A quarter of Americans are OK with distracted driving

Posted: 16 April 2018 2:29 pm


Survey shows most understand the risks but 25% do it anyway.

A recent survey by the Travelers Institute shows that in spite of being aware of the risks, nearly a quarter of the US population believes it can drive distracted without getting into an accident.

The 2018 Travelers Risk Index highlights drivers’ and passengers’ perceived risks concerning distracted driving. The survey’s findings confirm that even though 85% of respondents understand the risks of using electronic distractions like tablets or smartphones while driving, nearly 25% still do it. One estimation shows that 660,000 drivers use electronic devices when driving during the day.

More about distracted driving

Distracted driving has become an increasing problem on our nation’s roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that 3,450 people died in 2016 from distracted driving. Moreover, 391,000 injuries occurred in 2015 as a result of crashes from distracted driving.

The NHTSA points out that texting takes your attention off the road for five seconds. If you’re driving 55 mph, the result is similar to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

While texting at the wheel is undoubtedly the most common and dangerous distraction, it’s not the only unsafe activity to do behind the wheel. Distracted driving encompasses a much broader range of distractions.

These distractions can be visual or cognitive. Chris Hayes, a Travelers safety professional, says any activity that occupies your mind or vision can be a distraction behind the wheel.

“While many distracted driving studies focus on cell phones, any type of multitasking activity and driving simply do not mix,” Hayes emphasized.

These activities may include using your smartphone, eating or drinking, texting, talking to others in your vehicle, grooming habits, reading or adjusting your MP3 player or radio.

Alarming statistics show we’re more distracted than ever

The Traveler’s survey also shows that the majority of people admitted their concern about distracted driving. Unfortunately, those concerns aren’t enough to prevent some of the same respondents from taking their own risks on the road.

  • 61% admit to responding to calls, emails or texts while driving. The reason most do so is that they’re concerned about getting notified of an emergency.
  • 23% of distracted drivers are worried they might miss something if they stay unplugged from their electronic device for too long.
  • 25% believe they can safely perform multiple tasks while driving.
  • Only 12% of those surveyed are proactively taking measures to prevent themselves from driving distracted. Most do so by using the “auto reply” and “do not disturb” functions on their cell phones.

Travelers Institute President and Executive Vice President of Public Policy Joan Woodward points out the survey results are telling.

“There’s clearly a disconnect between drivers’ perception of what is safe and the reality of what is happening on our roads.”

Insurance companies jumping on the bandwagon to prevent distracted driving

Several car insurance companies can’t help but recognize the problem of distracted driving and have started offering incentives to policyholders who will commit to distracted-free driving.

Some reward safe drivers and others increase rates to drivers who break the rules. Many of the major insurance companies use in-car tracking devices to determine whether a driver is operating their vehicle while texting or using their smartphone.

Travelers compared its Risk Index findings with a leading smartphone app, TrueMotion, and the results showed that almost 40% of drivers are distracted for 15 minutes of each hour driven. Clearly, car insurance companies can use data like this to encourage their drivers to put down the phone and save big bucks on their coverage. The huge benefit is the incentive can save lives in the process.

Find out if your car insurance company offers discounts for distraction-free driving.

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