Smartphones & Distracted Driving!

Admit it! Most everyone is guilty.  Your phone vibrates or dings while you are driving…you glance over at it.  The question remains, “What do you do with that notification?”  SO, what do you do?  Do you pick it up and read it? Do you open up Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Messenger, GroupMe, LinkedIn, email or any of your other apps and simply check it out?  Do you respond to it?  Many do most likely.  With gas prices down more people are driving and the more the driving there is, the more likely there are distracted drivers on the road.  In Selma, Alabama we beat our own selves up quite a bit.  We think we own the market for bad drivers, but the truth is there are lots of really bad drivers everywhere! And now that the good drivers have smartphones the number of bad drivers is increasing everywhere.

 

Did you know? During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes. – NHTSA.gov

Like many things in our culture, we tend to focus on teenagers and what they do wrong.  Our society spends a great deal of time trying to focus on safe driving for teenagers.  We try to fix them and make sure they do it right just like we do with teen behavior.  After all, they are the worst generation ever.  Check out what someone said,

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

Interestingly enough this quote is attributed to Socrates who died in 399 B.C. over 2400 years ago long before the first smartphone, distracted drivers, and car insurance.  The point is teens are an easy target, but the hard truth is teens learn they are only a small part of the distracted drivers on the road.  You as a parent may say, “You don’t text and drive”, but how true is that?  You know we all do it.  Even if you only do it some, you are still setting an example for your young passengers.  After all, most teens will do in excess what they see their parents do in moderation.  We (talking to myself now mostly) need to show that our smartphone activity is not the main source of entertainment at home or in the car.

As parents, we need to realize we are very connected to our smartphones and learn how to disconnect in a healthy way.  (Social media and smartphones aren’t the devil, but they can tend to be unhealthy)  What keeps your connected to your phone?  Personally, it is its presence right there that draws me to it.  It is like it is permanently attached to my hand…  How do you and I disconnect?  If I move it further away from the bed at night, for whatever reason I sleep better.  If I put it in another room in the house, fairly soon I function quite well without it.  So, how do I disconnect in the car?  Do I put it rest it on a dash magnet of sorts to be able to read the notifications?  Maybe we simply use the Bluetooth in our car or a Bluetooth headset to allow us to talk without having to hold our phone.  Maybe we simply realize the reply can wait, or maybe should call the person instead of texting.  By the way, touchscreen dialing can be very distracting as well.  We all have to search for the contact and then hit the call button.  We all need to learn how to utilize our voice dialing and even voice messaging with our smartphones in order to be better drivers who are less distracted.

Why is this such a big deal?  I can use my smartphone and drive well.  Maybe so, but perhaps the little eyes watching will not have the same luck.  What will that cost you?  What will that cost someone else?  Will the cost simply be the deductible on your car insurance?  Will the cost include damage to someone else’s car or cars?  (Whether you have enough property damage liability coverage on your car insurance is another blog)  We all need to consider the cost of texting and driving, because eventually everyone will feel the financial impact of distracted drivers.  Over the last few years, the personal car insurance industry has seen a significant increase in claims and claims payments.  This is a result of increased distracted driving and the price to repair the modern cars along with increased cost of bodily injury claims.  Many insurance companies have been raising rates the past couple of years significantly.  Thankfully some of the companies we use in our independent insurance agency in Selma have fared very well.  One company we use heavily at The Frazer Group lowered their rates twice in 2016.  

The greatest cost of any distracted driving would be tragedy that follows it.  There is no way to place a value to one’s life and how it matters to their family regardless of their age.  The loss of life is tragic in situations like this, but even when death happens in a “normal” pattern of life it is still very hard.  What is much harder is when life ends way too quickly and it could have been avoided.  This “cost” can never be recuperated.

One of the main purposes of this post is to help us all reduce the unspeakable.  After that, this post is to encourage healthy use of smartphones (talking to myself again), educate us that distracted driving has a price tag for all, encourage parents (like myself) to be a great example in all areas of life, and to realize we have to accept responsibility for our actions and the patterns we have with our smartphones even with limited use while we are driving.  On the parenting part, try this food for thought.  Do as I say, not as I do works well until they become teenagers.

There are lots and lots of resources that serve to help us all with distracted driving, some of which goes beyond smartphones as the culprit.

  1. http://driveithome.org/
  2. https://www.itcanwait.com/
  3. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html

On a practical side, there are apps that will not allow you to text while your car is moving.  (https://www.verizonwireless.com/archive/mobile-living/home-and-family/apps-to-block-texting-while-driving/)  At some point in time in the very near future some insurance companies will have an app that will detect what side of the car you entered and they will then be able to detect if you are using our smartphone while operating your car.  In those cases you would great smartphone habits would probably equal a rate reduction, so they can begin to charge the distracted driver more for their insurance.

On a side note, here at The Frazer Group we want the best for you in life.  We also want to give you the best insurance coverage for your car, home, life insurance, or commercial insurance needs at the best pricing we can offer.  If we cannot help you, we will let you know.  We enjoy being located in Selma, Alabama and we have the ability to provide great professional customer service.  We would love to hear from you.  Thank you for taking time to read this.  We wish you the best!

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