CHICAGO- As 2016 wraps up and you begin to think about the New Year, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is asking drivers to pledge to put the cell phone down while driving.
Traffic deaths rose 10.4 percent in the first half of 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Roadway deaths have been steadily increasing since 2014, and distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for the rise in vehicle accidents nationwide.
“Even if we don’t want to admit it—at one point or another, we’ve all been distracted behind the wheel. Too often, making a quick call, firing off a text, adjusting the navigation system, or turning our attention to kids and pets in the back seat results in a short lapse of focus that can lead to a crash,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president, personal lines policy.
Americans know distracted driving is a problem, which is why lawmakers in 46 states D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands supported and passed legislation that would ban texting while driving. “Insurers continue to support the ban on texting while driving and are asking drivers to put the phone down and keep their eyes on the road,” added Passmore.
And it’s not just the driver who is distracted. Distracted walking is becoming its own epidemic. The National Safety Council reported that 38,000 people died on the roads in 2015 — the largest increase in the last 50 years.
“While smartphones have no doubt changed the way we live, they shouldn’t be changing the way we drive or walk. It’s up to all of us to encourage each other to stop the distraction, because you might just save a life or prevent a crash,” said Passmore.
Safety is the first concern, but the increase in accidents also could impact consumers’ insurance costs. The recent spike in the number of auto accidents comes at a time when repair, labor, medical and other costs associated with accidents also are rising.
“If we all just vow to put down the phone, we could see a decline in the number of severe accidents, and potentially a decline in auto insurance costs as well, which would be a real win-win for insurance consumers,” said Passmore.
As you think about the New Year, PCI offers a few resolutions that will only take a few minutes, but could save you thousands of dollars if the unthinkable happens.
1.) Pledge to put down the phone: Stop distracted driving and walking. Put the phone out of reach so you are not tempted to pick it up while in the driver’s seat, and if you’re walking, stick your phone in a book bag or purse.
2.) Conduct an annual review of your insurance policy. Call your agent or insurance company to discuss your policy and coverage options. They can assist you in determining the type of policy you should have and the proper amount of coverage for your auto or home.
3.) Know what your insurance policy covers. The details matter. Talk with your auto insurer about what happens if you get in an accident. Comprehensive coverage will cover flood damage to your vehicle. Ask about towing and rental car coverage.
For more information visit our Auto Safety and Consumer Costs page or follow us on social media @PCIAA use #HeadsUp