CHICAGO- August and September are busy times on the roads as Americans wrap up summer vacations and students head back to school. Auto accidents are on the rise across the nation, and distracted drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists are major contributors to roads becoming increasingly dangerous, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
“Smartphone distractions are all around us—from the driver, to the pedestrian, to the bicyclist,” said Bob Passmore, PCI’s assistant vice president of personal lines policy. “Our roads have become increasingly more dangerous. Auto accidents have increased 14 percent over the past two years—the biggest increase in over half a century, according to the National Safety Council. Last year, 4.6 million people were significantly injured on the roads, a 31 percent increase over the last seven years and a 12.2 percent increase since 2014.
“Distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for the rise in vehicle accidents nationwide, especially when combined with higher traffic congestion,” said Passmore. The back-to-school weeks are sure to bring more distractions and more drivers—a deadly combination.”
According to software developer TrueMotion, 92 percent of drivers use their smartphones while driving, and 71 percent text while driving. “Drivers aren’t just talking and texting, either,” said Passmore. “Increasingly, drivers are surfing the web, engaging on social media and using apps. Amazingly, Netflix and YouTube have appeared in the list of top 10 apps used by drivers.”
Teenagers are especially vulnerable to accidents caused by smartphone distractions. According to research by Safe Kids Worldwide, one in five teens admit they cross streets while distracted by a mobile device. A recent AAA study also found that the 15-to 19-year old demographic has the largest proportion of distracted drivers. Teens are distracted nearly a quarter of the time they’re behind the wheel and they are four times more likely than adults to get into crashes while using their cell phone.
PCI’s Back-to-School Driving Safety Tips: