September 28, 2009

Alert Drivers Act To Affect Auto Insurance Rates If Passed

Members of Congress are currently looking at a new bill that would restrict text messaging while driving. The Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers (ALERT) Act would encourage states to make it illegal for drivers to text while driving. Distracted driving plays a part in an estimated 80 percent of all accidents. The most common way for a driver to be distracted is by using their cell phones, whether talking or texting. Distracted driving also plays a large part in many “near-miss” accidents that take place on the road. The prevalence of electronic devices for causing accidents is causing lawmakers take a second look at the legality of having access to these devices while driving. Many electronic devices are becoming hands-free, which reduces their impact on distracted driving, but texting will always involve the use of hands and therefore contribute significantly to distracted driving.

Car accidents affect every driver in the United States. Because drivers are required to carry auto insurance, when car accidents go up, so does the average auto insurance rate. Even responsible drivers who do not use their cell phones while driving will see an increase in auto insurance rates as a result of others who text and drive. The common occurrence of accidents involving distracted driving results in an increased amount of auto insurance claims, ultimately causing insurance companies to raise premiums to cover the costs.

The ALERT Act will work to combat distracted driving, and at the same time will effectively lower the occurrence of car accidents. In addition to preventing a rise in the average insurance cost, individual auto insurance rates are directly related to the policyholders driving history. By prohibiting the use of cell phones, drivers will be involved in fewer accidents eventually lowering their insurance cost based on an improved driving record. The fewer infractions drivers have, the lower the cost of their auto insurance.

With technology becoming more prevalent in society every day, it seems it would be a good idea for every state to adopt this law. States that choose to comply can make texting while driving either a primary or a secondary offense. A primary offense means that a driver can be pulled over simply for texting while driving. A secondary offense means a driver can only be cited if they were pulled over for a primary offense. However, states refusing to make distracted driving a punishable offense would lose 25 percent of their federal funding for highways. States will have two years to comply with the federal guidelines before they would lose funding for their highways.

The ALERT Act will have a positive impact on drivers nationwide who choose to put down their cell phones while driving.