Talking or texting while driving is a dangerous highway habit that contributes to an estimated 3,000 deaths annually. Research has shown that its cognitive and response impairments are similar to drunk driving. Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board had seen enough of the carnage to call for a nationwide ban on the use of mobile devices while driving.
Ironically, at the very time that lawmakers are weighing the merits of such a ban, several states are exploring amendments to their vehicle codes that would enable drivers to show proof of auto insurance electronically on a mobile device.
Insurance Journal reports that amendments that make mobile electronic proof of insurance a driver option are currently working their way through legislatures in Arizona, California, Idaho, Maryland and Mississippi.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America likes the idea. "This is something we’ve discussed in our auto policy committees and our members are supportive of it," spokeswoman Nicole Mahrt Ganley told IJ.
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto says his bill simply recognizes the reality of modern life.
"Most people today, their whole life is on their cell phone and their laptop," he says. "They have a paperless life … they just feel this is a total hassle to keep this paper in their car."
Gatto knows: He's been pulled over before and lacked his most current proof of insurance stub, which policyholders receive every quarter, annually or upon renewal. His bill would require police to accept as valid an electronic version of that proof of coverage, which drivers could scan and load onto their cell phone or other mobile device.
Even those opposed to driving while using mobile devices readily admit that having connectivity in a vehicle can be a life-saving tool if you're involved in an accident, witness a crime in progress, or become stranded by inclement weather or natural disaster. It's using it while driving that crosses the line.
Will making proof of insurance mobile be a step in the right direction? Or will it muddy the public discourse over the responsible use of mobile devices in vehicles?
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