Insurance Blog
Tuesday, 23 April 2019 12:10

Disrupting Distracted Driving

You've heard about the typical distractions, such as texting while driving, chatting with friends, changing the radio station, but how about these crazy reasons for distracted driving accidents?

  • Susan Laine was driving down the street and saw a man balancing his laptop on his steering wheel.
  • Someone scared the living daylights out of Darnell Martin when the driver of the car he was riding in took his eyes off the road to reach into the back seat for a slice of pizza while traveling about 40 mph.
  • Imagine the surprise Jessica Bryant had when she saw someone painting their toenails while cruising down the road.
  • “Someone I knew took a lovely photo of the sunrise doing about 75-80 mph in the fast lane on I-75,” Lori Gillespie said.
  • “I shaved my legs while driving to a wedding once,” Kay said in her post. “The nicks alone were enough to teach me a lesson.”
  • Andrea Grace said she tried to open a package she received in the mail and realized the combination of trying to drive and see what she had just didn’t work out too well.
  • And there are more instances of distractions such as changing clothes, opening mail and packages, steering with a knee or an elbow, reading, and shaving -- all behind the wheel while driving.

While these accounts from motorists seem outlandish, and even silly, they happen more than most of us would care to admit. And they are dangerous. What's worse, is that these occurrences of distracted driving are not uncommon -- they are just a small sampling wide-ranging distracted driving actions.

Everyone Can Play a Role in Preventing Distracted Driving

More than 37,000 people died on U.S. roads in 2017 — a staggering number. Policymakers, law enforcement, and victims' families point to distracted driving as an important contributing factor. However, contrary to popular belief, distracted driving does not have to involve a phone. In fact, the phrase 'distracted driving' refers to a broad range of activities -- any activity that distracts your brain from the task at hand.

Distracted Driving Isn't Just About Texting While Driving

Three Travelers executives relay how everyone on the road can combat distracted driving:

When you rent a vehicle do you familiarize yourself with the controls, such as the lights and windshield wipers, while you’re driving? Do you ever eat a burger or have a cup of coffee while you’re behind the wheel? All of these behaviors can be distractions that force drivers to take their eyes off the road.

“Distraction isn’t just about texting,” said Pete Gulbrandsen, Vice President of National Auto at Travelers. “It’s really anything that distracts you; even just your brain wandering.” Gulbrandsen is one of several Travelers leaders taking part in the Travelers Institute® Every Second Matters℠ symposium series, which is raising awareness about distracted driving risks through events on college campuses across the United States and Canada.

“Being aware of your own distracted driving habits is important,” said Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute and Executive Vice President of Public Policy at Travelers. “Studies have shown that most people believe that distracted driving is not their problem; it’s the other person’s problem.”

Thirty-two percent of respondents to the 2018 Travelers Risk Index indicated that they were concerned about getting into a collision because of their own distracted driving, while 78 percent worried about getting into a crash due to someone else’s distracted driving.[1]

Gulbrandsen said that after decades of declines in the frequency of motor vehicle collisions, the rate has increased in recent years. “The National Safety Council reported more than 40,000 U.S. traffic fatalities in 2017, even as we’re seeing more and more safety technology available on the road,” he said.

Michael Klein, Executive Vice President and President, Personal Insurance, and Head of Enterprise Business Intelligence & Analytics at Travelers, said Travelers launched the Every Second Mattersinitiative to encourage smart driving behaviors, to help keep the roads safe and auto insurance affordable for consumers and businesses.

“We’re visiting college campuses because vehicle collisions have a cost. Oftentimes that cost, the loss of life, the injuries and the damage to vehicles and properties, are preventable,” said Klein. “We’re trying to help find ways to prevent those crashes from happening in the first place.”

One of those ways is speaking up when a driver is using a mobile device, eating or engaged in another form of distraction, said Klein, pointing to a recent survey that found drivers are more likely to look at their phones while driving alone, than when they’re with family or friends.[2]

“So I think there is something to the peer pressure and stigmatizing distracted driving,” said Klein, urging drivers to think about the safety of others when they’re on the road.

“Are you thinking about the family in the other car?” he asked. “That ought to be [an] incentive for all of us to do the right thing. Pay attention and remember that every second matters."

3 Seconds Behind the Wheel

Recently featured on Good Morning America, "3 Seconds Behind the Wheel" is a groundbreaking documentary that follows the lives of eight drivers to monitor the behavior of distracted drivers. Drivers were filmed with hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. After watching the intro, we're sure you'll understand how just a few seconds is all it takes.

The full 3 Seconds Behind the Wheel documentary is available on Amazon and is included in Amazon Prime membership or can be purchased without membership. 

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. In addition to texting, distractions include talking to passengers, grooming, reading maps, using a navigation system, adjusting a radio, talking to passengers.


Learn How To Avoid Distracted Driving

Take An Effortless, Easy Online Defensive Driving Course

Drive Safely’s Massachusetts defensive driving course is fully online and adaptable to your busy schedule. 

  • Study wherever you want – all you need is a computer with an Internet connection
  • Study whenever you want – our course is available 24/7, day or night
  • Set your own pace – power through the entire course, or break it up into easier chunks
  • No need to drive to a classroom – study right from your home

I Drive Safely’s Massachusetts defensive driving course was developed by a team of professional driving instructors and adult education professionals to maximize engagement and knowledge retention while reducing boredom and tedium. Our easy-to-complete chapters and expertly-designed lessons make it a breeze to complete. You’ll never have to sit through a classroom course, and you’ll never need to read through a driver manual or waste a Saturday listening to a lecture. Price of the course is $24.95.

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, CDC, Travelers, Good Morning America, The News Herald

[1] Travelers, 2018 Travelers Risk Index

[2] ORC International, Online Omnibus Study, conducted April 27-30, 2017.


Read 3624 times Last modified on Monday, 20 May 2019 15:52

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