An interior photo of a person driving a car in a wooded areaChances are, you’re behind the wheel quite frequently, whether to go to work, pick up groceries or drop your kids off at school. While driving is an important aspect of many of our lives, it can also be dangerous without the proper precautions. But it’s not just intoxicated driving that people should avoid—distracted driving can also lead to tragic or undesirable consequences. From texting to eating while driving, here are the many types of distracted driving and how they can impact your auto insurance rates.

Types of Distracted Driving

Did you know that about eight people in the United States die every day in car accidents that involve a distracted driver at the wheel? That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also reported that in 2018, more than 2,800 people died and another 400,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes across the country.

You are probably familiar with the public safety campaigns against texting and driving. Looking at your cell phone while driving completely takes your focus away from what’s happening on the road. When your focus is elsewhere, your ability to make split-second decisions is diminished—potentially leading to an accident. Using any electronic device that is not in hands-free mode while driving is dangerous (and illegal in Massachusetts), but you don’t have to be texting to be distracted.

In fact, using a navigation device or messing with your music is also a distraction, as you become preoccupied with entering an address or playing a song rather than paying attention to the road. Have you ever been on a long road trip only to stop at a fast-food place on the highway? Eating and drinking while driving can also be distracting, as your focus shifts from traffic to how many french fries you have left.

Are you late to an event and didn’t have time to put on mascara? Don’t do it in the car. Activities like applying makeup or shaving are obvious distractions from the road. Unruly kids or passengers can also be a distraction. And if you’re tired, find a place to rest—drowsy driving can have serious consequences for you and others on the road.

Distracted Driving Insurance Impacts

Outside of the potentially deadly consequences of distracted driving, getting a ticket or being in an accident due to unfocused driving can seriously increase your auto insurance rates and have a negative impact on your wallet in general.

The penalties you face if caught distracted driving vary by state. In Massachusetts, a first offense violation of the hands-free driving law carries a penalty of $100. The second offense carries a $250 fine and mandatory completion of a distracted driving course. And subsequent offenses carry a $500 fine along with an insurance surcharge and completion of a distracted driving class.

The additional insurance costs for violating the hands-free law change depending on the policy, but according to the Boston Herald, these extra surcharges can cost anywhere between $100 and $300. If you have an accident due to distracted driving, your auto insurance rates will almost surely skyrocket, as they would for any other accident.

Save on Insurance with Us

We can’t stop anyone from driving while distracted; we can only provide the facts in the hope that people heed our warnings and drive safely. Our team can, however, can work alongside you to find ways in which you may be eligible to save on your auto insurance. Reach out to us online or give us a call at 413-538-7444 to get the coverage you need at a price you can afford.