Why Distracted Driving Awareness is Important, Enforced & Some Solutions Work?

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In 2015 there were  3,477 people killed due to distracted driving and 391,000 were injured reports NHTSA. Drivers should beware because local law enforcement is out, stopping and citing distracted drivers. Some software companies offer smartphone apps to help curb the use of smartphones while driving which seem counter intuitive.

Alarming Stats and Beliefs

With motor vehicle deaths increasing substantially, the National Safety Council identified some of the top driver behaviors and beliefs that put all roadway users at risk and increase the likelihood of being involved in a crash. Some of the top distressing things drivers do – or believe they can do – include:

  • 47 percent of drivers believe it is safe to send a text either manually or via voice-dictation systems.
  • 45 percent say they feel pressure from employers to check email while driving; however, 44 percent say they have crashed in the last three years while they were either commuting or traveling for business.
  • 35 percent of teens – a cohort that has seen an increase in fatal crashes – would use social media behind the wheel.
  • 17 percent of teens feel their own distraction may have contributed to a crash.
  • 71 percent believe they can have up to 3 drinks before they are not safe or too impaired to drive.
  • 33 percent believe it is acceptable to drive with less than four hours of sleep. In fact, drivers who are tired can be as impaired as drivers who are legally drunk.
  • 32 percent say new cars can essentially drive themselves.
  • 13 percent have driven after using marijuana in the last month.
  • Two-thirds of drivers have felt unsafe because of another driver’s distraction, but just 25 percent feel their own distractions have put themselves or others at risk.

What Out for Distractions and Law Enforcement

Local police in Stamford Conn. are giving out tickets to distracted drivers. Many cities including Little Rock, Ark. have joined the nation “U Drive U Text U Pay” campaign throughout the county.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP), the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), and Impact Teen Drivers (ITD), as well as community partners and law enforcement agencies throughout California, are working together to make the roads safer.

The week of April 3-9, 2017, is California Teen Safe Driver Week and in conjunction with the National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, safety presentations will be held at various high schools and venues throughout the state to teach teens the reality and consequences of distracted driving.

To better understand the dangers and consequences of smartphone distracted driving, AT&T is bringing its virtual reality simulator to more than 50 California schools and communities for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month this year as part of its IT CAN WAIT initiative.

AT&T representative encourage everyone to take the IT CAN WAIT pledge – to keep your eyes on the road, not your phone – and help keep our roads safe. No text, e-mail, or social media post is worth a life.

California drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone or a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124). Lawmakers agree that distracted driving continues to be a problem among California’s motorists. On January 1, Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect, requiring all California drivers to keep a cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is mounted or not being held in a driver’s hand.

Phone Use While Driving = Crashes

Companies who claim they offer solutions published news releases CMT and Life 360.

Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), smartphone-centric telematics provider, reported its latest findings on distracted driving. Data from a study involving several hundreds of thousands of drivers shows that phone distraction occurred during 52 percent of trips that resulted in a crash.

CMT’s mobile apps measure driving behavior in six categories: phone use while driving, excessive speeding, braking, acceleration, cornering, and time of driving. These apps provide actionable information to drivers so they can understand and improve their driving behavior.

Distracted driving habits pose frequent threat
Key findings of the CMT study include:

  • Distracted driving occurred during 52 percent of trips that resulted in a crash.
  • On drives that involved a crash, the average duration of distraction was 135 seconds.
  • Phone distraction lasts for two minutes or more on 20 percent of drives with distraction, and often occurs at high speeds: 29 percent at speeds exceeding 56 miles per hour.
  • The worst 10 percent of distracted drivers are 2.3 times more likely to be in a crash than the average driver, and 5.8 times more likely than the best 10 percent of distracted drivers.

Although smartphones have contributed to this problem, CMT’s work shows that the smartphone presents a new opportunity to accurately measure and reduce distracted driving at a low cost.“Distracted driving due to smartphone use is intuitively blamed for the increase in road crashes and claims,” said Hari Balakrishnan, Chief Technology Officer of CMT. “What’s less intuitive is that smartphones hold the solution to the problem they created. Drivers now have access to tools that analyze their driving and achieve real behavioral change through immediate and ongoing feedback.”

Apps based on CMT’s DriveWell solution automatically record phone sensor data when a drive is occurring. By analyzing this data after a drive, these apps provide feedback to drivers. They also use contests, leaderboards, achievement goals, and personalized driving tips.

CMT claims that the feedback and gamification in these apps engage users well and lead to dramatic improvements in driving behavior. Within only 30 days of use, phone distraction reduces by 35 percent (40 percent by day 60), while risky speeding and hard braking reduce by 20 percent, on average across all users. Even after 200 days of use, DriveWell users sustain at least a 25 percent reduction in distracted driving.

In addition to drivers, insurers around the world have benefited from the sustained driving improvements of DriveWell users. Participating insurers report higher retention rates, doubling of customer growth rate, 34 percent reduction in claims, and 19 percent reduction in the severity of claims.

Life360,  family location app and driving safety service, recently analyzed driving behavior data among its users to uncover trends about distracted driving across the United States. Life360 reviewed millions of drives completed by its members during February and March 2017 and found that a cell phone was used on average 1.78 times during each drive. Cell phone use on the road was most prevalent in the Southeastern region of the U.S.

Top 10 States Where Cell Phone Use In the Car Is Most Frequent:

  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Alabama/li>
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Florida

A breakdown of Life360’s data by city showed that cell phone use on the road was most frequent in New Orleans, with mobile phones used an average of 2.78 times during each drive. In Atlanta, cell phones were used an average of 2.73 times per drive. In Miami, cell phones were used an average of 2.54 times per drive. In Washington, DC, cell phones were used an average of 2.26 times per drive and in Tampa, cell phones were used an average of 2.17 times per drive. Life360 analyzed cell phone use among adults* who used its Driver Protect service between February 1 – March 15, 2017.

Life360 recently expanded its popular family location app with the launch of an in-app driving safety service called Life360 Driver Protect, designed to help families become safer drivers and have peace of mind that loved ones are safe on the road. A key feature of the service includes Safe Drive Reviews, which deliver actionable safety insights about driving behavior when your loved ones are on the road. Incidences of cell phone use, hard braking and rapid acceleration are reported after each drive is completed as well as the top speed reached during the drive. Life360 encourages families to use the reported data to have conversations about how to improve their driving safety.

A recent analysis shows that within two weeks of using the Life360 Driver Protect service, 58% of users reduce their cell phone use while on the road.

To help raise awareness of distracted driving and prompt families to have meaningful conversations about how to improve their safety on the road, Life360 is offering its Safe Drive Reviews feature for free to all Life360 users between April 12 – 18, 2017. Families can download Life360 for iPhone and Android at www.life360.com.

The full Life360 Driver Protect subscription service includes Safe Drive Reviews, automatic crash detection and emergency response, 24/7 extended roadside assistance, unlimited Place alerts that notify you when loved ones arrive or depart specific places, and 30 days of location history. The service is available in the U.S. within the Life360 app and covers all members of the Family Circle for $7.99 per month or $69.99 per year.