KIRO NEWSRADIO

Has your insurance gone up? Rates can take a hike for distracted drivers

Apr 11, 2024, 12:23 PM

Photo: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Washington drivers can face higher insurance ra...

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Washington drivers can face higher insurance rates if caught looking at their phone. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7 News)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7 News)

April is Distracted Drivers Awareness Month. According to a Washington State Patrol (WSP) spokesperson, 34 of the 297 deadly crashes investigated by WSP in 2023 involved distracted driving. And WSP said per its most recent data, troopers pulled over 28,120 distracted drivers last year. President of NW Insurance Council, Kenton Brine, said the legislature has been working on the problem for years.

“The state legislature, a few years back enacted new laws that cracked down on distracted driving and in particular mobile phone use. That fine can cost a couple hundred dollars depending on how many times you’ve been cited for it,” Brine said.

More increases: Yikes! Washington auto insurance rates blast past inflation

On top of that, your insurance can take a big hit.

“In particular, if you’re involved in an accident, and you’re at fault in the accident and you’re cited for distracted driving, that can mean a pretty steep premium increase of anywhere from 5% to 20%”, said Brine.

Typically these infractions stay on your insurance for between one and three years, or until your renewal date. From an insurance perspective, it’s easy to keep your premiums down by keeping your distractions down.

“You know if you’re fortunate enough to have avoided getting a premium increase because you’re a good driver, you want to keep it that way, and one way to ruin that record is to get a distracted driving ticket,” Brine explained.

This month, high visibility enforcement patrols are looking specifically for behavior like eating, grooming or reading behind the wheel.

Other travel news: It’s not the whole enchilada, but light rail to roll on Eastside this month

“The most dangerous thing you can do is pick that phone up and look at it while you’re driving. So please, we urge you to avoid that at all costs and hope everybody has a safe spring and summer,” Brine said.

First-time offenders will receive a ticket between $30 and $136. For second-time offenders, the amount goes up to $234. Don’t forget you can also get a distracted driving ticket while stopped at a stoplight.

Contributing: Julia Dallas, MyNorthwest.

You can read more of Nate Connors’ stories here. Follow Nate on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and the KIRO Newsradio traffic team here for more traffic updates.

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Has your insurance gone up? Rates can take a hike for distracted drivers