Distracted driving causes insurance premiums to soar

Distracted driving causes premiums to soar.

BOISE - We've all seen it while we're out driving - the driver next to you talking on their phone or texting.

Here's a wake-up call about the price of distracted driving: Even if you're not that person who's distracted behind the wheel, the driver in the next lane checking emails is making the cost of car insurance soar for everyone.

Law enforcement officials in the Treasure Valley say they're seeing more and more cases of distracted driving.

"Sometimes it's very simple," said Boise police Sgt. Erik Tiner. "We can actually pull up next to them and we can actually see their bubble screens going up while they're texting."

Tiner says it's not only texting.

"Add that to people that are just talking on their phones, talking to people in the car with them," Tiner said.

He says if you're distracted while driving, you could end up in a dangerous, even deadly, situation.

"Accidents happen in seconds," said Tiner. "You take your eyes off the road for just a second to look at something else and that's when it's going to happen."

Dangerous habits behind the wheel are causing more accidents nationwide, and driving insurance premiums through the roof. Whether you abide by the law or not, your wallet takes the hit.

"If you're these insurance companies and you're the ones having to pay the cost of all these accidents, you're going to pass that on to your customers - which is all of us," Tiner said.

Officials say the average insurance premium has jumped 16 percent to $926 a year since 2011.

"We're talking about a generation that was texting first, driving second," said Chris Mullen, director of Technology Research with State Farm. "When they get behind the wheel, it's going to be hard to break that habit and get them driving safely from the get go."

Tiner says it's not just teens that are distracted while driving.

"Most of the drivers in the Valley are not the millennials, they're older drivers," Tiner said. "And we see them using the phones just as much as the millennials."

According to State Farm, 36 percent of all drivers text and drive, ultimately costing everyone. 

Experts say to reduce premiums you can take a defensive driving course, opt for a higher deductible, or shop around for a better insurance rate.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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