Distracted driving trends: insights for an evolving landscape

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The issue of distracted driving, particularly with the advancement and use of smartphones, continues to be a significant threat to public safety — and the insurance industry is taking notice. 

As the insurtech landscape evolves at a rapid pace, it’s crucial for decision makers to stay informed about the latest developments and trends in the distracted driving and insurance space.

Current distracted driving trends

Through ananalysis from Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), distracted driving fell 4.5% in 2023. This reduction prevented an estimated 55K crashes, 250 deaths, and nearly $2.2 billion in U.S. economic damages.

And although distracted driving declined overall, incidents of specific dangerous driving behaviors have been climbing over the last 3+ years. CMT reported that these behaviors included screen interaction time and phone motion time.

  • Screen interaction time is broadly defined and includes anything from responding to an email or drafting a text message, to using an app, playing a game, and more. Although interactions did decline in 2023 by 4.5%, they’re still 17% higher from what was reported in 2020.

In a survey conducted by The Zebra in 2024, 47% of drivers admitted to sending or reading a text message while driving — an increase of 31% from 2021. It also found that nearly 57% of drivers admitted to adjusting a GPS device while driving.

  • Phone motion time is the physical movement of a phone and indicates a handheld phone activity. CMT reports that drivers with the highest levels of phone motion activity are 240% more likely to crash. It also indicates that 43% of surveyed trips had some form of this distraction.

Another insight from the Zebra showed that most respondents said they were only “somewhat familiar” with laws around cell phone use and driving — highlighting the gap in awareness, education, and advocacy from government agencies.

Distracted driving research and solution development is ongoing, making it essential to know who to follow as a thought leader, where to attend key conferences, and how to access relevant data-driven insights. 

Industry buzz

For many decision makers in car insurance, auto manufacturing, and road safety industries, the importance of attending large conferences and following industry thought leaders is well known. However, it’s just as important to note that many states and municipalities also host their own annual conferences, summits and provide speaking engagements that blend industries while focusing on the issue of distracted driving and its solutions.

The importance of keeping a finger on the pulse of both local and international conversations around distracted driving should be top of mind for all.

Research is also well under way on how the industry can better use machine learning and AI-assisted tech to open the door to new possibilities to reduce distracted driving. For example, this research in Materials Today: Proceedings focuses on improving automatic detection of careless driving patterns through the use of machine learning techniques. 

With research and industry insights contributing to our knowledge bank, we can become more equipped to find and adjust solutions that address driver inattention and help those within the car insurance industry.

Implications on insurance companies

From the increased cost of cars, claims, repairs, and technology that's found its way into modern cars, it's no secret that insurers all over the world are looking to find a way to reduce the prevalence of accidents caused by distracted driving. 

According to 2023 CCC Intelligent Solutions’ annual Crash Course data, claim counts are up with industry wide year-over-year increases as much as 3.7% in 2022. When we compare that to actual losses, the Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that in the same year, insurers incurred nearly $243 million in losses, which include claims caused by distracted driving. 

While we can only speculate that a percentage of these losses are the direct result of distracted driving, by reducing customer distraction with actionable solutions that enable positive behavior change, insurers can expect industry losses to decline by a proportional amount — making it an exciting opportunity for insurers and technology companies alike.

Tech solutions to reduce distraction

Eliminating distraction behind the wheel is a blend of behavior change, legislation, and theright technology. While the introduction of some new technologies may contribute to the rise of driver inattention, it can also provide companies an opportunity to create solutions that help multiple industries reduce driver risk and improve their safety.

As we consider the countermeasures toward distracted driving, driver monitoring systems and in-car phone blocking apps are two technologies that may help solve the problem of driver inattention. Another method that may be able to lower distraction is by creating smartphone apps that limit a driver’s opportunity to engage in risky behaviors such as texting or engaging with social media. For example, HiRoad, a telematics-based auto insurance powered by Quanata, harnesses the technology found in mobile devices to give drivers the tools that can help them stay focused on the road, and in return, rewards them with monthly savings on their car insurance. 

At Quanata, we know when we’re strategic about how we use technology, we’re able to provide solution-oriented formulas that leave the car insurance industry poised to adopt solutions that lower risk and improve loss ratio.

Some of the information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with Quanata®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. Quanata is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. Quanata makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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