Travelers Risk Index Reveals Why Americans Still Engage in Distracted Driving Despite Known Dangers

Workplace pressures, desire to multitask and lack of third-party intervention among reasons for the continuing trend

HARTFORD, Conn.--()--Ahead of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) today announced the results of the 2019 Travelers Risk Index, which surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and executives about distracted driving and the reasons behind it.

According to the Index, nearly eight in ten consumers talk on the phone while driving, and more than 30 percent admit to having been in a near-miss crash because they were distracted. And although distracted driving poses potential liability risks for companies, many expect employees to remain connected and do little to discourage such behaviors behind the wheel.

“It’s startling to see that drivers continue to engage in potentially life-threatening habits,” said Chris Hayes, Second Vice President of Transportation, Risk Control at Travelers. “Whether driving for work or on personal time, many drivers overlook risks that make our roads more dangerous for all of us.”

Driving Distracted Is a Tough Habit to Break

The Travelers Risk Index identified common distractions when behind the wheel, including:

  • Typing a text or email (44 percent).
  • Using social media (23 percent).
  • Recording videos or taking photos (22 percent).
  • Shopping online (15 percent).

A small yet alarming number of drivers say it would be difficult to stop such behaviors. Thirteen percent of respondents say they would find it very difficult to stop reading texts or emails while driving, and 11 percent say it would be difficult to stop typing texts or emails while driving. In addition, five percent of respondents say they would find it very difficult to stop shopping online while driving.

Although many smartphones have settings to help drivers stay focused, most drivers do not use these features. Consistent with last year’s Index, only 12 percent of consumers set their phones to Do Not Disturb while driving. In fact, of those respondents who do not activate the Do Not Disturb feature, 41 percent actively choose not to turn it on, while others simply forget to turn it on or find it inconvenient to do so (35 percent).

Workplace Accountability Is Lacking

The 2019 Index suggests that many workplaces do not consider the full consequences of distracted driving and do not do enough to curb dangerous driving behavior.

Work-related crashes can result in significant costs, including health care payments and losses in productivity. According to the National Safety Council, the average economic cost of a crash is more than $1 million per death and more than $78,000 per nonfatal disabling injury. However, 12 percent of executives surveyed do not worry about the liability associated with a crash caused by a distracted employee, and most (74 percent) do not consider distracted driving to be of great concern.

The connected culture and mounting workplace expectations may be contributing to distracted driving. While most businesses report being at least somewhat concerned about employees’ use of mobile devices on the road, an overwhelming majority (87 percent) of executives expect workers to be sometimes or frequently reachable outside of the office. Many employees feel this pressure, as 20 percent of respondents who admit to replying to work-related messages while driving say they do so because they worry about upsetting their boss. Further, nearly half of those same respondents say they always need to be available or do not want to miss a work-related emergency. Lastly, 17 percent say drive time is when they get a lot of work done.

“The pressure to always be online and connected can be deadly,” added Hayes. “Even though distraction-related crashes occur frequently, some companies continue to expect constant connectivity without considering what’s at stake.”

Three out of four workplaces have implemented distracted driving policies to help address such issues. However, just 18 percent of businesses advise employees to set their phones to Do Not Disturb before driving, and only 40 percent report knowing of an employee who was disciplined for not complying with company policy.

Passive Passengers Let Behaviors Go Unchecked

Warding off digital addiction requires more than employer policies. According to the survey, a conversation about driving behavior can make a difference. Sixteen percent of consumers say they rarely or never speak up while in a car with a distracted driver, yet more than half say they would likely cease distracted driving behaviors if they were asked to do so.

Some conversations about distracted driving are already happening: Two-thirds of parents have spoken to their children about distracted driving, and the same amount of companies say they have an employee education program about the dangers of distracted driving and how to avoid it.

For more information about the 2019 Travelers Risk Index, please visit travelers.com/riskindex.

About the Travelers Risk Index

Hart Research conducted a national online survey of 1,000 consumers, ages 18 to 69, in March 2019. Separately, Hart surveyed 1,050 executives from businesses of all sizes. Both surveys were commissioned by Travelers.

About Travelers

The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Travelers has approximately 30,000 employees and generated revenues of approximately $30 billion in 2018. For more information, visit www.travelers.com.

Contacts

Sperry Mylott, 860.277.5075
smylott@travelers.com

Kate Thermansen, 860.954.1789
ktherman@travelers.com

Contacts

Sperry Mylott, 860.277.5075
smylott@travelers.com

Kate Thermansen, 860.954.1789
ktherman@travelers.com