American Property Casualty Insurance Association
  • Staff Contact: Brooke Kelley     
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  • August 6, 2018
  • Put Down the Phone: Back-to-School Campaign Begins in Alabama
  • MONTGOMERY-The back-to-school rush can create congestion on the roads as shopping, school activities, and travel to college campuses increase. That’s why it’s more important than ever during these end-of-summer weeks for parents and students to be mindful of auto safety—and distracted driving in particular.

    Vehicle crashes and fatalities are rising sharply in Alabama and across the country, and distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for this alarming trend. The National Safety Council preliminary 2017 data shows that motor vehicle deaths surpassed 40,000 for the second consecutive year in 2017 and 4.57 million people were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes. In 2016, the crash fatality rate in Alabama was higher than the national crash fatality rate.

    A recent study by Zendrive, an analytics company, found that on an average day, more than 60 percent of people use their phones at least once while behind the wheel. Based on United States Census data, this means that at least 69 million drivers use their phones while driving each day.

    To increase awareness of these trends and the dangers of distracted driving, The Alabama Center for Insurance Information at The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Business and the Alabama Department of Insurance have partnered with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) to produce an online Auto Safety Guide that provides information on distraction-related crashes and offers safe driving tips.

    “Every time we get in the car, we see people texting or talking on their cell phones,” said Logan McFaddin, PCI’s Alabama regional manager. “Increasingly, drivers are also posting on social media, scrolling through playlists, live streaming video, and binge-watching television shows instead of giving their full attention to the road.”

    YouTube and Netflix are both in the 10 apps that people are using while driving, according to TrueMotion, a technology company that tracks driving habits. And according to the Alabama Department of Transportation, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver.

    “Distracted driving crashes—and the resulting fatalities and injuries—can be prevented,” said Stephanie Tompkins, a consumer complaint specialist at the Alabama Department of Insurance. “But to do that, our driving habits need to change. Finishing our phone calls, sending our texts, and setting our music and maps before putting the car in drive are some of the simplest and most effective actions we all can take to prevent crashes.”

    Addressing distracted driving laws also is important. More and more states are implementing laws banning smartphone use while driving. “Distracted drivers pose a very real risk to themselves, their passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and everyone else on the road—especially during the back-to-school rush,” said Lars Powell, director of the Alabama Center for Insurance Information at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business. “Enforcing and educating drivers about distracted driving laws are critical next steps to prevent tragedies.”

    Simple modifications to driver behaviors can prevent auto crashes and save lives. PCI, the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and the Alabama Department of Insurance offer the following additional tips for safe driving.

    Top 7 Safe Driving Tips:

    1. Avoid distracted driving. Don’t talk, text, or use apps while driving. Put the phone down and just drive. Try to limit other distractions, such as eating or fiddling with controls, and be aware that having more passengers in the car multiplies the opportunity for distraction. Secure pets in the back of the car.
    2. Wear your seatbelt. Whether you’re traveling or just running errands, buckle up and drive safely. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
    3. Give yourself plenty of time. Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads during the back-to-school rush, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for auto crashes increases. Plan routes in advance when traveling to new destinations and be patient.
    4. Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Deadly consequences can result from alcohol- or drug-impaired driving.
    5. Pay attention to your speed. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and be aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Enforcement penalties are often increased for texting while driving in construction zones.
    6. Have a plan for roadside assistance. If you’re involved in a crash, beware of unscrupulous towing companies. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident by charging excessive fees and making it difficult for people to retrieve their cars. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready.
    7. Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road, replace any expired insurance identification cards so you can provide current proof of insurance during a traffic stop.

    The online auto safety magazine is available at: 

    For more information:

    Media Contacts

    Brooke Kelley

    Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs




    Kaylin Bowen

    Communications Specialist

    Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research

    The University of Alabama



    Jennifer Bowen

    Public Information Officer

    Alabama Department of Insurance

    (334) 240-4434

  • PCI promotes and protects the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers. PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write $220 billion in annual premium, 37 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance. Member companies write 44 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 30 percent of the homeowners market, 35 percent of the commercial property and liability market and 37 percent of the private workers compensation market.
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