The makers of semi-autonomous driving hardware often tout safety as a big selling point for their technology. But drivers may have to accept that the near future will hold at least a few bumps, and perhaps increased insurance premiums, if the effect of smartphones is anything to go by.
The Wall Street Journal reports that some car insurers are finding that their payouts are rising faster than their premiums. And a chief culprit, according to analysis by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, is smartphones—with over half of drivers aged 18 to 29 admitting to texting and Internet browsing while at the controls of their car. The result: more accidents now occur because people play with their phones, and those incidents are pushing premium prices up.
The problem is more serious than a minor bump every time someone checks Facebook on the highway. Last year, statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that the number of fatalities in accidents where distracted driving—the result of, say, texting on a cell phone, but also sipping at an iced coffee—was cited as a reason have risen by 8.8 percent year-on-year, from 3,197 to 3,477.
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