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2024 Driving Reports Suggest Increased Risks

Posted by Tim Fox on May 22, 2024 12:18:33 PM

Recent surveys and reports released by Nationwide and Travelers in 2024 paint a troubling picture of driving behavior across the United States. The data indicates a significant rise in dangerous driving habits, leading to an increased risk of road incidents. This trend threatens personal safety and the financial well-being of individual business owners. It also indicates a correlation between driving behavior and auto insurance costs. As drivers become more reckless, the potential for accidents and associated costs escalates, highlighting an urgent need for a renewed focus on road safety and responsible driving practices.

Understanding what has led to this change in behavior and the potential implications can ensure those behind the wheel, running a fleet, or on the road can be more cautious of their behaviors and those of others.

Driving Behavior Surveys Indicate Rise in Distracted Drivers

The Travelers Companies, Inc. released their 2024 index on distracted driving, and the results are concerning. According to their risk index, distracted driving is significantly rising, with more than half the survey respondents expressing they feel roads are less safe than they were in years prior. Distracted driving is a leading factor in both road accidents and fatalities, accounting for 8% of all fatal road collisions.

When you're distracted while driving, it can be visual, manual, or cognitive.

  • Visual distractions happen when you take your eyes off the road. Examples include checking your GPS, looking at your phone, or watching other cars instead of focusing on the traffic around you.
  • Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the wheel. Examples include eating, using your phone, adjusting the radio, or grabbing something in the car.
  • Cognitive distractions occur when one's mind is not focused on driving, such as thinking or “zoning out.” These distractions can lead to poor driving, delayed cognition, and an increased risk of collision.

The 2024 Index on Distracted Driving indicated the following behavioral increases:

  • Using social media: up 13%
  • Typing a text or email: up 10%
  • Talking on a cellphone (hands-free): up 10%
  • Using a cellphone to record videos/take photos: up 9%.
  • Reading a text or email: up 9%

These statistics are alarming for both individuals and company owners alike. For individuals, the heightened prevalence of risky driving behaviors poses a significant threat to personal safety. Even if individuals adhere to safe driving practices, the actions of other drivers on the road who engage in reckless behavior increase the risk of collisions or other dangerous road incidents. Meanwhile, the implications are twofold for company owners, particularly those overseeing fleets or transportation services. Firstly, their drivers may inadvertently heighten their liability risks through unsafe driving practices. Secondly, there's a concern for the safety of their employees, cargo, and other road users.

Ensuring drivers adhere to safety measures is imperative to mitigate these risks and uphold the safety standards expected under their direction.

Drivers Rate Themselves Highly but are Critical of Others

Nationwide's 2024 Driving Behavior Survey found that while many drivers think they're good at driving and don't exhibit distracted behaviors, most think others are bad drivers and roads are unsafe. This suggests an unwillingness to take responsibility for driving dangers, making it hard to improve. Both commercial and regular drivers say there are more accidents now, often because of speeding, phone use, or aggressive driving. In addition, stress levels while driving have increased because of road aggression, and commercial drivers noted it is challenging to focus when distracted by technology like GPS or radios.

Despite widespread recognition of deteriorating road conditions and escalating risks, there is a collective reluctance to assume responsibility for improving driving habits. This reluctance not only perpetuates unsafe practices but also exacerbates the strain on both commercial and private drivers. With rising accidents and stress levels mounting, stakeholders across the board must prioritize safety measures and address the root causes driving these trends. Efforts to mitigate distractions, curb aggressive driving behaviors, and enhance driver training programs are essential to fostering safer roads for all drivers.

How Driving Behaviors Impact Auto Costs

As driving behaviors become riskier, the impact extends beyond safety concerns to directly affect auto costs, particularly insurance expenses. With the rising risk of accidents, insurance companies will adjust their premiums to account for the increased potential for vehicle damage. Consequently, insurance costs continue to climb to offset these heightened risks. Additionally, the uptick in accidents necessitates more frequent repairs, driving up labor costs. Combined with existing labor shortages, this increased workload further inflates labor expenses.

Lastly, the shortages of car parts supply, exacerbated by pandemic-related disruptions, are further strained by heightened demand, resulting in price hikes for these essential components. The trickle-down effect of driving behaviors highlights the significant financial ramifications for auto owners.

Safety Measures to Improve Driving Behavior

While driving behaviors are becoming increasingly riskier, there are steps that company owners can take to improve the driving of their employees, and individuals in passenger vehicles can integrate into their practices.  Improving driving behavior can be achieved through several effective safety measures.  This includes:

Regular driver training and education: By providing drivers with ongoing training sessions and educational resources, they can enhance their knowledge of safe driving practices and stay updated on relevant traffic laws and regulations. This equips them with the skills to navigate various road conditions confidently and responsibly.

Strict enforcement of traffic laws and regulations: Adhering to traffic laws is essential for promoting safe driving behavior. Enforcing strict compliance with these laws helps deter reckless driving habits and encourages drivers to prioritize safety while on the road.

Implementation of driver monitoring systems: Driver monitoring systems enable fleet managers and employers to track and analyze driver behavior in real time. By identifying risky behaviors such as speeding or harsh braking, these systems facilitate timely intervention and corrective action, promoting safer driving habits among drivers. For added safety, many electronic vehicles have begun incorporating these systems into passenger vehicles.

Integration of advanced safety features in vehicles: Modern vehicles have advanced safety technologies such as collision detection systems, lane departure warnings, and automatic emergency braking. These features serve as proactive measures to prevent accidents and mitigate the severity of collisions by providing drivers with timely alerts and assistance.

Embracing technology-driven solutions: Technology plays a crucial role in improving driving safety, allowing insights into driver performance, and identifying areas for improvement.

Reduce phone use while driving: Phone use is a leading factor in distracted driving for commercial and personal drivers. Setting your phone on '"Do Not Disturb" while driving may reduce the likelihood of grabbing your phone to answer a call or text. In addition, most music apps have “car mode” to minimize the distraction of playing and choosing music while driving.

Reduce Your Risk with Comprehensive Auto Insurance

Whether you're behind the wheel or employing others with driving responsibilities, the risk of damage on the road remains a constant concern. In the event of an accident, having a comprehensive auto insurance policy becomes indispensable. Policies should encompass property, collision, and liability coverage to safeguard against potential financial losses. At ECBM, we specialize in auto insurance tailored to personal and commercial needs. Our team is committed to securing insurance packages that offer the highest quality coverage without any gaps at a competitive cost. Contact us for more information on how we can protect you and your vehicles.