ARE ‘WIRED’ CARS MAKING DRIVING LESS SAFE AND CAUSING AUTO INSURANCE TO RISE?

The rise of smart technology in our lives and its appearance in many new car models surround one basic thought: Is all of this technology making it less safe to drive?

As you might expect, the answer is much more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” While empirical evidence has determined that automobile-related deaths are on the rise in the U.S., it’s not as easy to categorically prove that this is due to smart dashboard interfaces in cars or app use by drivers.

NSC report notes increases in fatalities & injuries
Auto accident fatalities are on the rise. According to the latest report on motor-vehicle deaths by the National Safety Council (NSC), a national nonprofit organization, 2016 saw a 6% increase to reach 40,200 fatalities. This is the second consecutive year with such an uptick ─ 2015’s figure of 37,757 deaths was a 7% increase from 2014 ─ and also represented the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 Americans died as a result of car accidents.

The New York Times, a national newspaper, reported on the heels of the NSC’s fatalities data release, speaking to leaders of safety advocacy organizations to glean their take on the issue. Jonathan Adkins, who heads the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association, stated that drivers using smartphone apps while operating vehicles definitely played a role in distracted driving crashes and deaths. However, he wouldn’t refer to it as the primary cause.

Safety advocates and federal officials both believe that lax enforcement of impaired driving and seatbelt use laws – and a steady rate of occurrence of these unsafe behaviors ─ remain the biggest contributors to the current auto fatalities rate.

According to the newspaper, only 18 states have laws requiring all occupants to wear a seatbelt. And in some states, like New Hampshire, seatbelts aren’t required for drivers 18 and older, even though nearly half of all auto deaths involve at least one person not wearing a seatbelt.

A greater frequency of accidents will eventually cause auto insurance premiums to go up even if you’re a responsible driver. This can occur no matter what features are in cars ─ or even if driverless cars hit the nation’s highways. Nonetheless, following the best safety practices while driving is common sense.

Will a “wired” car make a difference?
If you use apps for navigation or entertainment, consider finding out if your vehicle is compatible with platforms that let you control such apps through the dashboard, like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. In theory, looking at the dash will take your eyes away from the road less frequently than handling your phone itself.

However, these auto features aren’t necessarily a cure-all for safety. According to a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, a research organization supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, texting while driving doubles the reaction times of motorists, potentially leading to knee-jerk maneuvers and accidents. These accidents occurred whether drivers texted manually or used voice-to-text apps, as both cause cognitive distraction and adversely affect driving.

Sometimes drivers want to take phone calls while on the road. If this is the case for you, hands-free Bluetooth systems for your smartphone or integrated systems like CarPlay are definitely better options than physically operating the device. But you’ll be safest pulling over to take calls, or telling your co-workers, friends or family in advance not to call while you’re driving.

Expect auto insurance rates to rise due to the uptick in claim activity and contact RC4 Insurance Agency, LLC  to get the best value for your commercial and personal insurance needs.

Finally, always keep your seatbelt buckled and expect the same from every passenger in your car!

Article From Selective Insurance Company