By: Morgan McKinlay

With the rise of technology, car insurance companies are becoming more concerned about the number of distraction-related accidents.[1] Smartphones alone are causing more and more accidents, and with the increase of technology inside cars, insurance companies warn that the screens are too distracting for drivers.[2]

As the number of distraction related accidents rise, insurance premiums are rising as well.[3] Besides the average GPS and radio systems, the new screens are allowing drivers to control far more than they should be while driving. While carmakers are claiming that the features are intended to make driving safer, others claim that all the warning beeps and cameras are overwhelming drivers and distracting them as much as texting would.[4] While non-attentive drivers are not a new issue to the road, insurance companies are stating that the rise of technology has made driving more distracting, and thus more expensive for the insurance companies, forcing them to increase premiums.[5]

There are two sides of the problem: the insurance companies want fewer accidents related to distractions so they can bring premiums down, and the carmakers want more technology that they claim are making driving safer. Insurance companies are paying more and more to repair cars damaged in driver-distracted accidents, and they blame technology for causing those distractions.[6] The difference of opinion creates questions. Do carmakers limit the amount of technology in the cars moving forward? Or, do insurance companies find a way to adjust their premiums so they can maintain their prices while still repairing the cars damaged in driver-distracted accidents?

The numbers show that distraction related car accidents rose in 2015 and only continued to rise in beginning of 2016.[7] However, some argue that the advancements of smartphones, and not the infusion of technology into car, are causing the increase in distractions.[8] From new live streaming capabilities on phones, to the Pokémon Go craze last summer, people are increasingly using their cell phones while they are driving, despite the warnings from various outlets. Cellphones are even linked to the cars through Bluetooth to create hands-free devices, which allows the drivers to continue to use their phones while they are driving. Insurance companies are calling it an epidemic, and are struggling to keep up with the cost of the accidents.

So who is to blame? The carmakers, who claim that their advancements are making the roads safer? Or Apple and Samsung, who are racing to make the most user-friendly cell phones? Should cell phone companies be working with the carmakers to ensure that the two products combined are not making the roads more dangerous than they already are? I would argue that the insurance companies are correct in saying that drivers are more distracted than ever, and that carmakers need to build features in their cars that forces drivers to focus on the road, instead of relying on a computer to focus for them. One officer on California Highway Patrol admits that drivers are so distracted on the road, they do not even realize when an officer is next to them watching.[9] Considering the amount of people on the roads today, drivers need to be as safe as possible, and the increase in technology inside cars is only making them more dangerous.

[1] Nicole Friedman, Insurers are Warning About New Distractions Inside Your Car, Wall St. J.: Moneybeat (Feb. 21, 2017, 12:03 PM),

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Joann Muller, Why Car Safety Features Can Be Dangerous, Forbes (May 25, 2010),

[5] Jamie Condliffe, Technology-Induced Driving is Pushing up Insurance Costs, MIT Tech. Rev. (Feb. 21, 2017),

[6] Nicole Friedman, Insurers are Warning About New Distractions Inside Your Car, Wall St. J.: Moneybeat (Feb. 21, 2017, 12:03 PM),

[7] Id. (stating that in 2015, car accidents rose to 35,092, around 3,500 of which were related to distractions; and increased another 8% in the first nine months of 2016).

[8] Leslie Scism and Nicole Friedman, Smartphone Addicts Behind the Wheel Drive Car Insurance Rates Higher, Wall St. J. (Feb. 21, 2017),

[9] Friedman, supra note 6.

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