The Costs of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is deadly. Everyone knows it's dangerous. So why do we still do it?

Man texting and drivingTexting, taking a call, putting on makeup while behind the wheel, or even messing with the radio when driving, can all lead to a crash in seconds. At 55 miles per hour, the average activity takes your eyes off the road long enough to travel the length of a football field — blind. While the dangers of distracted driving are well known, most people refuse to believe an accident will happen to them because they think they can safely multitask.

But unfortunately, they’re wrong. 

In 2019, 1,002 people died in traffic accidents on our state roads. That equates to one death every nine hours according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But not only can distracted driving cost lives, but it can also cost you more when it comes to your insurance. 

Texting while driving is against the law in South Carolina. Even if there isn't an accident from your distracted driving, your insurance premium could take a hit if you are cited for such behavior. Citations for distracted driving can result in hefty fines and higher car insurance rates depending on the type of citation and your carrier. 

If your distracted driving causes an accident, it’s fair to say you can guarantee that you'll see your insurance premium go up. Insurance companies will look at the cause of the accident, and if they can prove that a distraction on your part took place that caused the accident, they will take that into consideration when reviewing your premium. Distracted driving shows that you are not a safe driver, meaning you are more likely to be in an accident and thus, you are more expensive to insure. 

Keep in mind, that while there are a host of discounts for teen drivers, an accident tied to distracted driving could wipe them all out. So you wouldn’t only see a hike in your premium due to your poor driving choices, but you could also see those discounts disappear. If you’re a parent of a teen driver, take a moment to review our guide on how to talk to your teen about distracted driving and then sit down with your teen and go over the dangers and risks associated with driving before handing them the keys. This important conversation saves lives and could save you money. 

How can you turn your behavior around and save money?

Maintaining a good driving record is the best way to lower your insurance premiums and keep them low. But there are some extra things you can do to not only lower your premiums but also help develop healthy and safe driving habits. 

One way is through telematics. Telematics is a method used to collect information about your driving habits. Insurers may use telematics data to offer personalized driving feedback and safe-driving rewards or discounts on your car insurance policy. Telematics may also come into play if your insurer offers mileage-based insurance policies (sometimes called "pay-per-mile insurance").

Your driving data is typically captured by a mobile app or a small telematics device provided by your insurance company (this should work in vehicles produced after 1996) or sometimes the data can be captured directly through your car manufacturer. You should check with your insurance agent or company to see what options they provide their auto insurance customers. 

There are a host of apps that you can download on your phone that help ward off distracted driving or that helps you track your teen’s behavior behind the wheel. One such app that helps thwart unwanted distractions is OnMyWay*. This app is unique as it offers monetary incentives for keeping your eyes on the road. Not only does it pay you for every mile you drive and don’t text, but it also disables text or app alerts when you are driving over 10mph. It will send an automotive response to text messages and once you are stopped you will be able to respond.

For more information and resources on distracted driving, visit our website.


*While this is not an official endorsement by the SCDOI for the app, it is a tool that you can use to keep our roads safer.