Zendrive, a new traffic-data startup, recently released an alarming report on distracted driving. To the surprise of no one and the chagrin of many, Americans continue to use their phones while driving on ever-increasing rates.
To start, it’s important to make clear that for the purposes of this report Zendrive looked at people using their smartphone while operating a vehicle for any reason, not just texting. Yes, people are doing a whole lot more than texting. From phone calls, to live-streaming, Facetimes and more, people are getting creative with how they distract themselves while driving.
As it turns out, the frequency that Americans are engaging in distracted driving practices is not the worst part of this report. The most alarming fact is that most Americans have no idea how often they use their phones while driving. They are quite literally, unaware of the problem.
According to Zendrive, the most distracted drivers actually gave themselves generous ratings for paying attention while driving. In fact, roughly a third of the drivers surveyed considered themselves extremely safe while multitasking.
Fully autonomous vehicle will help with this problem quite a bit. But the reality is that truly self-driving vehicles are still a ways off. In the meantime, distracted driving is still a very serious and very dangerous problem.
Yes, there are laws against distracted driving in most states. However, those laws are inconsistent and extremely difficult to enforce. As a result most people treat it more like jaywalking than a serious infraction.
Companies like Zendrive hope that bringing awareness to the issue will help put us back on track. Insurers will play a major part in making that happen. Why insurers? Because as technology advances, they will be able to identify bad drivers from their driving habits, and in turn raise their insurance rates.
This is already beginning to happen across the country, though earlier adopters seem to be opting in because of the discounts they can get on their insurance, not out of fear of a penalty.
According to the Insurance Journal “Zendrive now has its monitoring technology on 60 million phones, roughly one of every four U.S. drivers. TrueMotion, a rival, is tracking distraction and other driving metrics for eight of the top 20 U.S. auto insurers, and an additional 30,000 drivers have voluntarily downloaded the TrueMotion system in attempt to self-regulate tendencies to talk and text at the wheel.”
Having a third party, like an insurance company, give their customers data-driven analysis of their driving habits, with fiscal incentives behind safe driving, will hopefully help more people understand the dangers of distracted driving. The consequences are just too high.