Cell phone ownership and usage have soared in the past decade; consequently, distracted driving has, too, leading Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to state the U.S. has “a national crisis of fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways.”
We’ll help you lower your risk by explaining the dangers of using the phone while driving
and show you how hanging up and driving can keep your car insurance rate from skyrocketing.
Dangers of Driving While Using a Cell Phone
One of the basic skills to continually practice when driving is taking in all the information you can get and filtering it to what’s essential. Most driver’s ed training classes teach S.I.P.D.E., which stands for Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute.
Using a cell phone while driving can interfere with every one of those steps.
Scan: Distracted Driving Leads to Missed Visual Cues
Most of the information you need to drive safely comes through your eyes. If your eyes look elsewhere than on your surroundings and the road before you, you’ll miss things.
If your phone takes even 20% of your scanning from the road, you’ll have less information for your brain to work with. You could easily miss something important.
Identify: Paying Attention to Your Phone Can Lead to Disorientation
If your attention isn’t on the road, you can easily become disoriented and forget where you are and where you’re headed. It’s hard to identify potential threats or problems when you’re not even sure where you are.
When you’re driving in traffic and need to be paying attention to which lane you should be in, this disorientation can cause you to miss an exit or take a risky lane change to make your exit.
Predict: Phone Usage Results in Your Brain Getting Less Information
If you aren’t able to scan effectively and identify efficiently, you’ll automatically predict less accurately. For example, if you missed that the vehicles in front of you are tapping their brakes ahead, you won’t be searching for the information regarding why. And then, you won’t be able to predict that there could be deer or another hazard ahead.
If you can’t predict what could happen, you’re decisive actions can be delayed.
Decide: Distracted Driving Can Make Decisions Ineffective
Decision-making skills are vitally important to workplace success. But decision-making doesn’t just benefit you financially. It can also improve your safety.
The human mind is incredible. When you anticipate through prediction, you can make decisions quickly. However, you could miss a chance to choose or slow down your decision-making process if your attention is split between the road and your phone.
You’ll have difficulty deciding what to do if you are disoriented and don’t know what’s happening around you. Your phone can create this situation if you use it while driving.
Execute: Using a Phone on the Road Leads to Delayed Responses
The worst part about being distracted by your phone is when your response becomes delayed, leading to a dangerous situation. For example, if you didn’t take in the information necessary to anticipate an issue ahead and suddenly realize traffic is stopped in front of you, you won’t have time to execute a safe stop.
Then, you can easily crash, which will cause damage to your car, other vehicles, and potentially yourself and other people. Distracted driving stats indicate that 14% of crashes with a fatality involved cell phone usage. Checking your phone while driving is not worth the risk.
Insurance Impact of Using a Cell Phone While Driving
Your safety is the most important consideration when it comes to using your phone while driving, but there are other implications related to cell phone usage and insurance that you should consider.
Traffic Tickets on Your Record Lead to Higher Rates
Most states have laws against texting while driving. And many city ordinances are in place that make texting and driving an even more serious offense.
If you get a ticket for distracted driving, it could go on your driving record, which will likely result in higher car insurance premiums.
Distracted Driving Incident Claims Means Increased Premiums
Your driving and claims history impacts your car insurance rates more than almost anything else. If your phone usage results in a crash, you can expect you’ll pay far higher premiums for insurance.
Your car insurance provider could refuse to renew your policy if you have several crashes or have a combination of collisions and driving infractions. Then, you may not be able to find coverage in the competitive marketplace.
App Monitoring Programs Can Identify Phone Use and Eliminate Discounts
If you’ve opted into your car insurer’s usage-based program, your insurer may monitor your driving habits through a phone app. If you use your phone while driving, you might lose discounts you had qualified for.
Some car insurance app programs advertise that you won’t be penalized for poor driving habits the app recognizes, but other programs can result in higher premiums. In that situation, your insurance premiums could increase if you use your phone while driving.
Tips for Staying Off Your Phone While Driving
You’re probably used to having your phone instantly accessible all the time, and the desire to check it while driving can be strong. Here are some tips to stay off your phone.
Tip 1 – Turn Off Notifications
If you hear a ding, you know you got a message and will probably want to check it. If you turn your phone on silent, you won’t receive the audio alert, making you less likely to pick up your phone without thinking about it.
Tip 2 – Set an Automatic Reply for When You Drive
You can set your phone to send an automatic reply like, “I’m driving. I’ll respond soon.” Then, your friends will know their message will be acknowledged later, and they can hold off sending you more messages until then.
Tip 3 – Program Your GPS Before You Start
Simply programming your GPS can take your eyes off the road and lead to distracted driving. Additionally, having your phone in your hands to set the GPS makes it much easier to check other things while at it.
Instead, program your GPS to take you to your destination before you put your car in drive.
Tip 4 – Use a Disabling App While Driving
You already know there are apps for increasing productivity and making your life easier. But you may not have realized there are apps to make your driving experience safer.
If you find the desire to check your phone while driving is too strong, you can download an app that disables your ability to use your phone while it senses you’re in a car. This step might seem dramatic, but if it keeps you safe, it will be worth it.
Distracted driving is a significant issue that leads to hundreds of fatalities each year. It can also result in higher insurance premiums, leading to financial strain. Thankfully, you can do something about distracted driving and potentially save a life. Simply follow the tips outlined above, and you’ll be on your way to safer driving.
Melanie Musson writes and researches for the car insurance site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. She’s passionate about helping others understand how to improve their driving experience and safety and save money on insurance as a result.