Taking your eyes off the road when driving, even for a moment, can result in injury, property damage, and even death. It can also put a dent in your auto insurance if you get a ticket or cause an accident.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the State Corporation Commission's Bureau of Insurance reminds commuters to keep your eyes on the road to save lives and property -- and keep auto insurance costs down.
Eight out of 10 traffic accidents in Virginia are related to a distracted driving incident, according to DRIVE SMART Virginia, a non-profit organization charged with raising awareness and changing behavior in order to improve the safety of Virginia's roadways.
Motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted drivers result in an estimated 3,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries in the United States annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Texting is a major culprit when it comes to distracted driving. When you text and drive, you are 23 times more likely to be in an accident, according to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. However, anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road can cause distracted driving. Reaching for an object, eating, talking on the phone (hand-held or hands-free), applying makeup, reading, and adjusting clothing are just a few of the many other behaviors that distract drivers and increase their likelihood of being involved in a crash.
Insurance companies may increase your insurance premium for traffic violations or automobile accidents where you, a member of your household, or other customary operator of the vehicle was either wholly or partially at fault. This extra charge may be applied for as long as three years. In some cases, an insurance company may refuse to renew your auto insurance policy if you have even one ticket or accident that is your fault.
Your driving record can affect not only your insurance, but the insurance policies of other members of your household. Even if they are on a different policy, they can be non-renewed because of your driving record. So remember, pay extra attention to keep your eyes on the road and the reason you're behind the wheel.
For more information regarding distracted driving and other driver safety topics, visit the DRIVE SMART Virginia website at www.drivesmartva.org.
For more information on the State Corporation Commission's (SCC) Bureau of Insurance, call the Bureau toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at (804) 371-9741 or visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi.