Distracted Drivers Put Lives in Jeopardy and Cost Consumers

August 17, 2018

Operating a motor vehicle is an essential part of our daily activities. But anything distracting a driver’s attention—phones, food, friends, or control dials—becomes deadly. It takes focus, practice and skill to safely operate a vehicle moving 80 feet per second at 55 mph.

“Approximately 3,500 people in the U.S. are killed each year in fatal accidents involving at least one distracted driver,” said Commissioner Ted Nickel. “Younger drivers and passengers face the highest risk because they’re more likely to be using smartphones.”

Motor vehicle accident fatalities increased over 15 percent from 2015 through 2016, marking the first increase for two consecutive years in the U.S. since 1995.

Consequently, auto insurance premiums also increased. Rates from 2015 were more than 12 percent higher than in 2007, when the iPhone was launched and the smartphone boom began. Experts point to distracted drivers as the cause of more frequent, more expensive accidents, resulting in higher insurance premiums.

“Smart” cars may also be contributing to driver distraction. Today’s advanced vehicles come with an array of electronic safety features, increasing the number of knobs, touch-screens, camera views, warning signals, and navigation devices.

“Innovation and technology have added an amazing amount of comfort and safety features to the driving experience,” continued Commissioner Nickel. “This trend is here to stay and will continue. However, drivers have to take the time to learn how to maneuver these super-computers on wheels before they hit the road. Otherwise, these new safety features become another dangerous distraction.”

Source: Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance

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