Distracted driving can be costly

TOPEKA, KS — A wise teacher once said, “When you are multitasking in class, you are doing at least two things badly.”

“Those words also ring true for distracted driving on Kansas highways,” said Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance. “Besides being a safety hazard for yourself and other drivers, distracted driving offenses could factor into your vehicle insurance premiums.”

Commissioner Selzer made the statement in acknowledgment of April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from driving. The activity list includes texting; using a cell phone; eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; reading, including maps; using a navigation system; watching a video; and adjusting a radio or other electronic device.

Because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it could be considered the most alarming distraction, Commissioner Selzer said. And, in Kansas, it is illegal. A fine and possibly a red flag on your policy when your insurance is up for renewal are consequences of receiving a citation for texting and driving.

Statistics from the Kansas Department of Transportation website show that drivers in the ages 14-19 and 20-24-year-old groups have more instances of distracted driving when using electronic devices, such as texting on smartphones, than other age groups.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said more than 3,100 people were killed and 424,000 people were injured in 2013 in vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

“Distracted driving can be risky, it can be costly, and, unfortunately, it can be deadly,” Commissioner Selzer said. “I urge everyone to be proactive in keeping your driving distractions under control, especially when using electronic devices.” 

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