The 'Disconnect' Over Distracted Driving

Recent studies show that drivers checking phones or other diversions are much more distracted than they believe, and insurers are taking notice.

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 11:37 AM
Updated: Apr 13, 2018 11:40 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. — While most Oregonians are aware that distracted driving is both unsafe and unwise, recent studies indicate that this awareness hasn't put a stop to the habit. Meanwhile, insurance rates are climbing.

The 2018 Travelers Risk Index found that 85 percent of drivers surveyed agree that distracted driving is a major risk—but almost a quarter of those same people said that they can safely drive while distracted.

Distracted Driving Prevention Tips:

  • Turn off your phone and put it in your glove box while you are driving to avoid the temptation of answering a call or text.
  • If you’re a passenger, hold the driver’s phone.
  • Don’t text or call a friend or loved one if you know they are driving.
  • Add an “app” to your phone, or add a setting to your phone, to automatically reply to calls or messages telling the person by text that you are driving and will contact them when you are no longer behind the wheel.
  • If using a GPS on your phone, plug in the address before you start the car and use a mounted phone holder.
  • Talk to family members, especially teen drivers, about the risks of cell phone use. Model responsible behavior by not using your phone while driving.
  • If you need to call or text someone while driving, ask a passenger to type the text or make the call. If you don’t have passengers, pull off the road in a safe location before using your phone.
  • Don’t eat or drink while driving, and all personal grooming should be done at home and not while driving.
  • Consider installing an app that can disable texting and hold calls while you’re driving.
  • Ask your teen to sign a parent-teen driving contract or agreement that details the promises, rules and consequences of driving so everyone is on the same page. One example of such a contract is available on the CDC’s website.

The same study revealed that 40 percent of drivers admitted to being distracted for 15 minutes per hour on the road. Another 10 percent of respondents said that they were 'frequently distracted' by technology while driving.

According to the NW Insurance Council (NWIC), auto crashes are on the rise—which means insurance rates are as well. The national average for auto insurance expense has climbed from $812 in 2012 to $889 in 2015, from numbers compiled by the Insurance Information Institute (III).

“What we’re seeing, especially with more vehicles on the road traveling for work and leisure, is a rise in crash rates, and as the cost to treat injuries and repair vehicles increases, those crashes are having an impact on the cost of insurance,” said Kenton Brine, NW Insurance Council President.

Costs are rising not purely because of increasing crashes, but from the tickets that result from enforcement of new distracted driving laws. Oregon's Distracted Driving Law just took effect on October 1, 2017.

CLICK HERE for our story on increased distracted driving patrols happening this month in Southern Oregon.

“Insurers also are now able to see if drivers have been cited for, or have caused a collision, while being distracted behind the wheel, which should serve as a wake-up call for drivers who think they can evade an accident, a ticket or insurance consequences,” said Brine.

But the price of distracted driving isn't solely measured in money. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), there were 1,040 crashes between 2012 and 2016 where it was confirmed that a driver was using a cell phone at the time. These crashes produced 19 fatalities and 4,497 injuries, according to ODOT.

It takes a driver 27 seconds to refocus on the road after using a smartphone while driving, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. At 25 mph, a car can travel the length of three football fields in 27 seconds, said a NWIC statement—giving plenty of room for a crash to occur.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 190804

Reported Deaths: 2528
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah37830583
Washington25279229
Marion21739306
Clackamas17107209
Lane12799145
Jackson10716135
Deschutes866973
Umatilla814084
Linn479867
Yamhill441175
Klamath430861
Polk369952
Malheur349861
Josephine330268
Douglas322070
Benton302619
Jefferson216734
Coos204633
Columbia170526
Union144423
Lincoln137020
Wasco137028
Hood River117930
Morrow110015
Crook106520
Clatsop9738
Baker94614
Curry6459
Tillamook6363
Grant5065
Lake4447
Harney3378
Wallowa1825
Gilliam621
Sherman581
Wheeler281
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 3757115

Reported Deaths: 62280
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123542224008
Riverside2990644587
San Bernardino2965144697
San Diego2777593725
Orange2707055005
Santa Clara1188512085
Kern1089931373
Sacramento1041761672
Fresno1016251684
Alameda875851545
Ventura808421011
San Joaquin730091391
Contra Costa68503804
Stanislaus619161055
Tulare49554839
Monterey43563382
San Mateo41844568
San Francisco36616543
Santa Barbara34306453
Solano32752249
Merced31743458
Sonoma29975318
Imperial28352721
Kings22965246
Placer22550290
San Luis Obispo21282260
Madera16439242
Santa Cruz16188206
Marin14034228
Yolo13875209
Shasta12071226
Butte11943199
El Dorado10111112
Napa984981
Sutter9411111
Yuba622146
San Benito604863
Lassen569824
Tehama555358
Nevada470775
Tuolumne412364
Mendocino406149
Humboldt393539
Amador365147
Lake346743
Glenn238125
Colusa223016
Siskiyou218123
Calaveras212153
Inyo142638
Del Norte13678
Mono12804
Plumas7066
Modoc4954
Mariposa4457
Trinity3995
Sierra1120
Alpine880
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