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Are distracted drivers driving up auto insurance costs?

Considering that the modern cell phone has its roots in the giant monstrosities we used to call “car phones,” it’s no wonder people get distracted by their phones in the car.

With rear-end collisions leading many lists of “most common insurance claims,” it seems like distracted drivers are holding a lot of the responsibility for increased insurance costs. But what will it take to increase attentiveness and reduce claims?

Here’s what to know about the cost of distracted driving and how to encourage drivers to focus on the road.

The effect of distracted driving on insurance costs

According to one study, distracted drivers cost car insurance companies 160 percent more than drivers who are not distracted. When people take their hand off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind off driving, it’s a recipe for disaster. And using a smartphone does all three of those things.

Anti-distraction apps

Reminding drivers to focus on the road isn’t enough. At this point the media coverage has made the point that distracted driving is dangerous, but many drivers lack the final push to put down the phone and pay attention to the road.

Thankfully, the same device that distracts drivers can help stop the distraction. There are several apps to discourage distracted driving.

Many apps simply disable certain features on the phone (texting, email and others) so that there is no temptation to look at the phone because it beeped (again). Other apps make the communication features easier to use and less distracting. These apps feature voice-activation or large buttons so that the driver who is going to use the phone while driving is able to access the necessary features in a safer way.

Penalties for distraction-related accidents

At the end of the day, money talks. Most drivers believe police won’t catch them texting and driving, so they aren’t worried about getting pulled over, but what about penalties for distraction-related accidents?

Drivers who know that their insurance rates are going to go up if they cause a distraction-related accident are going to have a greater incentive to put down the phone. Even those who insist on driving with a phone in hand will at least put some extra effort into focusing on driving.

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