Texting while driving is hurting Warren Buffett

It can drive a man to drink.
It can drive a man to drink.
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking
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Cheap gas has led to a boom in US driving—and an even bigger-than-expected boom in accidents. US traffic deaths are up 14% in the first six months of the year, compared to the prior year. And injuries have risen 30%, according to research from Moody’s and the National Safety Council. Meanwhile, the miles driven through May only increased a bit more than 3%. A reason for the increase in accidents: Texting while driving. Earlier this year the National Safety Council found that roughly one quarter of all crashes involve cellphone use. Noted investor Warren Buffett concurs. Here’s how the Wall Street Journal quoted Buffett on the topic today:

“If cars are better—and they clearly are—drivers must be worse (adjusted for mileage),” Mr. Buffett said in an email. Given that mileage is up only around 3%, Mr. Buffett said he found it hard to draw any other inference from the data than distracted driving to explain the much larger jump in fatalities this year.

There’s a reason why Buffett has an opinion on the topic: It’s costing him money. The conglomerate Buffett runs owns the insurance company Geico. And poor results at Geico were a prime reason Berkshire Hathaway saw a 37% decline in its second-quarter profits.