The National Safety Council has declared the month of April Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The council — along with auto insurers — do this every year. In 2017 over 40,000 people were killed in auto crashes and 4.57 million people were seriously injured.
Bob Passmore of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) said the advanced technologies used in autos these days has made them safer. That means auto deaths and injuries should be dropping but they’re not.
“Distracted driving — and the ubiquitous use of smartphones behind the wheel — is one of the leading causes for the rise in vehicle crashes nationwide,” he said.
The software developer TrueMotion offered up some frightening statistics:
• 92% of us use our smartphones while driving
• 71% text while driving
• 40% of drivers are distracted for 15-minutes out of every hour of driving
Last year Cambridge Mobile Telematics found more than 52% of crashes had a distracted driving component to them. Not only that, the average length of that distraction is two-minutes.
The point of Distracted Driving Awareness Month is to educate people on the risk of distracted driving. There are lots of distractions in automobiles that aren’t smartphones and people need to be aware of them. However, the biggest distraction remains that phone.
“Too many drivers are still texting, talking, surfing the web, and using social media and apps on their smartphones while driving,” Passmore added.
Passmore’s message and that of the National Safety Council and the auto insurance industry is simple: don’t talk, text or use apps while you’re driving. Just put the phone down and drive.
Travelers Institute President Joan Woodward said the 2018 Travelers Risk Index puts the problem in perspective. The study found most drivers responding to personal texts, emails and calls while driving said they answer them because they’re afraid of an emergency or missing something important.
“There’s clearly a disconnect between drivers’ perception of what is safe and the reality of what is happening on our roads. Lives are being lost to distracted driving-related collisions,” she said.
Here’s what the survey found:
• 25% say they multitask because they think they can do it safely
• Just 12% use the phone features of auto-reply and do not disturb while driving
True Motion’s CEO Ted Gramer said, “The first step to changing behaviors is being aware of them. The Travelers Risk Index highlights that drivers are categorizing distraction as ‘someone else’s problem’ when they are the ones who are engaging in highly risky behavior.”
Passmore offered seven safe driving tips and modifications we can all do to prevent auto accidents:
1. Avoid distracted driving. Don’t talk, text or use apps while driving. Put the phone down and just drive. Try to limit other distractions, such as eating or fiddling with controls, and be aware that having more passengers in the car multiplies the opportunity for distraction. Secure pets in the back of the car.
2. Wear your seatbelt. Whether you’re traveling to see friends or family or just running errands, buckle up and drive safely. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
3. Give yourself plenty of time. Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads over spring break, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for auto crashes increases. Plan routes in advance when traveling to new destinations and be patient.
4. Pay attention to your speed. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and be aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Be especially cautious around construction workers. They’re often working close to the highway and at great risk.
5. Beware of crash taxes. Although crash taxes have been banned or limited in several states, many cities, counties and fire districts will charge the at-fault driver for the emergency response costs of a crash. Fees can range from $100 to more than $2,000, and a typical insurance policy does not cover those costs.
6. Have a plan for roadside assistance. If you’re involved in a crash, beware of unscrupulous towing companies. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident by charging excessive fees and making it difficult for people to retrieve their cars. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready.
7. Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road, replace any expired insurance identification cards so you can provide current proof of insurance during a traffic stop.
Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com, Carrier Management, Business Insurance