Distracted driving and your insurance client’s employees

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Provide these stats to encourage your clients to enact a distracted driving policy

Distracted driving is a factor in 80 percent of crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), claiming 3,522 lives in 2021 (latest figures available). Distracted driving is not only increasing auto accidents and raising personal auto rates, it’s also an increasing fleet safety issue that is severely impacting commercial auto rates.

But what, exactly, is distracted driving? In its broadest form, distracted driving is behavior that delays identification or recognition of road conditions or other information required for safe driving. This can be due to a variety of activities, events, objects or persons either within or outside of the vehicle that interfere with the driver’s attention to circumambient road conditions.

Drivers engage in potentially distracting secondary tasks approximately 30 percent of the time their vehicles are in motion, according to an NHTSA report. Conversation with passengers is the secondary task most frequently engaged in.

According to an article from The Hartford, other distractions include:

  • Talking or texting on a cell phone
  • Eating and reading
  • Manipulating controls such as the radio, GPS or air temperature
  • Navigation and hand-held computers or devices
  • Smoking
  • Route problems, i.e., looking for route and/or traffic signs
  • Unfamiliar situations such as staring at an automobile crash
Related: How to get started creating your risk management plan


Should you ban cell phone use while driving?

Here’s how a number of safety organizations weigh in on cell phones and distracted driving:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that, “As of November 2021 talking on a handheld cell phone was prohibited in 24 States (IIHS, 2021b). No State completely bans all types of cell phone use for all drivers. Bans on texting are more common than bans on handheld cell phone use.”
  • The National Safety Council’s distracted driving policy includes this statement: “New technology in vehicles is causing us to become more distracted behind the wheel than ever before. Fifty-three percent of drivers believe if manufacturers put ‘infotainment’ dashboards and hands-free technology in vehicles, they must be safe…But in fact, these technologies distract our brains — and continue to distract us long after we’ve used them. Make no mistake: This multitasking technology is about convenience, not safety.”
  • The American Society of Safety Engineers’ Position Statement on Distracted Driving in Motor Vehicles says, “The Society’s view is that operating a vehicle while distracted is always a potentially unsafe act, and all drivers should be cognizant of the hazards associated with distracted driving.” They go on to recommend to their members, “Encourage and support employer rules banning any employee use of electronic devices while driving, including proactive training of employees about the risks associated with electronic devices and other sources of distracted driving.”
Related: Should your commercial clients have an employee mobile phone policy?


More distracted driving facts to share with your clients

If your commercial insurance client is on the fence about the importance of a zero distracted driving policy, here are a few statistics to share with them:

  • Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • No difference exists in cognitive distraction between hand held and hands-free devices. Research shows that driving while using a cell phone can pose serious cognitive distraction and degrade driver performance. (National Safety Council)
  • 80 percent of crashes are related to driver inattention. The number one source of driver inattention is cell phones. (New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee)

As the insurance consultant for your commercial clients, you can help them weigh the benefits of cell phone use against the costs of potential liabilities.

This article originally appeared on Arrowhead General Insurance Agency’s blog. It is used with permission and has been updated to better fit the needs of ACM’s customers.