Car insurance rates on the rise due to texting while driving; Action News puts you to the test

What would you miss if you put the phone down?
Posted at 4:25 AM, Mar 08, 2017

It might be time to dial back our smartphone obsession – at least behind the wheel.

Car insurance rates are on the rise because car crashes are on the rise. And car crashes are up because – you guessed it -- a whole lot of distracted drivers are texting and surfing the web on the way to Publix or Grandma’s house.

A recent State Farm survey revealed that 36 percent of drivers admitted to firing off a text while driving. Among drivers 18 to 29 years old, 64 percent of those surveyed admitted to texting while driving.

As a result, several major insurance companies have raised premium rates to cover the uptick in phone-related collisions.

That’s a major problem that’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, if we don’t change our collective habits, the results could be financially catastrophic.

But perhaps the remedy is a simple question –  not to mention a better quality of life: What would we really miss if we just didn’t look? If instead of scrolling through Facebook or Twitter while driving down the interstate, instead of checking an ex’s Instagram account while making a right-hand turn, we just waited until we got OUT of our cars to peruse our Androids or iPhones?

We decided to conduct an experiment with University of South Florida St. Petersburg students Angelina Bruno and Jenna Rimensnyder, both of whom are self-described phone fanatics.

Not only are they plugged in – they never really unplug.

Now they had to drive for 45 minutes. No phone. Not even a peek. Cold turkey. At the end of the journey, they’d be allowed to check to see what they missed.

If they missed anything at all, that is.

After 15 minutes, Rimensnyder was searching for her phantom phone: “I feel naked. I just want to check my pockets, my purse.”

Bruno missed having her music at the ready – preferably phone app Spotify – and was jones'ing for tunes. At the half-hour mark, she snapped with a laugh: “I just want my phone back.”

Both made it back to campus without breaking down emotionally or physically.

And what did they truly miss? Bruno laughed as she looked at a mostly blank screen: “Absolutely nothing.” Well, actually she had two alerts for events – from the day before.

Rimensnyder missed a few Instagram “likes,” a few emails. But, with a shrug, she admitted “nothing vital.”

Nope, nothing vital at all.

Drive safe out there, everybody.