April 10, 2018

Car Insurance Penalties For Distracted Driving Up Nearly 8,000% Since 2011, The Zebra Reports

New Research Shows Rate Increases Rising Sharply As Insurers Crack Down on Distracted Driving; Penalties Still Significantly Less Than For DUI Violations 

The Zebra, the nation’s leading car insurance search engine, today released its 2018 Distracted Driving Report, which details the recent sharp rise in penalties for distracted driving violators, compares the discrepancy in insurance penalties between drunk and distracted driving, and provides a data-driven look at what drivers can expect in the years ahead.

Distracted Driving Violation Penalties Negligible in 2011; Now 8,000% Higher

In 2011, a ticket for texting or using a cell phone while driving would only raise drivers’ car insurance rates by 0.2% (less than $3) annually. Today, a distracted driving violation will cause rates to rise 16% (about $226) – a penalty increase of 7,900% since 2011.

“Speeding, drinking and driving, disobeying traffic signals – those violations have (unfortunately) been around since the advent of automobiles. Distracted driving is really the only new dangerous behavior to affect your driving record,” said Alyssa Connolly, Director of Market Insights at The Zebra. “The insurance industry and regulators have to ensure any rate changes they make are justified, so even though cell phones aren’t new to you and me, the risks and dangers they pose for drivers have only recently been substantiated – and now distracted drivers are really seeing the effects on their premiums.”

Distracted Driving Insurance Penalties Vary Widely Throughout the U.S.

Insurers in only 10 states raised rates for distracted driving violations as recently as six years ago. Today, insurers in every state penalize distracted driving – but to wildly different degrees. These penalties vary greatly throughout the United States and can range from just $2.51 (New York) to $681 (Michigan) annually. In some cities, such as Detroit, the penalty nears $2,000.

 States with the highest average rate increases (percent) for a distracted driving violation:

  1. Vermont – 41% ($425)

  2. Connecticut – 34% ($520)

  3. Oregon – 31% ($432)

 States with the lowest average rate increases (percent) for a distracted driving violation:

  1. New York – 0.16% ($2.51)

  2. Minnesota – 2.17%($27.28)

  3. Georgia –  2.89% ($40.09)

Insurance Impacts of Distracted Driving vs. DUI and Other Violations

The penalty for a DUI is 383% higher than the penalty for distracted driving, even though the behaviors are often considered equally as dangerous and deadly. Other violations that receive harsh penalties from insurance companies include driving too slowly ($345), making an illegal turn ($328), or passing a school bus ($490) – all still higher penalties than distracted driving.

As insurers catch up to technological advances which distract drivers and cause accidents (such as cell phone use), penalties for these violations are only expected to increase.

For comprehensive information about how distracted driving and other violations influence individual car insurance rates, see The Zebra’s 2018 Distracted Driving Report.


About The Zebra 

The Zebra is the nation's leading auto insurance search engine. With its dynamic, real-time quote comparison tool, drivers can identify insurance companies with the coverage, service level, and pricing to suit their unique needs. The Zebra compares more than 200 car insurance companies and provides licensed agent support and educational resources to ensure drivers are equipped to make the most informed decisions about their policies. It's "insurance in black and white."