Tag Archives: distracted driving

Pledge to Put Your #phonedown

In 2016, California teen Amanda Clark was on the phone when her Chevrolet Trailblazer rolled three times, landing on its roof. According to the Sacramento Bee, Clark wrote: “I hate the thought of dying without my family knowing how I felt about them.”

Yet one year later, Clark was in a second auto accident. She was driving while on the phone again and lost control of her car. Cellphone records showed that she was texting. She was found unresponsive at the scene and died the next day.

These stories of distracted driving are becoming more common among U.S. drivers, sadly. Drivers continue to pick up their cellphones—for social media reasons, nonetheless—while behind the wheel, removing their attention from what’s happening around them to focus on a five-inch screen.

As April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month arrives, DriversEd.com has released new survey data in its 2019 Distracted Driving and Social Media Report. The most alarming findings: 55% of surveyed participants admit to checking social media while behind the wheel, and 25% said they’ve even recorded a video while behind the wheel.

“There’s no way around it: The data is startling. I wish I could say the solution is as simple as parents talking to their teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. But parents are also the ones checking their Facebook, watching YouTube videos and recording Instagram videos,” said Laura Adams, safety and education analyst at DriversEd.com. “We are in an ever-growing distracted driving crisis, and the consequences are deadly.

“For many drivers, health and safety take a backseat to their likes and shares,” Adams added.

See also: 5 Steps to Understand Distracted Driving  

Why is this problem still so prevalent?

Part of the problem actually has to do with hearing those scary statistics: We don’t really believe they apply to us. It’s a phenomenon that cognitive scientist Tali Sharot named The Optimism Bias. Basically, when people think about their own futures, they tend to overestimate the likelihood that good things will happen and underestimate the likelihood of bad things. In the context of driving, that means we overestimate our own capabilities. In fact, one study showed that 93% of U.S. drivers think that they’re in the top 50% of safe drivers. Thus, drivers also underestimate their likelihood of being in a car accident. This would explain why so many drivers will agree that texting while driving is bad but admit to doing it anyway: We know it’s dangerous in general, but we don’t quite grasp how much of a risk it is to ourselves specifically.

Take it from a teen…

Grace Keller, a former DriversEd.com student and guest teen contributor, suggested drivers keep their belongings, including cellphones, in other parts of the car to avoid distracted driving behavior.

“I usually throw my backpack in the back seat with my phone and all my other potential distractions in it, so that I don’t even become tempted. Though I admit it can be difficult — I mean, we’re all living in a very high-tech society where we feel the need to constantly be plugged into our social media, group-chats, etc., but whatever it is you need to look at or check up on can wait,” she stated.

How you can help

The National Safety Council is asking the public to use these life-saving measures to help curb the growing rates of distracted driving–related injuries and fatalities:

  1. Commit to putting your #phonedown. Stow your cellphone in your purse, backpack or trunk to keep it out of reach. If it’s needed for GPS use, switch to “auto mode” to turn off notifications and calls.
  2. Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits. Parents should lead by example by putting their phones down. Head to “Parents: Tools to help your teen resist using their phones,” on DriversEd.com for more parent-focused information.
  3. Practice defensive driving. Buckle up and keep in-car distractions (passengers, music, etc.) at a minimum to focus on the road ahead. Be sure to get enough sleep to avoid fatigue and drive attentively.
  4. Recognize the dangers of drugged driving. From prescription opioids to alcohol to marijuana use, learn how each one impairs your ability to drive safely. Visit www.stopeverydaykillers.org to learn more.
  5. Fix recalls immediately. See if your vehicle is currently under recall by visiting www.checktoprotect.org.
  6. Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways. The National Safety Council’s State of Safety report shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws.

See also: Distracted Driving — an Infographic  

The 2019 Distracted Driving and Social Media Report was conducted by DriversEd.com as a follow-up to its more broadly focused 2018 Distracted Driving in America Report and zeroes in on risky behind-the-wheel social media behavior: feed checking, video watching and video recording, providing insight on the current state—and dangers—of distracted driving and social media use.

The survey was conducted online using Survey Monkey. One thousand, twenty-nine participants were polled, spanning across the U.S., with the U.S. driving population represented by the 943 respondents who, before completing the survey, answered that they have a driver’s license. Of those 943 respondents, 522 answered that, while behind the wheel, they have checked social media while either at a red light, at a stop sign, stuck in traffic or moving on the road. Those 522 respondents represent drivers who admit to checking social media while driving. The demographics of those polled represented a broad range of household income, geographic location, age and gender.

The article was originally published on DriversEd.com.

5 Steps to Understand Distracted Driving

For anyone involved in vehicular transportation, it’s accepted that distracted driving is a deadly problem that needs continued attention. Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a detailed research report on Distracted Driving in 2016. According to the NHTSA’s statistics:

  • Nine percent of fatal crashes in 2016 were reported as distraction-affected crashes
  • In 2016, there were 3,450 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
  • Six percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
  • Nine percent of drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.
  • In 2016, there were 562 nonoccupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and others) killed in distraction-affected crashes

Notice that teen drivers are the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of fatal crashes. However, a recent Arity survey shows that millennials are significantly less likely than the general population to say that “I never multi-task while driving” (48% vs 57%). What does this say about that demographic? With National Teen Driver Safety Week approaching at the end this month, it’s important to fuel this age range with the danger that distracted driving imposes on them.

Here at Arity, we used our own data to compare the rate of smartphone penetration in the US, with distracted driving activity of telematics users and industry losses. Our research goes a step further to demonstrate that this problem is only getting worse. The percentage of losses attributed to distraction over the last several years has tripled, costing the industry an estimated $9 billion annually.

See also: Distracted Driving — an Infographic  

The insurance industry has taken a multi-pronged approach to reduce distracted driving. In addition to high-profile campaigns designed to raise general awareness of distracted driving, such as AT&T’s #ItCanWait initiative, distracted driving solutions have been developed by insurance providers, OEMs and shared mobility and telecommunications companies.

As these solutions get closer to reality, there are a few core elements to consider. Here is a five-step process for the creation of a superior recipe for distracted driving detection:

  1. Mobile Phone, No Substitutes: While embedded systems and OBD devices are the gold standard for assessing vehicular motion and risky driving patterns, today there is no substitute for the mobile phone in distracted driving detection. The mobile phone is the leading culprit fueling higher rates of distracted driving accidents. Pinpointing mobile phone movement and interaction is the most robust way to identify and prevent these risks.
  2. One Part Movement, One Part Interaction: Phone movement only reveals part of the story. Distracted driving algorithms that rely solely on sensor information―accelerometer for translational motion, gyroscope for rotational motion, gravitometer for orientation, etc.―will be subject to false positives and false negatives. For instance, a motorcyclist with a phone safely in his pocket could be unfairly penalized each time he puts his foot down at a stop for balance.
  3. Measure Each Ingredient Carefully: Not all forms of distracted driving are equally risky. Checking navigation while stopped at a traffic light is generally less risky than taking a selfie while speeding down the beltline during rush hour. To effectively assess relative risks, there are two fundamental considerations: context and mode. Context means, what were the conditions present at the time of the distracted driving behavior? At what speed was the car being driven; what was the weather like; was there traffic? Mode means, what distracted driving behaviors were taking place? Phone call; texting; navigation; gameplay; etc.
  4. Monitor Continuously: Discrete or instantaneous markers only tell part of the story. For instance, counting only moments of large phone movement omits important information about the behaviors that took place interstitially. We can conceptualize distracted driving in terms of continuous sessions and endeavor to identify the starts and ends of these sessions. The total duration of distracted driving will provide the most predictive metrics for risk.
  5. Modeling Bakeoff: Distracted driving models can be founded on logic and intuition, but they should be developed and validated with a data-driven approach. For the best solution to emerge, many alternatives should be assessed relative to their performance on labeled data sets―data sets composed of both telematics data as well as reliable labels for the periods of distracted driving. An example of this blended approach would be the Arity and Allstate research that estimated the cost of distracted driving for the insurance industry at $9 billion. This insight was derived from data sourced from national smart phone usage, vehicle telematics and incident claims data.

See also: Distracted Driving: a Job for Insurtech?  

At Arity, our mission is to make transportation smarter, safer and more useful for everyone, and understanding and eliminating distracted driving is central to why the company was founded. What’s important is that we don’t see this solely as a technical problem. Aside from understanding the true behaviors that are causing insurance loss, we must also provide a meaningful experience to the driver to eliminate the behavior. It’s important that we don’t stop learning and experimenting; there’s so much more we can do to #enddistracteddriving.

Distracted Driving — an Infographic

Distracted driving is having a tremendous impact on insurance rates.

Distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents

Increasing technology has seen the development of user-friendly mobile devices that have been the leading agents of distractions when it comes to driving. Distracted drivers have always existed. However, their number drastically increased with the invention of new applications for smartphones. Distracted driving has been found to be an increasing problem especially among the youth.

More accidents equate to higher policy premiums

Studies show that a distracted driver is 23 times more likely to cause an accident while using a cell phone. The Boston Globe reports that policy providers in Massachusetts received approval to raise rates by as much as 5% in 2017.

See also: Distracted Driving: a Job for Insurtech?  

Insurance costs rise drastically

Many campaigns have been launched countrywide in a bid to sensitize drivers on how to keep their mind on the road and hands on the wheel. However, overconfidence and lack of focus has seen more drivers lose their lives due to distracted driving — 52% of road accidents had significant phone distraction before the accident, according to Cambridge Mobile Telematics.

Everyone should take part in curbing distractions while driving to help moderate insurance rates. Strict actions should be taken on those violating traffic rules. It is also important to report any road or accident-related cases to a car accident attorney.

Distracted Living: The Implications

One important trend in society over the past decade is our increasing ability to create and consume a seemingly unlimited amount of digital content. Whether the content is for information, entertainment or commerce, the result is that most people are staring at screens of various sizes and swiping, typing, pinching, voice-commanding or interacting with the content in some other way. The services and our ability to communicate and conduct business has had a major impact on society in general, affecting virtually every segment of our world. While there are many good and positive outcomes emanating from the digital world, there are also negative consequences. One of those is the increase in what I call distracted living.

See also: Distracted Driving: a Job for Insurtech?  

Distracted driving, a well-known phenomenon, has major negative implications for insurers and society. The “need” to send text messages, participate in phone calls, do web searches and interact with the vehicles navigation/entertainment system all take attention away from driving. Insurers are painfully aware of this problem, as it has caused a spike in accidents in recent years. But this is not the only type of distraction that can cause problems. Examples of distracted living that can be just as harmful or even dangerous include:

  • Pedestrian accidents. There are many cases of pedestrians walking into traffic, bumping into buildings or falling into fountains due to their rapt attention to content on their smartphones. While YouTube is filled with funny videos of incidents involving the oblivious people, serious accidents have resulted, as well.
  • Lost productivity at work. Many studies have been conducted on employees’ use of social media and other internet services during work hours. Although many companies have policies to limit usage, it is still a serious problem for employers.
  • Workplace accidents. It is one thing for employees to surf the web, text or watch sports highlight videos while at their desks, but quite another when employees on the move at work sites are staring at a screen. Imagine employees who become distracted on constructions sites, in factories with dangerous chemicals or while operating machines. It is easy to see how more workplace accidents can happen.
  • Operators in public transportation. Drivers of trains, planes, ships, streetcars, buses and other types of public transportation must keep their complete attention focused on the task at hand. Yet, there have already been cases of accidents caused by operators who were distracted.
  • Mental health issues. Social media has been a positive force for many individuals, fostering community and connection. But for others, the social media world may result in frayed personal relationships or obsessions, or may lead to mental health issues.

See also: Technology Addiction: A Fatal Distraction  

These are but a few examples of how the easy availability of digital content takes our attention away from important activities. Although many of these are insignificant from an actuarial standpoint for insurers (besides distracted driving), distracted living is still a cause for concern and a trend that the industry should continue to monitor.

Insurtech Innovators – Smart Drivinc

“We provide a solution for distracted driving and our solution has both a hardware part and a software part: a hardware gadget sits behind the steering wheel and it identifies who is driving the car and the software app is always running in the background and the user phone identifies what apps user is using while he’s driving, how long and how often he is using,” says Krishna Ashili, Chief Technology Officer of Smart Drivinc

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