Distracted Driving Awareness Month: What Rising Costs of Vehicle Accidents Tell Us About Safe Driving

Did you know that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month? Keeping drivers safe behind the wheel is important for everyone on the road. Due to increasing mobility, there are millions of people driving for work every day. As a result of more drivers on the roads, the number of vehicle accidents and injuries have reached record high levels. What’s even more alarming? 40% of vehicle accidents are work-related. While costs of vehicle accidents are rising, there are few greater indicators of this hazardous trend than the projected increase of auto insurance costs.

As we know, all car owners are required by law to carry insurance. The cost of insurance is determined by insurance companies who use records of your driving history to estimate the amount you pay (monthly, quarterly, etc.). Ultimately, it’s decided by a number of variables, but essentially the less risky your driving behavior, the less likely you are to be in an accident. Sometimes, even when a driver isn’t at fault for an accident, their insurance rates increase.

Insurance companies cover the costs of vehicle accidents. For example, damages to another vehicle if you’re found at fault in an accident or damages to your car if you’ve been hit by someone who doesn’t have insurance. It’s important to remember that insurance companies are still for-profit companies. This means that, ideally, they pay out less for accidents than they take in from people who pay for their insurance. When insurance companies pay out more than they collect, they’re considered “in the red.” Unfortunately, they have been trending in the red, almost guaranteeing they raise their rates to offset the cost. This recent trend has been driven by a number of factors:

Costs of vehicle accidents are on the rise.

The costs of vehicle accidents are on the rise for a few reasons, one, in particular, is the advance of technology. For example, though their primary function is to keep drivers safe, airbags are less than kind to the vehicles they’re deployed in. Saving lives is well worth the cost—but when airbags are deployed, repair bills go up rapidly. Additionally, new tech like sensors on vehicle’s bumpers and back up cameras are becoming standard features. An unintended result of this is the growing repair costs of fender benders and unfortunate brake failures. Each of these point to a destined increase in insurance rates, but keep in mind, this has to be considered together with the cost of health care.

Hospitals aren’t getting any cheaper. While recent advances in medical technology help save lives, they do so at a higher cost. As the rate of accidents increases, the expense of bodily injury also accelerates. This raises the cost burden associated with more serious accidents, particularly on the shoulders of insurance companies rather than those actually responsible.

Accidents are happening more often.

Speaking of those responsible, the increased frequency of accidents can be pinned on a few rising factors. One of the most worrisome trends is distracted drivers. If it’s not texting, then it could be eating or taking a call or any other number of distractions. Laws prohibit texting statewide, but 42% of U.S. drivers admit to reading a text message or email while driving (key word being admit).

And traffic isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Paying attention solely to the road appears to be a thing of the past, as is rural living. With lower unemployment rates, traffic has increased in urban areas. Combine that influx of cars on the road with more distracted drivers, then multiply it by the increasing vehicle accident costs and it’s no wonder insurance rates are projected to keep rising.

What can a company do to ensure their mobile employees are safe on the roads? As an employee, if you aren’t buckling your seat-belt or driving with airbags, start with that. And for the employer, part of fixing the problem is identifying where there is one in the first place. Find out more about liability, problem drivers and how to enact safe driving practices in the next blog in this series!

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Ben Reiland

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