell phones while driving and shine a spotlight on the deadly and costly behavior of distracted driving.

In 2021, distracted driving killed 3,522 people in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2023, the Washington State Patrol stopped over 28,000 distracted drivers. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), there were 26,264 crashes in Oregon from 2017 to 2021 that involved a distracted driver, resulting in 194 fatalities and 24,264 injuries. During that same time, 60,519 drivers were convicted for a distracted driving offense. And In Idaho, more than 4,750 distracted driving crashes occurred causing 34 fatalities in 2022, according to the Idaho State Police.

Distracted driving is broadly defined as activities that take a driver’s attention off the road. Washington, Oregon and Idaho have enacted distracted driving laws in recent years that include higher fines and tougher restrictions on cell phone use while behind the wheel along with violations for other distractions while driving, such as eating, reading or grooming. But keep in mind that 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 as well. 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 insurance premium will be affected by a citation for distracted driving – and what that impact could be – will vary, depending on your insurance company and your policy, so 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 altogether. 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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