Despite numerous innovations in auto and road safety, car collisions are increasing by the fastest pace in 50 years.
Car crash deaths jumped a huge 14 percent from 2014 to 2016. It is shocking that 40,200 people lost their lives in auto wrecks last year. Pedestrian deaths skyrocketed during that time period by an incredible 22 percent.
The reason? You guessed it: distracted driving.
This conclusion is not based merely upon my observations as an injury lawyer. The insurance industry has identified distracted driving as the catalyst for this alarming trend. In fact, texting and driving has had such a tremendous impact on the industry’s profits that insurance companies are finally jumping on board to combat the crisis.
Texting Drivers Cost You Money
There are obvious repercussions to the increased level of distracted driving crashes. You are more likely to be involved in an accident and more likely to sustain a serious injury. That is a good enough reason to ban the practice.
But in addition to putting your life at risk, did you know that texting drivers are also costing you money? You pay for texting while driving accidents, even if you aren’t actually in a collision, through your increased auto insurance premiums.
Insurance works by spreading risk over all policyholders. You pay money into a pool from which you may make a withdrawal only every 5, 10 or 20 years when you file an accident claim. During that period other drivers ideally file claims at a similar rate.
If the number of claims remains low, so do your premiums. However, with increased claims, everybody’s premiums necessarily must increase to make up for the larger payouts. Insurance companies aren’t going to absorb the costs of paying for more accidents; they pass those costs on to you.
When lawmakers and Dallas radio hosts argue about personal liberty and problems with enforcement, they miss the point. Sure, banning texting while driving means some people lose the “right” to put others at risk, but those others are currently being denied the right to safety, and are even being forced to pay the costs themselves through higher premiums. No one has any trouble wearing seat belts or obeying speed limits. It’s the same thing.
Are Lawmakers as Oblivious as Texting Driver?
Only a little over a month ago, 13 seniors were killed when a pickup driver slammed into their church van just outside of San Antonio, Texas. A photo of the crash appears above. Witnesses called police before the fatal collision to complain about the swerving pickup truck. The 20-year-old man admitted to be texting for 15 minutes before crossing the center line and crashing his truck into the van at 65 mph head-on.
Two weeks after this tragedy, the Texas House again passed a bill that would ban texting while driving statewide. However some lawmakers seemed oblivious to the fresh grief caused by the latest fatal texting while driving crash and vehemently argued against passage of the bill. They are wrong to do so.
Next stop is the Senate and then (God willing) the governor’s desk for approval.
We must make our highways safer. Our lives depend on it.