The Cell Phone’s Effect on Your Auto Insurance
Many people have taken to talking or texting on their cell phones while behind the wheel. While this may be convenient, it is a highly dangerous action and is something that lawmakers, including President Barack Obama, are working to ban.
The accidents this action can cause could not only increase your auto insurance premiums, but endanger the lives of everyone on the road, which is why before you take your next excursion with a cell phone in hand, its good to take a closer look at the cell phones effect on driving.
The Deal with Distracted Driving
There has been a lot of noise made in recent months about the effects of distracted driving and its most widely-blamed culprit, the cell phone. Studies have shown just how important it is to keep your focus on the road when behind the wheel and what happens when you choose your cell phone over safety.
According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), distracted driving caused close to 6,000 fatalities in 2008. And in a National Safety Council (NCS) study, it was determined that cell phone use or texting is responsible for almost 28 percent of car accidents each year.
As a result of statistics like these, many have pushed for a ban on the use of handheld mobile devices, recommending that use of any type of communication device be hands-free, like Bluetooth headsets. However, a recent AAA study found that hands-free mobile use is no safer than hand-held and thus every type of device should be banned.
In states like New York, Connecticut, California as well as Washington, D.C, a cell phone ban has already been established. Even more, Obama and other lawmakers are pushing to make the ban into a federal law. Even celebrities like Oprah Winfrey have gotten in on the campaign.
Cell Phone Bans Currently Enacted or On the Table
As mentioned previously, some states have already banned some form of cell phone use while driving. Here is a breakdown of the types of bans in effect and which states have enacted them, according the Governors Highway Safety Association:
- Handheld cell phones: California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while behind the wheel. If caught using a handheld cell phone in these areas, primary enforcement is allowed, which means an officer may cite you without any other traffic offense taking place.
- Text messaging: 20 states, as well as the D.C. and Guam have banned text messaging for all drivers. Primary enforcement is allowed in 15 of the states, as well as D.C. and Guam.
- All cell phone use: No state currently has a ban on the use of all types of cell phones (handheld and hands-free) for all drivers. However, 21 states and D.C. ban all cell use by novice drivers and 17 states as well as D.C. ban cell phone use by school bus drivers when passengers are present.
In addition to current bans, some other states have started cracking down on texting while driving for 2010. And as recent as January, the federal government banned texting for large truck drivers who are behind the wheel.
Also, Congress members have called for laws that would prohibit driving while talking on cell phones. Lawmakers have noted that the legislation would require states to put provisions in place to limit driver distractions. If the states didnt comply, they would lose 25 percent of their annual federal highway funding.
Many Drivers Dont Take the Bans Seriously
While the bans are in place and more legislation is on the table for passing, they dont seem to make a huge difference in the driving habits of people who are determined to keep using their cell phones while behind the wheel.
Maybe one of the laws should include a huge hike in auto insurance rates, or worse, a punishment similar to that of a DUI to ensure that drivers understand just how dangerous it is to drive while talking and the cell phone or texting.
There is no doubt that using a cell phone in any capacity has had a dangerous effect on driving. So the next time you want to get behind the wheel with your cell phone, remember the War on Drugs campaign motto from the ’80s and “Just Say No.”