Distracted driving is a dangerous and prevalent habit among teen drivers. The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration is committed to educating teens and their parents about the dangers and long-term consequences of not paying attention to the road. While texting is most often associated with distraction in the car, other distractions include eating, drinking, grooming, DWI and passengers in the car. Some of these actions seem more innocuous than others, but all forms of distracted driving are reckless, cost money and endanger lives. The MO Eyes on the Road campaign encourages precautionary measures to curb the number of vehicle accidents due to distracted driving.
The Benefits of Good Drivers and Good Students
Many insurance companies and automakers offer electronic systems to monitor your teen’s driving habits, which can result in better rates for good drivers.
- Drivers can buy these devices to monitor speed, turning, braking and other driving habits. Some systems allow parents to monitor a teen’s driving habits.
- Some insurance companies also offer these devices, which can be used to determine safe-driver discounts. Contact your insurance agent about installing a monitoring device and see if you qualify for a Good Driver discount.
Good Driver and Good Student discounts for teen drivers can be substantial, with as much as a 25 percent discount for good students. Defensive driving courses might also qualify for discounts of up to 10 percent. This all means that the better a teen drives and the more they study, the more cash saved.
The Consequences of Distracted Driving
Teen drivers could be canceled from an insurance policy for having an accident, which means they lose their insurance coverage. This also means they cannot drive: You must have liability insurance.
Even if the policy is not canceled, accidents caused by distracted driving can raise your rates by at least 50 percent for three to seven years. For minor moving violations such as a speeding ticket, the average is about three years before rates begin to drop. Major offenses, such as a DWI, result in five to seven years of higher rates.
State law prohibits drivers 21 or younger from texting and driving. If you are caught texting and driving, you could be fined $200 and have 2 points added to your driving record. Points can add up fast for reckless drivers, leading to your license being suspended or revoked.
A teen’s driving record will also follow them for a long time: A DWI conviction follows you for 75 years.
Teens involved in a wreck or ticketed for distracted driving will lose their discounts and have to pay court fees.
Know the facts but still need help putting the phone down in the car? Many insurance and phone companies offer free safe-driver apps that can lock cellphones while driving. These apps will stop you from texting or calling while driving, but also allow for an onscreen 911 feature for an emergency. Take the pledge, get an app and don’t text and drive:
- AT&T DriveMode: This app automatically turns on when the vehicle is moving at 25 mph and also gives you the option for an "allow list," which lets five contacts call without being blocked. (It is mainly compatible with Android smartphones.)
- Sprint Drive First: This app turns on when the vehicle reaches 10 mph. Five contacts can get through, and it does allow for some apps to function while driving. Additionally, Sprint provides a website where a person or parent can monitor the app’s usage. (It is mainly compatible with Android smartphones.)
- Verizon Safely Go: This app must be manually activated each time the driver gets into the vehicle. Three “VIP” contacts can get through, as well as three apps. (It is mainly compatible with Android smartphones.)
- Other apps: Search for other apps that can curb your distracted driving habits.
- Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 25-year-olds.
National Teen Driving
National Distracted Driving
- Ninety-seven percent of teens agree that texting while driving is dangerous. Only 43 percent admit to doing this.
- An estimated 421,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012. That's more than the population of St. Louis.
- People who check their phones are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than those who don’t.
- The average person takes five seconds to text. At 55 mph, your eyes leave the road for the length of a football field.
- Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them.
Missouri Texting Laws
- Young drivers can be fined $200 and have 2 points added to their license for texting and driving.
Missouri Teen Driving
- Missourians younger than 25 make up over 30 percent of traffic fatalities, the largest of any age group.
- Missouri’s population is 30 percent rural, yet 62 percent of traffic fatalities occur on rural roads.
Missouri Teen Distracted Driving
- Teen drivers comprise about 13 percent of inattentive driving fatalities, the largest of any age group.
- From 2010-2012, drivers age 15-20 were most likely to get into a crash that caused disabling injuries.
- Teen drivers and inattentive drivers consistently rank in the top percentage of fatalities and accidents in Missouri.
Missouri Teen Insurance Costs
- Adding a teenager who has no accidents to an insurance policy can increase the parents’ insurance premium by up to 100 percent.
- Many insurance companies and automakers offer electronic systems to monitor a teen’s driving habits. Sometimes these can lower insurance rates.
- Many insurance companies offer Good Driver and Good Student discounts for young drivers.
- Good Driver discounts can be as much as 15 percent.
- Defensive driving courses qualify for discounts of up to 10 percent.
- Good Student discounts can be as much as 25 percent.