Texting while driving is never a good idea. And that’s an understatement.
While it can be tempting to reach for your phone to answer a text while you’re on the road, the reality is that distracted driving can result in accidents, injuries, and even death.
If you are caught, you could find yourself with a pricey ticket and some big changes to your auto insurance rates. This is why I always recommend pulling over, or waiting until you reach your destination, to reach for your phone.
Here is everything that you should know about distracted driving tickets, how they will affect your auto insurance rates, and how to prevent them.
Do auto insurance rates go up if you receive a “texting while driving” ticket?
The short answer is that, yes, receiving a ticket for texting while driving, often categorized as “distracted driving”, will affect your insurance rates. Exactly how much your rate will increase depends on several different factors, including:
- your driving record.
- your age.
- your car.
- your state.
On average, car insurance rates increase 23% (according to insurance.com) after a ticket for texting while driving.
How it might affect your driving record
Aside from increasing your monthly insurance premium, a ticket for texting while driving can also have serious implications for your driving record. In many states, distracted driving can add violation points to your driving record. The amount of points varies from state to state, but if you receive too many points for distracted driving or other related offenses, you could lose your license.
In some cases, you may be able to offset these points by completing a state-approved defensive driving class. What you may not be able to offset is how future auto insurance companies will see these negative marks and the higher premium you will be quoted because of them.
What if this isn’t your first ticket?
If you’ve received similar tickets in the past for speeding, distracted driving, or other violations, your insurance rates will likely increase more dramatically than mentioned above.
To know for sure how much your rates will go up, get in touch with your insurance agent directly.
Don’t get a ticket? How texting while driving may affect your insurance anyway
Getting a ticket for distracted driving is an easy way to increase your car insurance premiums, but don’t think that you are off scot-free if you did not get caught by the police.
If you participate in your insurer’s safe driving program, you could see your rates go up without ever having been reprimanded for distracted driving. This is because, as part of their safe driving program, many insurance companies track drivers’ cell phone usage. While these programs can lower your rates if you engage in safe driving practices, bad habits like texting while driving can have a negative impact on your rate.
Texting while driving laws vary by state
Different states have varying regulations surrounding distracted driving. Depending on the state, your rates could increase by as little as 12% or as much as 45%.
48 states and U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands currently ban texting while driving. In some cases, drivers aren’t even allowed to use handheld phones to make calls while driving.
Missouri bans texting and driving only for drivers under 21, and Montana has no texting while driving ban. In Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, texting while driving is a secondary law, meaning that you can’t be pulled over for that offense alone, but you can be pulled over for a related offense, such as running a red light, and you can be ticketed for both offenses.
What to do if you receive a ticket for texting while driving
While it’s definitely not ideal to receive a distracted driving ticket, it does happen. Here are some steps you should take if you’re ticketed for using your phone while on the road.
1. Pay your ticket
First and foremost, you need to pay for the ticket you received. The exact amount that you owe will vary based on where you live, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $500.
Some locations allow you to pay for your ticket online, which makes this step extremely easy. In other cases, you may have to make a payment over the phone or by mailing a check. To find out the best way to settle your ticket, check the bottom (or backside) of your ticket.
2. Compare your rates
Again, you can expect your auto insurance rates to go up when you get a distracted driving ticket. However, auto rates do vary between different insurance providers, since different companies weigh various aspects of your driver profile differently.
With this in mind, you should be sure to compare rates from multiple different insurance companies after you get your ticket. If you find a provider with a lower rate, you can switch to them and save yourself some money.
Top auto insurance providers with competitive rates include Liberty Mutual, State Farm, and Allstate.
3. Practice safe driving in the future
In order to prevent yourself from being tempted to pick up your phone while on the road, it’s a good idea to set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” and to commit to waiting to check your messages until you’ve reached your destination. Even during emergency situations, it’s better to be safe and wait to check your phone rather than getting into an accident.
If you use your phone for directions, or to monitor traffic while driving, be sure to set your route and start navigating before you begin to drive. If you need to change course or check where you’re going, pull over before doing so. If you still find yourself tempted to use your phone while behind the wheel, try leaving your phone inside a bag, or purse, on silent. If your phone isn’t close to hand, you’ll be less tempted to check it.
Not only is texting while driving dangerous, but it’s also illegal in most states. If you do text and drive, you could receive a hefty ticket, along with negative points on your driving record.
The best way to avoid receiving a distracted driving ticket is to leave your phone alone when driving, and wait to check your messages until you arrive at your destination. Safe driving can lower your auto insurance premiums and keep you, and others, safe on the road.