Special Report: Distracted Driving — Be Careful Out There

We’re all busy. Many of us drive when we’re busy with what’s coming up at work, or what’s happening with the family, or thoughts of the next stop, the next meeting and more.

And, though we all know that, in most states at least, it’s against the law to text or check email while we’re driving, or to drive and talk while holding a smartphone to your ear, we do it anyway.

It’s the do it anyway that is the subject of this story.

Nationwide just released the results of a survey of drivers of passenger autos and of commercial vehicles and found many of those drivers admit to driving while distracted. What the insurer found is disturbing.

  • 33% of commercial drivers say they are sometimes or often distracted while driving
  • 60% of those drivers say they see other commercial drivers looking at their phones more often than in the past
  • That same 60% say other commercial drivers are driving faster than they did last year

And how are those commercial drivers distracted?

  • 55% say their GPS/Nav systems distract them
  • 36% admit to responding to text messages from work
  • 27% say they text or talk on their mobile phone
  • 13% are checking their social media apps

Some commercial drivers say the distracted driving is because of pressure from their employer to make a tight timeline. Of those same drivers, 90% say it is dangerous to hold a phone in their hand while driving, and to talk, text or navigate while on that phone.

Many say other drivers are worse and 80% rate their own driving as excellent or very good.

  • 25% of commercial drivers say they’re better drivers than other commercial drivers
  • 14% say they’re better drivers than passenger autos

Kelly Hernandez is the AVP of Nationwide’s personal telematics. She said 92% agree that — doing it or not — distracted driving is dangerous.

“Nationwide’s telematics driving data shows that drivers take their eyes off the road at least 12 times per day,” she said. “The average distraction for a driver traveling at 45MPH would cover the length of three football fields! States with hands-free laws are helping to minimize distraction, but we need all 50 states to adopt hands-free laws to continue to reduce crashes and save lives.”

A different survey from the 2024 Travelers Risk Index came to similar conclusions. It found the number of the most common distractions and behaviors that dropped during the COVID pandemic have increased.

Michael Klein is the executive vice president and president of Personal Insurance at Travelers. He says these are the distractions that are drifting upward.

  • Updating or checking social media — up13%
  • Typing a text or email — rose10%
  • Talking on a cellphone hands-free — increased10%
  • Using a cellphone to record videos or to take photos — up 9%
  • Reading a text or an email — rose 9%

“Distraction is one of the leading causes of roadway fatalities, and it continues to have a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities,” Klein noted “Creating safer roadways requires action from each of us, and while the survey results show that people are concerned about distracted driving, they are still unfortunately taking dangerous risks.”

Of those surveyed:

  • Close to 50% think roads are less safe now than they were a year ago
  • 78% think distracted drivers is more of a problem than it has been in the past

When it comes to how employers feel about distracted driving:

  • 85% of company executives are concerned about their employees using their mobile phones while driving
  • That compares to 77% in 2023

The Travelers Risk Index found 68% of those execs say they’ve put distracted driving policies in place.

  • 53% have completely banned the use of hand-held devices for any reason
  • 84% have formally issued edicts about phone calls, texts and checking emails while driving
  • 66% require their employees to sign a policy document on those rules
  • 77% discipline their employees for not complying with the policy

Distracted driving often leads to pedestrian deaths. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) noted in the first 6 months of 2023, drivers hit and killed 3,373 pedestrians. That’s down 4% from 2022 but is a 19% jump over the 2019 statistics.

The biggest number pedestrian deaths happened in 2022 and 7,500 people died while walking along highways, roads and streets in the U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) recently listed the 10 worst states for pedestrian deaths. The statistics are from 2017 to 2021. Five PIA Western Alliance states — Hawaii, California Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico — are in the top 10.

Here are those statistics:

1. New Jersey

Pedestrians killed in crashes: 916

Total number of people killed in crashes: 3,030

Percentage of people killed in crashes that are pedestrians: 30.23%

2. Hawaii

Pedestrians killed in crashes: 138

Total number of people killed in crashes: 511

Percentage of people killed in crashes that are pedestrians: 27.01%

3. California

Pedestrians killed in crashes: 5,050

Total number of people killed in crashes: 19,666

Percentage of people killed in crashes that are pedestrians: 25.68%

4. New York

Pedestrians killed in crashes: 1,310

Total number of people killed in crashes: 5,106

Percentage of people killed in crashes that are pedestrians: 25.66%

5. Nevada

Pedestrians killed in crashes: 393

Total number of people killed in crashes: 1,662

Percentage of people killed in crashes that are pedestrians: 23.65%

6. Maryland

7. Delaware

8. Florida

9. Arizona

Pedestrians killed in crashes: 1,129

Total number of people killed in crashes: 5,221

Percentage of people killed in crashes that are pedestrians: 21.62%

10. New Mexico

Pedestrians killed in crashes: 422

Total number of people killed in crashes: 2,076

Percentage of people killed in crashes that are pedestrians: 20.33%

Source link: Insurance Journal — https://bit.ly/3xNkaGX

Source link: Carrier Management — https://bit.ly/3Ui6OLU

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com — https://bit.ly/4aXtbMc

About PIA Western Alliance

The Professional Insurance Agents Western Alliance is a membership organization promoting and enhancing the success of independent agencies seeking to grow, learn and be heard within the industry.


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