Tag Archives: Distraction

Long Road To Better Data On Drowsy, Drunk, Drugged And Distracted Driving

States are underreporting critical data from crash scenes that could make a big difference in efforts to prevent help prevent traffic fatalities and injuries.

A National Safety Council review of motor vehicle crash reports found that:

  • All 50 states lack fields or codes for law enforcement to record the level of driver fatigue at the time of a crash;
  • 26 state reports lack fields to capture texting;
  • 32 states lack fields to record hands-free cell phone use;
  • 32 states lack fields to identify specific types of drug use if drugs are detected, including marijuana.

States are also failing to capture teen driver restrictions (35 states), and the use of advanced driver assistance technologies (50 states) and of infotainment systems (47 states).

Excluding these fields limits the ability to effectively address these problems, NSC said.

“Collecting data from a crash scene may be seen as merely “filling out accident reports” for violation and insurance purposes. Data collection efforts immediately following a crash provide a unique opportunity to help guide prevention strategies. Currently, some states are recording this type of data and others are not. When data of this kind is requested to be reported on a crash report and is entered, prevention professionals will have the data to better understand driver and non-motorist behaviors. When this data is not recorded, prevention professionals are left guessing.”

The call for better data collection follows the release of NSC figures showing that in 2016 there were more than 40,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. for the first time in 10 years.

A recent I.I.I. white paper found that in the past two years, both the accident rate and the size of insurance claims have climbed dramatically. These are the largest and most volatile components of auto insurance.

Check out additional I.I.I. facts and statistics on highway safety.

Insurers Innovating To Prevent Driver Distraction

The distracted driving epidemic, and its impact on highway accidents and the cost of auto insurance, continues to be all over the news.

A 2016 underwriting loss of $7 billion for State Farm’s auto insurance business, announced earlier this week, prompted the latest wave of headlines (see Bloomberg report).

Smartphones and gadgets and screens installed in new cars are two major sources of distraction, the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

While technology is part of the problem, it is also part of the solution (see earlier T+C post). A number of insurers are already partnering with technology companies to offer solutions to prevent distracted driving.

Digital Insurance features some of the latest technologies introduced by insurers here. The list includes a distracted driving simulator brought into schools as part of Arbella Insurance’s Distractology program, as well as apps that integrate with usage-based insurance programs to curb distracted driving (see here and here).

An Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) white paper on how more auto accidents and larger claims are driving costs higher is available here.

I.I.I. advice on how to keep your auto insurance affordable here.

Insurers Active In Auto Crash Prevention Efforts

2016 may have been the deadliest year on the roads since 2007, with an estimated cost to society of $432 billion, according to preliminary data released by the National Safety Council (NSC).

“As many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016, a 6 percent increase over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014—the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years.”

A recent Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) white paper on personal auto insurance offered this prescient warning:

“There has been an alarming increase in crashes and claims reported. This, combined with the cost of the claims themselves, has led to a dramatic rise in the overall loss cost.”

And:

Technology is both improving and complicating matters, making vehicles safer but at the same time amplifying possible driver distractions, as discussed in this New York Times article.

The NSC call for life-saving measures, includes:

Extend laws banning all cell phone use – including hands-free – to all drivers, not just teens; upgrade enforcement from secondary to primary in states with existing bans.

I.I.I. tips on how to keep your auto insurance affordable here.

Distracted Driving? There’s An App To Prevent That

Is Apple liable over a fatal car crash involving FaceTime? That’s the question being asked in a lawsuit filed against Apple by the family of a five-year-old girl killed in a Texas car crash.

Moriah Modisette was killed and her father seriously injured when driver Garrett Willhelm plowed into their car at 65 mph on a Texas highway on Christmas Eve 2014.

As reported by Fortune, Willhelm was chatting on FaceTime at the time of the crash, and the app was still running as rescue workers tried to extricate the injured passengers from the mangled car.

In the lawsuit, the family claims that Apple had failed to install a “lock-out” feature on FaceTime that would prevent drivers from using the app while on the road.

The lawsuit underscores why liability insurance and product liability insurance are important for businesses.

After years of decline in road fatalities, numbers were up 8 percent in 2015. Many believe the rise is due at least in part to distracted driving.

In 2014, 3,179 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes, and 431,000 people injured, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

But apps are not all bad. Several app developers are working to create ways to help make your cellphone a tool in the fight against distracted driving, rather than a cause of it.

Check out DMV.org for distracted driving apps that incentivize safe driving by keeping your attention off your phone and on the road.

USA Today reviewed other apps aimed at preventing distracted driving here.

Catching All The Candy

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If your little monsters are determined to hunt down some spooky Pokémon on their trick-or-treat route this Halloween, be sure that the fun of finding Ghastly or Haunter doesn’t turn into a deadly distraction.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

Excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, the American Automobile Association (AAA) warns, so motorists and parents must be even more alert.

The AAA offers these tips to keep young ones safe on Halloween.

Meanwhile, Pokémon GO’s virtual Halloween update is reportedly drawing players back to the mobile app that took the world by storm earlier this summer.

While catching all the candy could be a healthy alternative to eating all the candy, there are also some side effects that could prove hazardous.

Researchers at San Diego State University and UC San Diego found about 113,000 total incidences of a driver, passenger or pedestrian distracted by Pokémon GO in their review of Twitter postings over just a 10-day period (July 10 through July 19, 2016).

There were also 14 unique crashes—1 player drove his car into a tree—attributed to Pokémon GO in news reports during the same period.

The researchers noted that by rewarding movement Pokémon GO incentivizes physical activity.

“However, if players use their cars to search for Pokémon they negate any health benefit and incur serious risk.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The good news is that injuries and property damage resulting from distracted Pokémon GO users are for the most part covered by insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

In its smart road tips for Halloween safety, Consumer Reports advises the public not to use a cell phone or other mobile device while driving and to pull over safely to check voice messages or texts.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on highway safety and distracted driving here.

Wishing all our readers a safe and happy Halloween!

Distracted Drivers, Meet the Textalyzer

After years of decline in road fatalities, numbers were up 8 percent in 2015. Many believe the rise is due at least in part to distracted driving and advocates are looking to programs that have successfully curtailed drunk driving for potential solutions.

The New York Times reports that one idea from New York lawmakers, would give police officers a new digital device that is the equivalent of the Breathalyzer — a roadside test called the Textalyzer.

An officer arriving at the scene of a crash could ask for the phones of any drivers involved and use the Textalyzer to tap into the operating system to check for recent activity, according to the New York Times article.

“The technology could determine whether a driver had used the phone to text, email or do anything else that is forbidden under New York’s hands-free driving laws, which prohibit drivers from holding phones to their ears. Failure to hand over a phone could lead to the suspension of a driver’s license, similar to the consequences for refusing a Breathalyser.”

However, the proposed legislation faces hurdles to becoming law, including privacy concerns, even though the Textalyzer bill would not give the police access to contents of any emails or texts.

If the law were to pass in New York, some believe it could spread across other states in the same way that the hands-free rules did after New York adopted them.

This is an interesting idea. The insurance industry has long been a major supporter of anti-drunk driving and seatbelt usage campaigns.

Distraction was a factor in 10 percent of fatal crashes reported in 2013, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. Some 14 percent of distraction-affected crashes occurred while a cell phone was in use, the NHTSA notes.

A Highway Loss Data Institute study of collision claims patterns in four states (California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington) also found that texting bans may not reduce crash rates. Collisions went up slightly in all the states, except Washington, where the change was statistically insignificant.

The use of technology to better assess risk is something that insurers embrace in many different lines of business, including auto and health. Clearly, privacy concerns will need to be weighed, but this is a novel approach to tackling the distracted driving problem.

Check out Insurance Information Institute statistics on distracted driving here.

Study: Majority of Distracted Drivers Lost in Thought

While the dangers of texting and driving get a lot of headlines, you might be surprised at the findings of a new study by Erie Insurance that show daydreaming behind the wheel is even more dangerous.

Erie’s analysis found that 62 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal car crashes were described by police as daydreaming or “lost in thought†.

The police report data analyzed by Erie in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reveal that of the more than 65,000 people killed in car crashes over the past two years, one in 10 were in crashes where at least one of the drivers was distracted.

Erie did  point out  that because FARS data on distraction is based largely on police officers’ judgment at the time of the crash, and because some people may be reluctant to admit they were distracted when being interviewed by police after a fatal car crash, the numbers are difficult to verify and may, in fact, under-represent the seriousness and prevalence of driving distractions.

As well as daydreaming, police listed several more specific types of distractions.  Below are the  top 10 distractions involved in fatal car crashes:

New Research On Texting Drivers Shows Greater Risk

Emailing or texting drivers are an even greater danger on the road than previously thought, according to a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute.

Researchers found that a driver’s reaction time is doubled when distracted by reading or sending a text message.

Reaction times with no texting activity were typically between one and two seconds. However, reaction times while texting were at least three to four seconds.

Worse yet, drivers were more than 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light altogether when they were texting.

Researchers also measured each driver’s ability to maintain proper lane position and a constant speed. They found texting drivers were less able to safely maintain their position in the driving lane or to maintain a constant speed while texting.

The study is the first published work in the U.S. to examine texting while driving in an actual driving environment.

Federal statistics suggest that distracted driving contributes to as much as 20 percent of all fatal crashes, and that cell phones constitute the primary source of driver distraction.

Researchers point to two numbers to illustrate the magnitude of the texting while driving problem: an estimated 5 billion text messages are sent each day in the United States, and at least 20 percent of all drivers have admitted to texting while driving.

Check out this Reuters report for more on the study findings.

This  I.I.I.  background paper  has more on this topic.

The Science Of Sidewalk Rage

A story on sidewalk rage is all the rage right now, thanks to the Wall Street Journal.

Do you get impatient in a crowded area? Bump into others, or act in a hostile manner by staring or giving them a mean face when they walk too slowly? Have you ever thought about punching slow walking people in the back of the head?

If so, you could be suffering from Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome, otherwise known as “sidewalk rage†.

There’s even a Facebook group called “I Secretly Want To Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head† with more than 15,000 members. The “I Secretly Want To Trip Fast Walking People† Facebook group has only 62 members, however.

At its most extreme sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,† the Wall Street Journal reports.

Researchers are now looking into what triggers such rage and what that experience is like according to a scientist at Colorado State University quoted in the story who studies anger and road rage.

But what about distracted pedestrians?

I think we can all relate to the challenges of sharing the sidewalk with cell phone talkers or text and walkers.

Finally, the WSJ notes that people slow down when distracted by other activities too. It cites a 2006 study by the City of New York and the NYC Department of City Planning that showed smokers walk 2.3 percent slower than the average walker’s 4.27 feet per second, while cell phone talkers walk 1.6 percent slower.

A recent New York Times article looked at the growing dangers of distracted pedestrians.

The problem has prompted lawmakers in several states to introduce legislation that would ban the use of cell phones, iPods or other electronic devices by people running or walking on the street or sidewalk.

Maybe it’s not just anger management, but electronic gadget management – on the roads and sidewalks – that we all need.

Check out I.I.I. information on distracted driving.

Beware Romantic Distractions

It’s Valentine’s Day, and maybe you’re planning on driving your sweetheart to dinner. Before you do, consider this: romantic distractions while driving can be dangerous year round  Ã¢â‚¬“ not just on Valentine’s Day, according to a poll conducted for InsuranceQuotes.com.

The poll found nearly one-third of American drivers are smooching or engaging in other romantic contact while they’re behind the wheel.

Some 29 percent of drivers surveyed acknowledge they’ve been amorous behind the wheel throughout the year – not just on Valentine’s Day.

That number climbs to 39 percent for highly educated drivers (at least a bachelor’s degree) and high-income drivers (at least $75,000 in annual earnings).

Over to John Egan, managing editor of InsuranceQuotes.com:

Sixteen percent of fatal crashes in 2009 were attributed to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Given that statistic, it’s wise to keep your eyes on the road, rather than on your sweetheart.†

Check out further I.I.I. information on distracted driving.

Hat tip to Insurance Journal for more on this story.