Here’s something scary. Travelers did a poll and found 43% of employed adults in the U.S. admit to answering emails, taking phone calls and making other work-oriented communications while driving.
Many people do it because they think because they’re stuck in traffic and traffic is moving slow it’s okay to make a response. If you’re doing that, statistics suggest you need to stop.
That’s one reason Travelers launched the course Every Second Matters. The goal is to raise awareness of distracted driving and it’s doing road shows to promote that awareness. They’ve been to universities and partnered with insurance commissioners, students, safety experts, law enforcement and others to talk about the risk of driving distracted.
It’s important to get this message across as we’ll learn later.
Travelers spokeswoman Joan Woodward said, “Insurance rates have been going up for the past few years. It has not gone unnoticed by state regulatory insurance commissioners with all the claim filings. It was about time for us to step up as a leader in the insurance industry and do something about it.”
Here’s why something needs to be done:
• 17% say they responded via email, text or phone because they’re afraid no response will upset the boss
• 37% say they don’t want to miss something important
• 27% say their bosses contacted them expecting a response knowing they’re on the road
Woodward said, “We’re advising a lot of our commercial clients now, our business insurance clients, that they make sure they have a very strict policy for their employees.”
Policies are one thing. Making them reality is another. Action is critical for this to work. “This is a multibillion dollar problem for everyone. Just raising awareness about it as an issue for society and changing societal norms around it is really important,” Woodward said.
Why all this is so important is the subject of the recent Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report, Spotlight on Highway Safety. It says for the second year in a row close to 6,000 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles.
The report hints the high numbers are associated with legal marijuana and overuse of cellphones while driving.
How serious? GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said pedestrian deaths now account for 16% of all motor vehicle deaths. That’s up from 11% a year ago. “Two consecutive years of 6,000 pedestrian deaths is a red flag for all of us in the traffic safety community. These high levels are no longer a blip but unfortunately a sustained trend,” Adkins said.
Here are the actual numbers:
2017 — 5,984
2016 — 5,987
Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Consulting is the author of the report. “It’s downright disturbing. People outside cars are dying at levels we haven't seen in 25 years,” Rettig said.
He noted two trends are present with all those pedestrian death. They are pot and phones. In spite of the outlawing the use of phones while driving in most states, their use is up 236% from 2010 to 2016.
In the seven states and Washington D.C. legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, a 16.4% increase in pedestrian fatalities have been noticed. All other states saw a 5.8% drop.
“This preliminary 2017 data is the first opportunity to look at marijuana-impairment as a possible contributing factor in pedestrian deaths, given the recent law changes. It’s critical to use this early data to look for potential warning signs,” Rettig said.
Another problem is pedestrian unawareness. Kelley Blue Book analyst Rebecca Lindland said many are tied to headphones listening to music or are texting and walking. At all times but especially at night — where 75% of pedestrian deaths are occurring — that’s very, very dangerous.
“We’ve got distracted drivers and we’ve got distracted pedestrians, and that is a deadly combination. At some point in time, people both behind the wheel and walking in the street have to take responsibility for their behavior and put down the phone,” she said.
Source links: Insurance Journal, USA TODAY