The Safe Driver's Guide to Auto Insurance
Good driving means great auto insurance rates: it's as simple as that. If you're a safe driver, you can save money on car insurance. Demonstrate your good driving habits with a spotless driving record, and you can earn lower rates from your auto insurer with discounts that pay off year after year as you continue your safe driving habits.
Safe Driving by the Numbers
Consider these facts that illustrate the importance of committing to safe driving:
- Motor vehicle crashes are by far the number one cause of death for 16 to 24 year olds at 48.5%.
- New, inexperienced drivers are at a particularly higher risk: 43% of first year drivers and 37 percent of second year drivers are involved in car crashes.
- There is hope for young drivers with safety in mind: advanced teen driver training has been shown to reduce crashes by new drivers by 70%.
- Accidents are expensive: the average auto liability claim in 2013 was $3,231 for property damage and $15,443 for bodily injury. The cost of medical care and productivity losses is more than $99 billion, or almost $500 for every licensed driver in America.
- There is a high cost of life in accidents as well. There were 32,719 motor vehicle fatalities and 2.31 million injuries in 2013.
Safe drivers often avoid becoming a part of these dismal statistics as they practice good driving habits that help them to avoid accidents and traffic violations. As you can see in these statistics, driver behavior has a significant impact on accident risk:
- Aggressive driving, including improper following, erratic lane changing, failure to observe traffic laws, or simply driving recklessly accounts for the highest risk in fatal motor vehicle accidents. In 56% of fatal crashes from 2003 to 2007, aggressive driving, particularly speeding, played a role.
- Speeding is a contributing fator in 29% of all fatal crashes. This rate is higher among young (aged 15-24) male drivers, with 35% of this group speeding at the time of a fatal crash.
- The dangerous habit of distracted driving is a major safety threat, with distraction affected crashes making up 10% of fatal crashes, 18% of injury crashes, and 16% of all motor vehicle crashes in 2013.
- It should go without saying that safe drivers avoid drunk driving. In 2013, 31% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities had alcohol impaired driving as a contributing factor.
Why Insurance Companies Love Safe Drivers
Insurance companies want the same thing you do: to avoid the risk of accidents, traffic violations, and other incidents on the road. When you get into an accident that's your fault, it costs the insurance company money. And while unfortunate accidents are the reason why you have insurance, it's always better to have insurance available just in case rather than to get into an accident and actually have a need to use it. This is something safe drivers understand, and insurance companies are always happy to support them as they continue their good driving habits.
Safe drivers are easily identified by their claim free status. They're the ones who may have never experienced an accident in their lives, or who have gone several years without an at-fault accident.
Given a long history of avoiding accidents and traffic violations, insurance companies are typically safe in their assumption that safe drivers will continue to do their best to avoid accidents that can drive their rates up.
Safe drivers are also less likely to receive traffic tickets, as safe drivers typically follow traffic laws carefully. These are not drivers who are dinged for speeding, texting while driving, or DWIs. Rather, they follow the speed limit, brake carefully, and pause at every stop sign.
How Much You Can Save as a Safe Driver
As a safe driver, you stand to earn as much as 45% off your insurance premiums simply by avoiding violations or accidents. Safe driver discounts are offered by practically every major insurance company and can range from 20% to nearly 50%, or more.
To qualify for a safe driver discount, you'll need to demonstrate your commitment to safe driving over a certain period of time. Typically, you'll need to go at least three years without an accident or traffic violation. Continued safe driving over more years may earn you even higher discounts.
On top of safe driver discounts, you can add even more savings by participating in safe driver incentives, such as defensive driving, teen driving education, or installation of a telematic device to record driving behaviors. These discounts typically range from 10% to 30%.
How You Can Be a Safe Driver -- And Prove it
Anyone can say they're a safe driver, but only you know how you truly perform behind the wheel. Of course, if you want to snag a safe driver discount, you will have to prove that you're a good driver. There are a number of ways to demonstrate your safe driving commitment, including:
- Driving safely: This one is a no-brainer. Avoid speeding, distracted driving, aggressive driving, and other dangerous driving habits. Practice defensive driving to avoid accidents, and keep a claim free, violation free record as proof that you've earned your safe driver status. You can learn more about the basics of safe, defensive driving in our Guide to Defensive Driving.
- Install a telematic device: New technology allows insurance companies, with your permission, to track your driving habits. The device will record how fast you drive, how hard you brake, and even the time of day when you drive, letting the insurance company know if you're driving during accident-prone hours such as rush hour or late at night. It can also come in handy if you end up in an accident, allowing the insurance company to examine how you reacted during the moment of the accident.
- Complete a defensive driving course: Not just for drivers seeking to remove a ticket from their driving record, defensive driving is an excellent educational resource for all drivers, safe drivers included. Take a defensive driving course, and you can brush up on maintaining your good driving habits, avoiding accidents, and receive an update on your state's traffic laws and regulations.
- Complete a teen or mature driver course: Similar to defensive driving courses, teen driver and mature driver courses focus on safe driving information tailored to their specific age groups. Teen driver programs typically focus on avoiding dangerous driving habits, while mature driving programs teach experienced older drivers how to safely adapt their driving skills as they age.