Survey Shows ‘Promising’ Results in Distracted Driving Battle

Most teen passengers say they speak up about distracted driving, and doing so usually stops the dangerous roadway habit, according to a newly released survey from State Farm and Harris Interactive.

The insurer and research firm have partnered on several national surveys about young motorists and distracted driving. The latest survey, conducted at the end of July with 650 14- to 18-year-olds across the U.S., showed that 3 out of every 4 teenage respondents said they had mentioned to drivers that they were distracted and that 84 percent of drivers stopped their behavior when told.

Chris Mullen, State Farm director of technology research, called the results “very promising.”

The survey found that 34 percent of those surveyed had texted behind the wheel. That signifies a drop from a separate State Farm survey of 652 teens published in April in which 57 percent of respondents reported texting while driving.

Still More Work Ahead

But the survey still found that there’s work to be done to change teens’ attitudes about their skills behind the wheel.

Of those surveyed who did not call a driver on their distracted driving, a near-majority of respondents (48 percent) said it was because they believed the driver could manage the distraction. But safety advocates have long been publicly pushing research showing that using a cell phone while driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving.

“More education and conversations need to occur so teens understand that no one can handle driving distracted,” Mullen said.

The survey also found that 3 out of every 4 teen drivers believe they will get through their first year of driving without collisions, with half of those respondents stating that they “strongly disagree” that they’ll get into a car crash during that period.

However, research cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that crash risk is especially high during a teen driver’s first year of eligibility.

Insurance Implications of Distracted Driving 

Whether or not a motorist slapped with a distracted-driving violation has a harder time obtaining affordable car insurance depends on whether violation points are attached to a violation and how the insurer providing a quote takes such violations into account.

But one thing’s for sure, politicians and law enforcement are using more laws and fines to combat what they see as a major public safety issue.

In Idaho, SB 1274 went into effect last month, prohibiting drivers from texting behind the wheel. The violation is considered a primary offense, meaning police suspecting a violation can pull over a driver and cite them for that reason alone.

The recent texting ban in Ohio classifies the violation as a secondary offense, meaning police can only cite a driver for the violation in addition to another primary violation.

Neither state imposes penalties that can jack up the price of insurance coverage, such as categorizing the offense as a moving violation.

However, recent laws in Alabama and West Virginia barring texting behind the wheel impose point-based penalties on a driving record. Alabama charges two points with each offense while West Virginia enforces a three-point penalty on a third offense.

Such penalties can be seen by insurance companies and lead to higher rates, but whether or not prices rise depends on the insurer.

Parents of teen drivers already face higher-than-average rates because new drivers don’t have the luxury of driving history that insurers use to base rates on, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), which added that building a good driving history is a surefire way for teenagers to bring down their insurance rates.

About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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