The study, which used cell phone billing records and interviews with crash victims to form the basis for its data, also found that generally, weather played a nearly non-existent role, and that there was no distinction between hands-free and hand-held cell phones.
"This isn't intuitive. You'd think using a hands-free phone would be less distracting, so it wouldn't increase crash risk as much as using a hand-held phone. But we found that either phone type increased the risk," said Anne McCartt, IIHS Vice President for Research and an author of the study.
"Distracted driving also contributes to one in four traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is part of the reason why 21st embarked on a campaign to shed light on the dangers of driving while distracted," said Joyce Prager, Assistant Vice President of Community Relations, 21st Century Insurance.
Through its billboards positioned on Ohio roadways, 21st's "Just Drive" campaign encourages drivers to avoid common distractions such as using portable electronic devices, eating or talking on a cell phone while driving. Each board comprises a cartoon driver with headlines that read: "World's Deadliest Office," "World's Riskiest Restaurant," and "World's Most Dangerous Phone Booth." Additional billboards show drivers shaving, applying make-up or reading, and contain headlines that read: "World's Scariest Shaving Mirror," "World's Costliest Make-up Mirror" and "World's Dumbest Library."
"The results of this study clearly indicate that drivers should concentrate on the road when driving their cars," said Joyce Prager of 21st Century Insurance. "That's why we encourage people to avoid distractions while driving, focus on safety, and to 'Just Drive.'"
Selected Ohio Billboard Locations: SR 161 @ Cleveland (Columbus), I-75 @ Benson (Cincinnati), I-75 @ Leo St. (Dayton), I-77 @ Cleveland Ave. (Canton), W. Exchange St. @ Pine St. (Akron).
About 21st: Good people to call
Founded in 1958, 21st Century Insurance Group is a direct-to-consumer provider of personal auto insurance. With $1.3 billion of revenue in 2004, the company insures over 1.5 million vehicles in California and eight other Western, Southwestern and Midwestern states. 21st provides superior policy features and 24/7 customer service at a competitive price. Customers have the option to purchase insurance, service their policy or report a claim over the phone, in English or Spanish, at any time with our licensed insurance professionals at 1-800-211-SAVE or through the Company's full-service bilingual Web site at 21st.com. 21st Century Insurance Company, 21st Century Casualty Company, and 21st Century Insurance Company of the Southwest are rated A+ by A.M. Best and Fitch Ratings. 21st Century Insurance Company and 21st Century Casualty Company are rated A+ by Standard & Poor's.
21st Century Insurance Group is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the trading symbol TW and is headquartered at 21st Century Plaza, 6301 Owensmouth Avenue, Woodland Hills, CA 91367.
Electronic copies of billboards available at http://lp.21st.com/justdrive/