April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month, and we are here to do our part in raising awareness on the dangers of driving distracted. We all know the importance of driving safely and why we need to be focused while we drive. And we all know about the consequences of distracted driving. But how many of us actually give our full attention to the road? We can be distracted manually by taking our hands off the wheel, visually by looking down, or mentally by driving tired or unfocused. According to Chris Hayes, a Travelers Risk Control Safety Professional, “The fact is, everything that occupies your mind or your vision can contribute to distraction behind the wheel.”

Do any of these everyday examples of distracted driving sound familiar?

  • You’re running late.
  • The kids are loud in the backseat.
  • You’re preoccupied about our to do list – groceries you need, the important meeting at work, scheduling for the family, an upcoming trip, etc.
  • You grab a quick bite from the drive thru and eat while on the road.
  • Your favorite song comes on the radio and you dance or sing along.
  • You drive with your knee because you are comfortable/experienced behind the wheel.
  • You check the navigation or get a text/email and just can’t resist checking on the alert.
You may not know this, but the brain can only process so much information at once, which is what can contribute to a driver’s inability to fully process the full landscape of the road. Any one of these distractions leads to “inattentive blindness” which, according to a recent University of Utah study, slows your reaction time to worse than someone with a .08 alcohol level (legally drunk). Driving drunk isn’t tolerated socially or legally, so why are we still brushing off driving distracted as any less intolerable? Education is a major part of the solution and the Travelers Institute “Every Second Matters” campaign focuses on just that – compiling data and calculating statistics to make us more aware of the dangers, in the hopes of creating positive peer pressure so we hold each other accountable. Did you know auto crashes are the #1 cause of workplace death? It's more frequent than the #2 & #3 causes combined!

Fatalities Research Graph

Distracted driving not only impacts your safety and the safety of your loved ones, it also affects your insurance premium. As a part of the insurance industry, we want to let you know that being a good driver can also have the bonus of saving you money on your premiums. Not to mention implementing safe driving procedures at work can prevent claims for your company and team members. A leading cause of adults driving distracted is due to work-related reasons. If we start implementing safety habits at work, we can prevent commercial auto claims, worker’s compensation claims, and possibly lives.

Did you know there is an app for that?! That’s right, you can download an app that helps you stay focused by putting your phone in a “Do Not Disturb” mode, so you can get to your destination distraction-free. DropItAndDrive.com has even compiled some driving simulators to help show drivers the impact being distracted has while behind the wheel. Don’t want to try one of the simulators? Try this instead - the next time you’re riding as a passenger - pick out an object in the distance, close your eyes for 4 seconds, and see how far you have traveled. At 55mph, looking away for as little as 4.6 seconds is the equivalence of driving an entire football field blind. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has kicked off their 5th year of the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign which tries to stress the importance of focused driving to young drivers. And according to EndDD.org, “teens whose parents drive distracted are twice as likely to drive distracted,” so please “be the driver you want your teen to be.”

Click here to take the Travelers Quiz to see if you understand the risks involved with distracted driving.