Busted While Texting and Driving? Your Insurance Rates Will Go Up

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Imagine adding hundreds of dollars a year to your auto insurance premiums.

CCIG’s Sherry Bernard.

Now imagine having to pay those higher premiums for three or four years in a row.

Or, worse yet, imagine getting dropped by your insurance company and then having to sign up with a carrier no one’s ever heard of.

All of that is what’s in store for any Colorado driver ticketed under the state’s new anti-texting and driving law.

The law covers more than just text messaging. A ticket could be issued for any sort of interaction with a smartphone screen “in a manner that caused the operator to drive in a careless and imprudent manner.”

Signed into law in early June by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the law increased the penalty for texting while driving from $50 to $300.

But that’s not the worst of it. A violation will now result in four points on a driver’s license instead of just one point.

That’s where the real pain begins, with premiums jumping by hundreds of dollars a year depending on a driver’s record. Those points stay on your record for several years.

Related: Telematics – The Road to Lower Auto Premiums

Critics of the new law say that, in fact, it makes texting while driving legal under certain circumstances. But police and legal experts say the law merely made texting while stopped in traffic — on the side of the road or at a stop light — permissible. An officer who sees a driver typing on their phone and driving carelessly can cite that driver.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, eight people are killed each day in crashes involving distracted driving.

While lawmakers across the nation have passed all kinds of anti-texting laws, phone companies are just now beginning to respond to the problem.

Apple recently announced it will introduce a new iPhone feature called “Do Not Disturb While Driving.” The phone will withhold any notifications for things like text messages or news updates whenever the car is moving.

The iPhone screen will also be locked to prevent drivers from accessing most of their apps while driving, with the exception of Apple’s navigation application.

Carmakers also are responding. Nissan, for example, is thinking of adding a so-called Faraday cage to its cars. This would be a box built into the car that would block radio transmissions of any kind from reaching the phone.

Sherry Bernard is a CCIG personal lines account manager. Reach her at SherryB@thinkccig.com or 720-330-7906.