Drivers Concur with Auto Insurance Cos. on Texting While Driving

Attractive Blonde Woman Text Messaging on Her Cell Phone While Driving.Various auto insurance companies and government transportation departments have espoused serious concerns over the dangers of texting while driving, and a new Rasmussen poll indicates that many adults are getting the message. In a nationwide survey of 1,000 adults, 94 percent said that they opposed texting behind the wheel. Whether or not this is affecting their behavior, though, is up for debate.

In addition, the poll results indicate that Americans are becoming less supportive of using cell phones in general while driving. A 2008 poll had 53 percent of respondents opposing cell phone use in the car and 39 percent in favor of allowing the practice. Now two years later, the new Rasmussen poll shows 66 percent saying that drivers shouldn’t be allowed to use a cell phone while driving and only 29 percent saying that it’s OK.

But despite the overwhelming opposition to texting while driving that is reflected in the poll results, other reports show that a large proportion of the driving public still sends texts from the driver’s seat.

Just yesterday the Insurance Research Council distributed a press release announcing the results of a new study showing that, of 1,400 respondents, nearly one in five reportedly had sent a text while driving in the past 30 days. And other reports on the topic have shown that more than one in three drivers admit to having texted at some point from behind the wheel. Also, that number gets even higher when looking strictly at younger drivers.

To combat this practice, 38 states and the District of Columbia have instituted whole or partial texting bans, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

But the IIHS also reported recently in its Status Report Newsletter that, after surveying loss data in a number of states, it appeared that the bans had no significant affect on crash rates. The U.S. Department of Transportation dismissed this report, saying that the bans can be effective when coupled with effective enforcement.

Although many states now issue citations to drivers messaging behind the wheel, these citations generally do not affect the violator’s ability to secure cheap auto insurance rates, since they generally do not go on a driver’s permanent record.

However, Massachusetts recently instituted a new law under the provisions of which a driver can be surcharged by an insurer if an accident caused by negligent phone use leads to property or bodily damage. Whether other states will follow suit has yet to be seen.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

One Response to “Drivers Concur with Auto Insurance Cos. on Texting While Driving”

  1. Erik Wood
    11. Nov, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    I think we live in a culture where business people need to ‘hit the ball over the net’. Teens consider it rude not to reply immediately to texts. Home schedules would grind to a halt without immediate communication. We are conditioned to pursue this level of efficiency but we are all supposed cease this behavior once we sit in our respective 5,000 pound pieces of steel and glass. Anyone can win an argument in a forum like this by saying “Just put the phone away” – but we can see its just not happening.

    I just read that 72% of teens text daily – many text more 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.

    I decided to do something about it after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple app for smartphones. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app

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