Are car insurance rates affected by texting tickets?
Due to a high number of fatal accidents among young people, legislation involving texting while driving has become a new battleground for many state legislatures. Senators and congressional members have passed legislation in no fewer than 34 states specifically dealing with distracted driving.
In 31 of the 34 states with texting bans, texting while driving is a primary offense, meaning an officer can ticket a driver for this violation alone. In other states, officers are allowed to ticket if the driver is pulled over for some other violation such as speeding.
Although some congressional members oppose text ban legislation, claiming that it will not solve the problem of distracted driving, the majority of people surveyed agree that this danger should be addressed. Car insurance companies have been watching the debate keenly, and many insurers are currently restructuring their policies to reflect how their companies will handle this particular traffic violation.
Texting and Driving Facts
In 2008, the Federal Communications Commission published its “Texting While Driving” guide, based in part on statistics and information obtained from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The NHTSA stated that the rate of fatal car accidents due to texting was as high as 16 percent of all traffic fatalities. At least half a million injuries occur each year due to distracted driving, as well.
Car Insurance and Texting
Car insurance companies have been quick to note that this will mean increased costs for them in the form of more liability claims and repairs, so it is not surprising that these companies are rushing to create policy to keep up with the technology. It is not unreasonable to expect that within the next two to three years, most insurance companies will treat a “texting while driving” or “distracted driving” ticket in much the same way as a reckless driving ticket is currently treated. Although different companies are at different points in this process, common sense says that any insurance company is going to eventually apply strict penalties for someone deliberately taking a high risk with his or her life and the lives of others on the road.
Currently, most texting laws provide only for a ticket for the offending driver, and in some cases the fine is less than that of a parking violation. There are still some states that have no cell phone or text bans at all. However, more state legislatures are feeling significant pressure to pass legislation banning the use of cell phones or mobile devices while driving, so it is likely that soon all states will have some form of this legislation. Efforts to pass a federal law in this regard has not met with much success, as most federal congressional representatives prefer to delegate this type of legislation to the states themselves.
In most states, texting while driving is considered a misdemeanor traffic violation carrying with it a fine of between $50 and $200, depending on the number of times you have been ticketed for the offense. Young people under the age of 21 are most vulnerable to the new text legislation; a driver with a learner’s permit may lose the right to get a full drivers license for up to a year if caught texting in some states. Fully-licensed drivers under 21 may lose their license for a specified period of time if caught texting behind the wheel.
Texting citations generally remain on your driving record for up to five years. During this time, your insurance company may raise your rates just as if you had a reckless driving infraction or a speeding ticket. Texting citations can also have a compound effect; if you already have one or two other traffic violations then receive a texting citation, your insurance company may be more likely to raise your rates than if you had one isolated ticket.
It is important to remember that if your state writes separate charges for each violation, your insurance company may actually view this as multiple traffic infractions, even if the tickets were given at the same time. For example, if you were pulled over and received a speeding ticket as well as a texting ticket, your insurance company could view this as two traffic violations with a one-year period, and may hike your rates accordingly.
The only way to avoid any kind of car insurance increase from a texting and driving ticket is by putting your phone down while they keys in. Not only will you reduce the chances of a ticket but also possibly prevent personal injury to others and may even find a peaceful moment in the time away from your phone.
Don’t text and drive.