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Distracted Driving — Still a Growing & Very Dangerous Problem

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Distracted driving is everywhere. It ranges from smart vehicles that do everything but drive themselves to the mobile device distractions that have plagued the country since cell phones became a must.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released statistics showing that — in spite of laws against hand held use and restrictions on other ways to talk on them — that cell phone use has increased.

IIHS spokesman David Kidd said this behavior could be responsible for up to 800 deaths a year on U.S. streets, roads and highways. “The latest data suggest that drivers are using their phones in riskier ways,” he said. “The observed shift in phone use is concerning because studies consistently link manipulating a cellphone while driving to increased crash risk.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) thinks the number of fatalities could be higher than the 800. It estimates that 3,166 fatalities in 2017 were because of distracted driving. While not all of that distracted driving was mobile device use, the evidence says more are than less.

By the way, the 3,166 deaths are 8.5% of all U.S. traffic fatalities.

So why are so many people talking on their phones while driving? Kelly Funkhouser of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center said it’s because people find driving boring and a necessity. They want something to relieve the monotony.

“Society increasingly expects people to multitask at all times of day, so there is going to be pressure to accomplish something if they’re getting pinged on their phone,” she said and then added that automakers are making it increasingly easy for people to use a phone in a vehicle. The use of touch screens and more are adding to the distractions.

Even worse, Funkhouser said many of those systems are poorly designed and that makes this even more dangerous. “The fact is that some people are going to use their cell phone while driving, and increasing eyes-off-road time makes it much more dangerous to do so,” she said.

Her publication is lobbying the auto industry and asking it to stop adding features that encourage people to take their eyes off the road. If they can’t do that, then make sure those features are disabled when the vehicle is moving.

When it comes to phones, Consumer Reports wants automakers to make pairing the phone with the automobile as easy as possible.

In some states there are laws on the books to make cell phone use in vehicles illegal haven’t worked. Two of them are the PIA Western Alliance states of California and Washington.

In California the Office of Traffic Safety does an annual survey of drivers. They park at various corners in different cities and do a count. This year they parked at 204 locations in 17 counties.

Rhonda Craft is the head of the office. She said this year 4.6% of the drivers observed were on their phones as they drove past. That’s up 3.6% from a year ago.

“Our goal is to end distracted driving, and there’s still work to be done,” she said. “This observational survey gives us an idea on where we stand getting drivers’ attention away from their phones and where we still have work to do.”

The good news is that the percentage of drivers on their phones is down from 2016 when the figure was 7.6% Craft said that means more drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving.

“Social norms are changing when it comes to distracted driving,” Craft added. “When a driver’s perception of risk changes for certain behaviors like using their phone and driving, they are less likely to do something that can get them in trouble or worse, in a crash.”

Here’s what else the California Office of Traffic Safety found:

  People alone in their cars are 8x more likely to use their phones than those driving with a passenger

  Drivers are more apt to use their phones on local roads than on highways

  Rather than being on the phone, drivers are more likely to be texting or doing other functions

  Less than 2% of drivers used their phones with children in the car

The Washington State Traffic Safety Commission did the same kind of test of Washington drivers. Statistics from that study showed that just 3.4% of drivers witnessed were holding their phone to their ear rather than using a hands free system.

That’s down from just under 6% in 2016 and 2017.

That’s good news says commission spokeswoman Staci Hoff. “Lots of drivers believe distracted driving is happening at a higher rate than it is. It’s about one in every 10 people,” she said.

When it comes to overall distracted driving, the commission said about 8.2% are distracted at some point while the vehicle is moving. That’s a one-point drop from 2016 and 2017. So while phones are not as much of a distraction, eating, tuning music on a radio or other devices, or attending to pets or children is up.

The PIA Western Alliance state of Arizona is looking at adding a ban on cellphone use while driving to its laws. It is one of just three states where texting and hand-held phone use is still legal.

A bill has been introduced by Republican state Sen. Kate Brophy McGee to ban cellphone use while driving. She hopes the state will finally act. For the last decade, each year the Legislature has said no to a ban.

McGee believes there is now support in both chambers to get the job done. “This is the DUI issue of our time. And we need to educate and reculture our driving public to follow the rules,” she said.

The only other states without a ban are the PIA Western Alliance state of Montana and Missouri.

Speaking of distracted driving. Several states have made the recreational use of marijuana legal. A number of others say the use of pot for medical reasons is okay. That has increased the number of people driving under the influence of marijuana.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Addiction Center talked to peole that take medical cannabis for chronic pain. Their research found in the last six months:

  56% said they drove within two hours of using marijuana

  51% said they drove while “a little high”

  21% said they drove while “very high”

 

Cannabis is just one more addition to the growing list of driver distractions.

 

Source links: Consumer Reports, The Sacramento Bee, The Daily Chronicle, AZ Central, PropertyCasuaty360.com

 

Tags:  Distracted Driving  Still a Growing & Very Dangerous Problem 

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Distracted Driving: The Danger Mounts

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 10, 2014

People have been driving distracted for eons but with the advent of smart and mobile phone texting, the danger has moved from the back pages to front page news. Yes, texting and mobile phone usage is dangerous but there are other dangers out there and some of them just as deadly.

But first, a look at phone habits and driving courtesy of State Farm. Its the firms sixth annual Distracted Driving Survey. To begin with it found that a huge majority of those surveyed support laws making cellphone use illegal. They do however admit illegal or not, theyre using them while driving.

 

Heres where theyre most likely to use them:

  Stopped at a red light 63%

  On an open highway 30%

 

There are some conditions where drivers are less likely to use their mobile phones. These are those conditions and they are when its:

  Dark outside 75%

  Foggy 91%

  Snowing or snowy 92%

  Icy 93%

  Heavy traffic 78%

  A construction zone 87%

  Raining or rainy 88%

  In a school zone 83%

 

State Farms Director of Technology Research Chris Mullen said researchers were really disturbed the the admission of 10% of those surveyed who said they will use their phones for calls or texting in a construction or a school zone.

Its interesting to see that many drivers report assessing driving conditions when they make choices regarding using their cellphones. However, we want to remind people that there are demands on their attention when driving whether moving or not, and to please stay 100% focused on their drive, he said.

There are however, other distractions. Erie Insurance did a study of them and cell and smartphone use and texting are number two on the list and found the 10 most dangerous.

 

1.    Generally distracted or lost in thought: Driving in a thought fog says Eries researchers is the most dangerous driving of all. Some of you may recognize this as being on auto pilot. Daydreaming accounted for 62% of the road fatalities.

2.    Cell phone use: That is talking, listening, dialing, texting. Weve already covered much of this, however, one statistic does bear scrutiny. The National Safety Council says texting while driving causes 1.6-million accidents a year. Those accidents cause 30,000 injuries and for teens 11 deaths.

3.    People, objects or events outside the vehicle: Some might say this is rubbernecking. We all tend to do it from time to time. We check out an off-road drama, gawk at a wreck or check out a member of the opposite sex.

4.    Occupants inside the vehicle: This is talking with or looking at someone in the vehicle. They account for 5% of all fatal crashes.

5.    Reaching for something brought into the vehicle: This would be headphones, or GPS, or other items. They account for 2% of all fatalities.

6.    Eating and drinking: Stats say 2% of fatalities involve eating and/or drinking or vice-versa as the reason.

7.    Adjusting audio or climate controls: Switching radio stations or adjusting volume on music or audio, or doing adjustments to climate controls led to 2% of fatalities.

8.    Other device adjustments: Any activity that takes the eyes off the road is dangerous. Just adjusting a seat or a mirror can cause distractions that lead to accidents. They account for 1% of fatalities.

9.    Things moving in the vehicle: This would be kids or pets, or insects.

10.  Smoking: Lighting up, putting one out, ashtray use.

 

State Farms survey also tracked trends over the past six-years:

  The last six-years has produced a steady reduction of those talking on hand-held devices.

  There are no more and unfortunately no fewer people texting while driving.

  Smartphone use is growing significantly. In 2011, 52% owned one. In 2014 the number is 80%.

  The biggest percentage of the increase in smartphone ownership is in those over 40.

  Smartphones have created new, and potentially deadly distractions like internet use, email reading. email writing, navigation system programming and use and social media reading.

  Drivers are more likely to talk on their hand-held phone than they are to text. However, those 18 to 29 do this more than those who are older and the numbers decrease with age.

  Hands-free phone use has increased while driving most likely because of advances of hands-free technology in vehicles. Another reason is new laws on hand-held phone usage.

Mullen said, These six-year trends make it apparent that smartphones have created many new distractions for drivers to juggle. While much attention is paid to the dangers of talking and texting while driving, its critical that we also address the increasing use of other smartphone features and other sources of distraction.

 

Source links: State Farm and PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  Auto  Auto Insurance  Distracted Driving  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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