GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Just a few, short seconds of being distracted is all it takes to crash your car, and your bank account. 11 News takes an in-depth look at the price tag of distracted driving and why you're literally paying the consequences even if you're not doing it.
"Distracted for a moment, went to retrieve a pack of cigarettes." Home Loan Auto Insurance Agent Carma Brown says she's seeing more and more statements like these whenever she gets a claim for a crash.
"I honestly can't remember the last claim I did in the last month where there wasn't something distracting that driver," says Brown.
And unless their insurance policies have accident protection built into them, she says distracted drivers are guaranteed to see an increase in their premiums that will catch their attention.
"The average increase to your policy could be $400 or $500 for an average aged person," says Brown. "If you are a teen driver, girl or boy, you could see a rate increase of about $1,000 a year on top of the premiums you're already paying."
Those rate increases stay on a policy for three years. But it's not just distracted drivers' wallets that take a hit when distracted driving crashes happen.
"It is absolutely impacting everyone else's bottom line," says Brown.
Let's say your insurance company pays out $10,000 to cover a crash you caused, then increases your premium by $500 as a result. Even with that rate increase on your policy for three years, it only adds up to $1,500 your provider will get back from you, leaving them $8,500 in the hole. Brown says one way or another, insurance companies will find a way to make up those losses.
"When we see an across the board rate increase, which carriers do take, it's because they're needing to recoup the losses because of the claims they've paid out," says Brown.
Brown says one group that's really feeling the effects of that right now is teenage girls, simply because they're the ones who are statistically most distracted behind the wheel.
"The female rate of accidents has just compounded, it's such a number," says Brown. "They're starting to be charged a higher rate almost equivalent to boys."
It's just one example of a trend that insurance providers say they don't want to see continue. So much so, that one of them has launched a program designed to stop distracted driving early on and lower premiums.
"If a family will allow us to install a G-force operated camera in their teenager's car, we will give them just about a 10 percent discount on their insurance rate," says Lee Allee, an American Family Insurance agent.
That camera, part of American Family Insurance's Teen Safe Driver program, is activated when the teen driver stops suddenly, accelerates quickly, or gets into a wreck. Video from 15 seconds before and after that moment is sent to a Web site that parents can access.
"Parents find children using cell phones, maybe brushing their hair or putting on makeup while they're driving, too many kids in the car causing distractions," says Allee.
American Family says by making teens more aware of what they're doing behind the wheel and of the fact that their parents can see them, the program has helped reduce their risky behaviors by 70 percent.
"That teen driver is then giving the adult instructions on what to do and what not to do," says Allee. "It was creating new and better habits for them that hopefully will be life-long."
For more information on the Teen Safe Driver Program or to learn how you can enroll your teen, click on the link below listed under Related Links.
Be sure to tune to 11 News Saturday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m. for "11 Cares: Just Drive" a 30 minute special on the dangers of distracted driving.