4 Ways Being a Safe Driver Will Save You Big Money

That speeding ticket can cost you — to the tune of an initial fine of $100 or more. That's bad enough, but then comes the hit to your insurance premium. You can expect the cost of your auto insurance to jump by at least 20% if you're caught driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, according to a study by InsuranceQuotes.com.

But if you follow the speed limit, you don't have to worry about this financial hit. (See also: 10 New Car Costs the Dealer Is Hiding From You)

That's just one of the ways that being a safe driver can save you a load of money. Here's a look at the financial benefits that a safe driving record will bring you.

Lower Insurance Rates and Discounts

A clean driving record — one free of auto accidents, speeding tickets, or other moving violations — can dramatically reduce the amount you pay to your auto insurer each month.

Insurance Quotes and Quadrant Information Services studied the impact of traffic incidents on insurance rates, and discovered that driving under the influence increased auto insurance premiums by an average of 93%. Reckless driving boosted it upward by an average of 82%. For speeding, the average increase varied, but those drivers going up to 15 miles per hour over the limit generally saw their insurance premiums jump by 21%.

Another study by InsuranceQuotes.com, released in early 2015, found that drivers who make one accident claim will see their auto insurance rates jump by an average of 41%. Those who make two claims in a year will see their auto insurance rates increase by 93%.

If you're a safe driver, you can actually be rewarded and save money by way of discounts. Allstate offers savings of 22% on policies after three consecutive years without any violations or accidents. After five years without any violations or accidents, drivers can reduce their insurance rates by 35%. Allstate also offers a defensive-driver discount. Under this program, drivers who are 55 or older and who complete six or more hours of defensive-driving courses can save up to 10% on their auto insurance.

Don't have Allstate? Geico offers a discount of 26% for drivers who have been accident-free for five years. American Family offers drivers without accidents, violations, or claims a discount of 5% to 10%. Contact your auto insurance provider and see what safe driver discounts are available.

No Speeding Tickets

Getting a speeding ticket isn't much fun. It's costly, too. Last year, NerdWallet took a look at what a speeding ticket can cost drivers in California. According to the site, those drivers who were ticketed for going 15 miles per hour over the speed limit paid an average of $234 when fees and surcharges were taken into account.

In 2013, insurer Esurance reported that the average speeding ticket costs drivers throughout the United States $150. That's a lot of money. And it doesn't even take into account how much your insurance rate will jump after a speeding ticket. Speaking of which...

Gas Savings

You might not think that driving the speed limit will save you money at the fuel pump, but it will. According to the Department of Energy's FuelEconomy.gov, aggressive driving — which includes speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking — can lower your car's gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% when you're driving in town.

By driving the speed limit, and by avoiding rapid acceleration and braking, you can save up to 21 cents per gallon in fuel costs.

Fewer Traffic Accidents

Car accidents are terrifying events. They're also expensive ones.

Speeding, not paying attention, or driving under the influence can not only result in terrible injury or death, but tremendous economic impact. According to a 2010 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the overall cost of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. amounted to nearly $1 trillion. By being more aware, you can save yourself and others the costly financial burden of deductibles, auto and property repairs, rate hikes, and bodily injury.

Driving safely and at the speed limit won't completely protect you from car accidents and their costs. But it will help.

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