Tips & Advice

Safe driving is more than simply driving the speed limit

Lane departure warnings. Automatic emergency braking. Backup cameras.

Drivers today have more technology than ever to help avoid collisions. But still, there has been a significant rise in traffic fatalities in recent years.

In 2016, 40,200 Americans died in car crashes, according to estimates released by the National Safety Council.1 When compared to 2014, it marks the most significant two-year increase in more than 50 years.2

What’s driving those deadly numbers?

Likely factors behind the rise in deadly car crashes include more vehicle miles traveled due in part to lower gas prices and the economic recovery, as well as distracted driving.3

Let’s take a deeper look at distraction

Surprisingly, cellphones and texting are just part of the problem. “While many distracted driving studies focus on cellphones, any type of multi-tasking activity and driving simply do not mix,” says Chris Hayes, a Travelers Risk Control safety professional. Behaviors behind the wheel, such as drinking coffee or using a navigation system, may also be putting you at risk.

According to the 2017 Travelers Risk Index, the vast majority of consumers continue to express concern about distracted driving from technology use.


Of those surveyed, 78% say using technology, such as a smartphone or tablet, while driving is very risky, placing it in the same league as driving while drowsy and driving while grooming or applying makeup; thirty-one percent say that using a vehicle’s interactive system, such as a GPS, is a very risky behavior. Nonetheless, about a quarter (23%) say they use personal technology at least sometimes while driving.4

Sometimes, it is not your actions as a driver or pedestrian that lead to dangerous situations, but the actions of others. As a driver, however, there are things you can do to proactively protect yourself and your family.

Assume you are invisible.
It can be easy to assume everyone else on the road is paying attention, following traffic laws, and can see you clearly. However, that is not always the case. The next time you are expecting other drivers to respect your right-of-way or let you merge into another lane, do not assume they are on the same page.

Avoid aggressive driving.
It’s best to resist the urge to drive aggressively. Instead, go with the speed of surrounding traffic and drive defensively. See yourself as part of a community of drivers – all trying to get to your destinations safely.

Control your emotions.
Taking the high road is often the best route. Remember to be patient, keep a safe following distance, and avoid confronting aggressive drivers.5

Lead by example.
Changing social norms around distracted driving starts with good drivers setting positive examples for others about what is, and what is not, socially acceptable behavior on the road. According to a 2017 ORC survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, almost half speak up to distracted drivers often or always.6

Drivers can set expectations for their friends and family, passengers can speak up to distracted drivers, and everyone can avoid calling or texting when a loved one is behind the wheel.

Safe roadways are everyone’s responsibility and, although you might be mindful, others may be driving distracted. That’s why it’s important to protect one of your most valuable possessions. Whether you drive a car, truck, RV or motorcycle, make sure you have an Auto Insurance plan that’s right for you!

SOURCES:
1National Safety Council, NSC Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates. www.nsc.org/NewsDocuments/2017/12-month-estimates.pdf.
2National Safety Council, NSC Injury Facts 2017.
3National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic fatalities up sharply in 2015. www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/traffic-fatalities-sharply-201
4Travelers, 2017 Travelers Risk Index. www.travelers.com/resources/risk-index/index.aspx
5Travelers, Share the Road. www.travelers.com/resources/auto/safe-driving/share-the-road.aspx.
6ORC International, Online Omnibus Study, conducted April 27-30, 2017.