Let’s face it: driving is expensive. Really expensive. It’s an unfortunate, unavoidable fact of life for many people who live in rural or suburban areas or cities without widespread public transportation. Between the cost of buying a car, keeping it fueled and maintained, and insuring it, even a modest vehicle can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars a year. Those costs keep many people from driving, creating a transportation barrier which keeps millions of people from improving their economic situations. To make matters worse, auto insurance data compiled by The Zebra, a site which compares nationwide auto insurance prices, insuring a vehicle is more expensive than ever before. Is this an unfortunate fact of driving, or are there ways drivers can bring these premiums down on their own?

The Zebra reports that the national average cost of insuring a car in 2018 has risen to $1,427, representing a 20% increase from 2011. Rates rose the most in Michigan, while rising the least in North Carolina.

One of the reasons insurance rates are rising is the ever-increasing number of distracted drivers on the road today, and insurers and safety officials alike still aren’t sure what to do about the problem. Still, a main reason behind these premium hikes is unavoidable: the ever-increasing amount of drivers on the road. While road-sharing programs and public transportation are doing some to alleviate road congestion, the fact is that low oil prices and a growing population means more cars.

Still, there are ways you can avoid these rising premiums. Learning defensive driving from a qualified traffic school can sometimes earn drivers discounts on auto insurance, depending on the provider. Above all else, though, one of the easiest ways to keep premiums down is to obey all traffic laws, leave your phone off while driving, and stay as safe as possible on the road.