Texting and driving seems to get a lot of attention these days, even if those behind the wheel aren’t paying much attention at all. With 46 states having some form of limit on texting and driving, it’s definitely a hot-button national conversation. Texas has a lot to say about it.
Texas isn’t just any other state. We like to do things our way. After all, we were our own nation once. So when the Lone Star State passed House Bill 62, a statewide ban on texting and driving, the whole country took notice. With the bill signed into law by Governor Abbott earlier this month, September 1, 2017 marks the official day law enforcement will keep a watch for violators. With the likelihood of HB 62 affecting your auto-insurance rates, the eyes of Texas insurance carriers are upon us as well.
Law of the Land
After several attempts in recent years to get a statewide ban on texting and driving off the ground, Texas Congress saw House Bill 62 take flight earlier this June.
With a statewide law on the books enforcing penalties for texting while driving combined with the population of Texas, expect more distracted drivers to make an impact on auto insurance rates. In 2016 there were 109,658 crashes in Texas involving distracted drivers with an additional 455 fatalities and 3000 serious injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting and driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash.
HB 62 bans drivers from texting in a moving vehicle and makes it a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine ranging from $25 to $99 (with penalties up to $200 for repeat offenders).
As a result of the new law, texting and driving falls under a separate category. Because insurers look at a variety of an insured person’s driving behavior, a citation for texting and driving will only hurt and not help a driver’s insurability. If an accident occurs and texting and driving played a role in the collision, it will constitute a separate charge, once again, adding a separate negative mark on your insurability. This is fuel to feed the fire of an insurance carrier’s denial. Texting and driving can now play a major role in their desire to underwrite your insurance.
Driver Texting Behavior Unlikely To Change
Because texting and driving still comes down to a personal choice and since technology and manpower is unable to detect every violation, texting and driving will continue to occur. This could lead to more accidents as violators keep their devices lower, causing them to take their eyes off the road even more than necessary. In some cases, accidents were seen to increase when legislation prohibited texting and driving. Those who want to break the law will continue to break the law. It is naïve to expect HB 62 to change driver behavior in a comprehensive way.
Insurance Carriers Want Safe Drivers
Insurance Carriers favor limiting texting and driving. The less claims, the better. But since driver behavior may or may not curtail the amount of accidents, rates can rise.
Living in Texas has privileges. However, risk widens in our large state from the gulf to the panhandle. You may not think you have a choice on the matter of whether your rates go up, but you do.
When it comes to the question of, “Can this text wait?” you’re the best person to answer that question.
Be careful out there, Texas.