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Bruner's Insurance Tampa - Distracted Driver Risks

By bruners33618, Aug 1 2017 02:17PM

According to a recent National Safety Council (NSC) poll,2

distracted driving ranks near the top of traffic safety concerns for drivers – second only to drunken driving. They are right to be

worried. Distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in 2015 alone.3

As many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 – the most traffic fatalities

in nine years4

– and while that startling statistic encompasses much more than distracted

driving-related incidents, the NSC’s survey insights include the troubling note that 47 percent of

respondents feel comfortable texting either manually or through voice controls while driving.5

While cell phone usage is a major factor in distracted driving incidents, it is by no means the

only one.

What distracts us

Distracted driving is broadly considered to be any activity that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel

of the vehicle, draws eyes away from the road or simply takes the mind to another place.

Overall cognitive distraction can be a bigger risk than physical distraction alone.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies these as examples

of distractions6

that endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety:

Reaching for something or swatting an insect are also common distractions. Distraction can

also be several things at once. For example, “rubbernecking” as you pass a crash not only

takes your eyes away from the road, but also creates mental distractions when asking yourself,

“What happened?”, “Were there any injuries?” and “Do I know those involved?”

Hands-free is not the solution

According to more than 30 scientific research studies and reports, using hands-free devices

is not significantly different from holding a phone in terms of traffic safety,7

regardless of the

legality of one use versus the other. Though hands-free devices may eliminate some physical

distraction, they may not alleviate cognitive distraction. When a person concentrates on a

conversation instead of the road, his or her driving can suffer.

• Texting or talking on a phone

• Eating and drinking

• Talking to passengers

• Grooming

• Reading, including maps

• Using a navigation system

• Watching a video

• Adjusting a radio, or other device

Distracted driving: an avoidable risk

Texting is just one factor in a leading cause of vehicle crashes

Our complacency is killing us.

Americans believe there is nothing

we can do to stop crashes from

happening, but that isn’t true.”

– Deborah A.P. Hersman

National Safety Council

President and CEO.1

Mitigating distraction

Plan calls

Establish times when the driver can pull off the road and be available for communications

(whether by text, email or telephone).

Ignore the phone

Calls cannot always be scheduled. Establish a culture where allowing callers to leave messages

to be returned at the earliest convenience (i.e., when it is safe to do so) is acceptable.

Drive defensively

Defensive driving techniques can provide more time to respond to changing driving conditions.

• Pre-set temperature and radio controls.

• Clear windows of frost, ice, snow or debris before driving.

• Increase following distance (at least four seconds in normal conditions in a sedan and

longer in larger vehicles or adverse conditions).13

• Be aware of what is occurring ahead of the vehicle (scanning 10-15 seconds ahead).14

• In inclement weather, slow down and allow for increased stopping distances and poor visibility.

• Deal with distractions in a safe location, while parked.

What the numbers tell us

• The average person reads a text in

about 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, a

car travels 80 feet every second.

Reading a text while driving is like

driving the length of a football

field blindfolded.8

• At any given time during daylight

hours in the U.S., upward of

660,000 drivers are using their

phone or texting.9

• There were 3,477 fatalities in

distraction-affected crashes in

2015, an 8.8 percent increase

from 2014.10

• More than 2 in 3 drivers reported

talking on a cell phone while driving

within a one-month period and 1 in

3 say they do so regularly.11

• Drivers using cell phones

(handheld or hands-free) fail

to see up to 50 percent of

their driving environment–

a phenomenon knowns as

“inattention blindness.”12

The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes

only. All sample policies and procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your

own policies and procedures. We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations

and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavor. Any and all information

contained herein is not intended to constitute advice (particularly not legal advice). Accordingly, persons requiring

advice should consult independent advisors when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the

accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and

sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. We

undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information,

future developments, events or circumstances or otherwise. Moreover, Zurich reminds you that this cannot

be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might

not be appropriate under the circumstances. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific

insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy.

© 2017 Zurich American Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

A1-112004978-B (04/17) 112009378


1299 Zurich Way, Schaumburg, Illinois 60196-1056

800 382 2150


1. National Safety Council. “2016 Motor Vehicle Deaths Estimated to be Highest in Nine Years.” Accessed 13 April 2017.

2. National Safety Council. Driver Safety Public Opinion Poll. February 2017.

3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Distracted Driving home page. Accessed 13 April 2017.

4. National Safety Council. “2016 Motor Vehicle Deaths Estimated to be Highest in Nine Years.”

5. National Safety Council. Driver Safety Public Opinion Poll.

6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

7. National Safety Council. “Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while using hands-free cell phones is risky behavior.”

April 2012.

8. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Distracted Driving flyer. 2012.

9. “Driver Electronic Device Use in 2011.” Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. April 2013.

10. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

11. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. 2016 Traffic Safety Culture Index. February 2017.

12. National Safety Council. “Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while using hands-free cell phones is risky behavior.”

13. Forman, R. “The Four-second Solution to Rear-end Collisions.” Commercial Carrier Journal.

14. State of California Department of Motor Vehicles website. Accessed 24 April 2017.

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