Author: Ryan Wind, Mechanicsville Personal Injury Attorney
Many Virginians have noticed a steady increase in their auto insurance rates the past few years even though they have made no claims. While not directly a result of your performance as a driver, the reason for these higher premiums comes from your increasing probability of being involved in a collision.
The higher frequency of collisions is linked to several specific factors, all of which contribute to your climbing insurance costs:
There are More Cars on the Roads
According to the latest data provided by a CNN study, a record-setting 17.6 million new cars were sold during 2016. The number of traffic fatalities, which grew by 6% and reached a 10-year high in 2016, has increased at approximately the same rate as auto sales, meaning that more vehicles on the roads result in more crashes.
Drivers are Traveling Longer Distances
With gas prices at their lowest since 2009, drivers are turning to the convenience of auto travel for commutes and vacations once again. The Federal Highway Administration has determined that US drivers collectively traveled over 3.2 trillion miles in 2016, setting an historic new record. Greater time spent on the roads increases the chances of your vehicle being involved in a collision.
Distracted Driving is a Growing Problem
Electronic devices like our car stereos, navigation systems, and mobile phones provide a constant siren-song of distraction. Distractions such as these claimed the lives of 3,477 people in 2015 alone.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 660,000 Americans are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving at any given daytime moment. However, these devices are not alone in contributing to our distractions.
Every time a driver tends to an irritable child, adjusts air conditioning or heating, applies make up, talks to passengers, eats, or reads a map (paper or electronic), the driver is engaging in a distracting task or activity. The data collected by the NHTSA supports the argument that every distraction can compromise a driver’s ability to some extent and threaten the safety of that driver, other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in the vicinity.
More Drivers are Operating Vehicles While Drowsy or Fatigued
A NHTSA study of inattentive drivers found that being drowsy or sleep-deprived behind the wheel was nearly as dangerous as being intoxicated while driving, and that the number of drivers who operated a vehicle while drowsy had reached 83 million per day in 2015. That same study reported the total number of fatalities as a result of inattentive and drowsy driving had increased nearly 10% in one year.
What Can You Do to Reduce Your Chances of a Crash?
While you cannot control the actions of other drivers, you can help to reduce your own likelihood of causing a collision by following these guidelines:
- Car pool or use public transportation when you are able. Reducing the number of vehicles on the roads reduces the probability of a crash.
- Lump errands and other driving activities together to decrease your overall mileage. The less you drive, the less you expose yourself to the dangers of a collision.
- Focus on the road. Adjust your radio or GPS while parked, eliminate unnecessary distractions, and concentrate on safely reaching your destination. Do not text and drive.
- Get enough rest. If you know you will have to drive, be sure to prepare in advance with adequate sleep so that you can maintain your reaction time and your mental focus.
With statistical data conveying the sad news that the number of car crashes in Virginia is growing, defensive driving is more important than ever. Ensuring that you operate your vehicle using safe practices like these can help to reduce your risk of causing a collision and can help prevent future increases in your insurance rates due to claims.