As Car Crashes Increase, PCI Calls for Action to Curb Distracted Driving

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–With distracted driving on the rise and contributing to the increase in
motor vehicle crashes and fatalities, the Property Casualty Insurers
Association of America (PCI) is supporting the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All”
campaign to stop distracted driving.

Following decades of decline, 2015 data show a steep increase in auto
accident frequency and highway fatalities. Historically, NHTSA research
has pointed to human factors contributing to 94 percent of auto
accidents. Recent PCI analysis finds that distracted driving, in all its
forms, is a leading factor in the rise of accidents over the last two
years. Furthermore, increased traffic congestion could be another
leading factor in more accident frequency. “Although there is no single
answer to addressing the problem of distracted driving, there are a
number of ways that motorists, policymakers, insurers, and car makers
can work together to make roads safer,” said Robert Passmore, PCI’s
assistant vice president, personal lines policy. “The implementation and
enforcement of distracted-driving laws, which discourage texting while
driving and ban handheld cellphone use are an important start. It takes
a coordinated strategy combining education, personal responsibility and
enforcement to get results.”

Today, 46 states, along with D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin
Islands, ban text messaging for all drivers. All but five states have
primary enforcement. Of the four states without an all-driver texting
ban, two prohibit text messaging by novice drivers and one restricts
school bus drivers from texting.

“In addition to the public safety concerns regarding the increase in the
frequency of auto accidents, data also highlights that the insurance
claims costs associated with auto accidents are becoming more expensive
and this trend could impact insurance costs,” said Passmore. “The
current trend lines make it even more important that we work together in
order to avoid unsafe driving behaviors, enact or strengthen laws
banning texting and hand-held cell phone use while driving, and expand
crash avoidance technology in new cars. Together, this can make our
roads safer and lower our insurance costs.”

PCI’s 7 Driving Safety Tips:

1.)   Whether you’re taking a summer get-away or just running errands
around town, we encourage you to buckle up, drive safely and try to
be prepared for those who may not. Seat belts save lives and help
prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or
booster seats.
2.) Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the
roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a
traffic crash increases. We encourage motorists to plan their routes
in advance when traveling to new destinations, be patient, and allow
for extra travel time.
3.) Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay
focused on the road and aware of changing traffic patterns caused by
construction. Please be cautious of the construction workers
themselves, who are often in close proximity to the highway – and at
great risk.

Avoid distracted driving. When the entire family is traveling
in the car, the opportunity for distraction is multiplied.
Remember to put the phone down, and never text while driving. Be
careful when eating on the run, as lunch can be just as
distracting as a cell phone. Buckle up or secure pets in the back
of the car.

5.) Beware of crash taxes. Although they have been banned or limited in
several states, many cities, counties and fire districts will charge
the at-fault driver for emergency response costs in an auto
accident. Fees range from $100 to over $2,000 for response services.
The average cost is $200. A typical insurance policy does not cover
the cost of a fire truck responding to an accident.
6.) Have a plan for roadside assistance. If an accident occurs, be wary
of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for your
insurer or a roadside assistance program ready so you know who to
call. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an
accident and you could find yourself facing excessive fees or
complications recovering your car from the tow yard.
7.) Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road, make sure
to replace any expired insurance identification cards in the event
you need to prove you have insurance during a traffic stop.

Additional Resources:

Safety Council Take Back Your Drive

Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Follow us on social media @PCIAA
use #HeadsUp as we continue to offer important safety tips.

Check out PCI’s April
Distracted Driving Awareness

PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the
broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association.
PCI members write more than $183 billion in annual premium, 35 percent
of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 42
percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 27 percent of the
homeowners market, 32 percent of the commercial property and liability
market and 34 percent of the private workers compensation market.


Brooke Kelley-Hunt
847-553-3671 or 847-894-3881