When you’re racing to get to work on time, car insurance probably isn’t at the top of your mind. The worst that can happen is being pulled over by a cop and getting an ugly speeding ticket, right? Wrong. Traffic violations often have much larger repercussions than one-time payments, including a hike in the price of your car insurance. Here are some of the most common (and most expensive) traffic violations you could face on the road—and end up regretting for years to come.
The percentages used throughout this article are averages that were pulled from a study conducted by Insurance.com. In the analysis, they compared a driver with a clean record to a driver with different types of moving violations. The information was gathered from six major insurance carriers in 10 ZIP codes across every state.
Common Traffic Violations
Both the number of tickets you accrue and how far over the speed limit you were going can significantly impact your insurance rates. Typically, the more tickets you receive, the higher your premium will cost you. On average, insurance costs can increase anywhere from 20–30% after you get a speeding ticket.
2. Distracted, Careless, or Reckless Driving
Distracted driving may involve anything that pulls your attention off the road. Examples include talking, texting, eating, or even messing with your music. Careless driving is a bit more serious. It involves activities like frequent lane changes, running red lights, speeding, and other activities that are considered hazardous and negligent.
Reckless driving is a very serious traffic violation and can result in a 73% increase, on average, in insurance costs. You’re considered reckless if you intend to harm someone, damage something, or choose to drive in an unsafe manner.
3. Texting and Driving
“When you text while driving, your eyes are off the road for an average of almost five seconds…if you’re traveling at 55 mph, that’s basically like driving blindfolded for the length of a football field,” (NerdWallet). Wow! What a terrifying thought. Texting while driving is illegal in most states and could result in a fine and a 20% increase in your insurance rates.
4. Talking on Your Cell Phone
Many states allow you to talk on your phone while driving if you’re over 21, but some have banned it completely and will fine you if you get caught. If you’re under 21, using your phone in any way while driving could be illegal in your state. Failing to restrict your cell phone usage can result in a large fine and around a 16% increase in your insurance premium.
5. Running a Red Light
Running a red light may seem like a minor offense, but it can significantly impact your insurance rates if you’re caught by a police officer or, depending on where you live, a red-light camera. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 50 percent of serious crashes occur at or near intersections.
6. Driving Too Slowly
Whether you enjoy taking your time, tend to camp out in the left lane, or decide to let Grandma get behind the wheel, you could face significant consequences. Driving under the minimum speed limit can be as dangerous as speeding—and is treated as such in many states. It can result in tailgating, road rage, passing on the right, confusion, or an accident.
7. Passing or Turning Improperly
You could get pulled over for improper passing if you endanger others by (1) nearly forcing someone off the road or (2) causing an accident. Passing on the right and attempting to pass on a hill or blind curve are also violations that could score you a ticket and a 20% premium hike.
Turning improperly can result in similar consequences. Violations in your state may include
- turning right on red without coming to a complete stop first,
- making turns that are wider than necessary,
- making illegal U-turns, or
- failing to properly follow light signals and posted signs at intersections.
8. Not Yielding to Pedestrians
Be careful never to drive into a crosswalk area when pedestrians are crossing the street—either when the light has turned green or they’ve been given the signal to walk. Doing so can result in a citation and a 20% rise in your insurance premium.
9. Following Another Vehicle Too Closely
No one likes a tailgater. Next time you’re tempted to follow another car closely and give them a “friendly” nudge, think again. You could bump up your premium by 20% if you’re caught in the act.
10. Driving Under the Influence
This one may seem obvious, but did you know that insurance rates can increase by nearly 80%, on average, for a first offense? Some states, like California, raise their rates much more severely for this major violation. Getting caught driving with drugs or alcohol in your system can also stay on your driving record for much longer than many other violations: five to 10 years in most states.
Other Violations That Impact Auto Insurance Rates
- Driving without a license
- Driving with a suspended license (major violation)
- Hit and run (major violation)
- Driving without insurance
- Racing (major violation)
- Not wearing your seatbelt
- Driving in the carpool lane
- Driving with an open container (major violation)
Keep in mind that consequences for common traffic violations vary among states and different insurance carriers. The penalties you face could be substantially different than what we’ve stated in this article. It’s also important to note that many violations will remain on your record for around three years. The more violations you commit, the riskier you will appear to insurance companies and the pricier your coverage is likely to be.
If your premium has gone up for any reason and is no longer affordable, it may be the right time to shop for new auto insurance. We’d love to help you out. Send us a message, give us a call, or request a quote online so we can find you some great options for your unique situation. We look forward to helping you save money and feel more confident in your coverage while you’re on the road.