Should I have a cell phone in the car while driving?

Cell phone use while driving is dangerous and often illegal. However, it's smart to have one around in case you need to take pictures of an accident or call for help.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Things to Remember...

  • Cell phones should never be used when a person is driving a car
  • However, cell phones can be helpful in the event of an accident
  • You can use your cell phone to call for help or to take photos of the damage

First off, remember that under no circumstances should a driver ever talk on a cell phone or text while driving. That’s just asking for trouble.

But if trouble does come along anyway and you’re involved in an accident, a cell phone can be a kind of supplement to your auto insurance.

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Cell Phones and Car Accidents

If you’re in an accident, you’ll need to call 911, especially if there are any injuries.

You shouldn’t have to run around looking for a phone to call an ambulance when someone is hurt in an accident, which can be difficult or even impossible if you’re driving in a rural area.

And if that someone is you, you’ll be grateful if the other driver has a cell phone.

Aside from injuries and reporting the accident to the police, there are other calls to make:

  • If you were on your way to work, you need to call your boss and explain why you’re going to be late
  • You also need to call a spouse or other family member to let them know what happened
  • You need to call your insurance company and file a claim as quickly as possible

The sooner the claim process is begun, the sooner you can get your vehicle repaired and back on the road.

The car(s) involved in the accident will need to contact their respective auto insurance companies with information about what occurred, when, and where.

Getting an insurance agent on the phone as soon after the accident as possible will allow them to walk you through those questions and get the information they need that will help them serve you better.

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Accident Pictures and Cell Phones

Cell phones now come with built-in cameras, some with better quality than others. If you’re in an accident, a phone camera can really come in handy.

Depending on where the accident occurs and if it’s a minor fender bender, you may need to move your car from the roadway as quickly as possible to avoid causing a traffic jam.

Before you move your car, it’s a good idea to snap a few photos of all the vehicles involved and where they are in relation to each other.

You should also get a few shots of the damage to your car.

If you’re the one who rear-ended someone else, be sure to get photos of the damage you caused so it can’t be exaggerated later by an unscrupulous driver or a scam artist trying to get more money out of you.

You can show these photos to the police when they arrive and to the agent handling your auto insurance claim.

If things escalate and you end up in court because of the accident, photos may be important evidence to help your case.

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Hit-and-Run Accidents

Let’s say you get rear-ended and the other driver decides to flee the scene. With your camera phone, you may be able to get a shot of the vehicle or at least its license plate before it speeds away.

But even if preparing the camera takes too much time and the car is gone by the time you’re ready to take the photo, if your phone has voice memo capability, you can at least record the license plate number before you forget it.

You can then provide this information to the police and your insurance company.

Depending on how long of a message your phone can record, you may also want to turn that feature on if the other driver stays in order to record any conversation you may have.

Most states allow this as long as both parties know the conversation is being recorded, and in some states, it’s enough for just one party to be aware of it.

Check your state’s laws before using your cell phone in this manner.

“In Case of Emergency” Numbers

If you’re in an accident, there’s a chance you may be badly injured and unable to call for help or to notify your loved ones that you’re being taken to the hospital.

Your cell phone can come to the rescue here as well as it’s becoming common practice for people to enter “ICE” numbers in their contacts list.

These are “In Case of Emergency” numbers that will allow emergency personnel to quickly find and call those people who need to be notified that you’ve been hurt.

You may even enter a contact as “ICE-Husband,” or “ICE-Mom” so that emergency workers know whom they’re calling.

You may also list numbers as “ICE-1,” “ICE-2,” and so on to signify an order of whom to call in case the primary contact can’t be reached.

Maybe someday insurance companies will give cell phones as free gifts when you buy an auto policy, the way banks used to give away toasters with new accounts.

Until then, it may be a good idea to get a cell phone for yourself, just in case.

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Save Money on Your Auto Insurance

Hopefully, you’ve got some new information now, and it’ll help you make a decision about finally getting a cell phone if you don’t already have one.

No matter which way you go on this issue, you should definitely make sure you’re already getting the cheapest auto insurance you can qualify for, with or without a cell phone.

Start comparing free auto insurance rates from three to four companies to start saving money!

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