From the Wall Street Journal 2/21/2017
Smartphone Addicts Behind the Wheel Drive Car Insurance Rates Higher

Insurers increasingly blame distracted drivers as costs related to crashes outpace premium increases
Distracted by their smartphones, America’s drivers are becoming more dangerous by the day. That is pushing auto-insurance rates higher as insurers struggle to keep up.

Costs associated with crashes are outpacing premium increases for some companies, according to insurers, and they say the use of smartphones to talk, text and access the internet while on the road is a new and important factor behind the wrecks.

It is “an epidemic issue for this country,” said Michael LaRocco, chief executive of State Auto Financial Corp., at an insurance-industry conference last month.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest U.S. auto insurer by market share, said 36% of the people it surveyed in 2015 admitted to texting while driving, and 29% said they access the internet, compared with 31% and 13%, respectively, in 2009. Among drivers aged 18 to 29, 64% said in the 2015 survey that they text while driving, and 54% said they use the internet behind the wheel.

State Farm’s survey found that 52% of respondents in 2011 owned a smartphone, and 88% owned one in 2015.