Travelers Institute Hosts Every Second Matters℠ Symposium at Massachusetts General Hospital to Address Distracted Driving Epidemic

New survey finds 75% of Boston-area drivers surveyed use phones behind the wheel

Local victim honored in new “Unfinished Stories” video

BOSTON--()--The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), will host a symposium, “Disrupting Distraction,” today at Massachusetts General Hospital. Part of the company’s Every Second Matters education series, the event will explore the implications of distracted driving and approaches to help tackle this important public health problem.

Travelers recently commissioned a survey of 517 Boston-area drivers and found that 75% use their mobile device for calls or apps while driving, compared to 68% of drivers across the country who admitted to the same behavior in the 2019 Travelers Risk Index.

The survey also identified the top reasons drivers in the Greater Boston area use mobile devices while driving, including:

  • Fearing they’ll miss something important (22%).
  • Having family obligations that require constant attention (18%).
  • Being unable to resist the urge to check the phone when hearing or seeing a notification (16%).
  • Feeling that it makes the drive go by faster (13%).

Many of the drivers surveyed admitted to using their phone while driving, and nearly a quarter said they had gotten into a crash or collision due to another driver’s distraction,” said Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute and Executive Vice President of Public Policy at Travelers. “Too many lives have been affected by such careless behavior, and each of us has a responsibility to make our roads safer.”

During this event, Travelers will premiere the third video in its “Unfinished Stories” series, which honors victims of distracted driving by imagining what might have been if the crash had never occurred. This video tells the story of Howard Stein of West Townsend, Massachusetts. Emily Stein, the victim’s daughter and President of the Safe Roads Alliance, will deliver the event’s opening presentation along with Jillian Kaplan, the survivor of a crash caused by distracted driving.

It has been a privilege working with Travelers to tell my dad’s unfinished story, which honors his life and all that my family lost,” said Emily Stein. “While so much has been done to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving, there is still a long way to go, and I’m grateful for Travelers’ work to help spread the message.”

Today’s program — co-hosted by the Travelers Institute, the Safe Roads Alliance, Massachusetts General Hospital, the New England Council, the National Safety Council and the Road to Zero Coalition — will begin at 4 p.m. ET and include a panel discussion moderated by Woodward and featuring:

  • Pete Gulbrandsen, Vice President and National Auto Lead, Personal Insurance, Travelers.
  • Jeff Larason, Director, Highway Safety Division, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Ben Kotrc, Senior Data Scientist, TrueMotion, Inc.
  • Dr. R. Malcolm Smith, Chief, Orthopaedic Trauma Center, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Small actions like reaching for a phone or programming a GPS may not seem significant in the moment, but trauma centers like ours see the true cost of these distractions each day,” said Dr. Smith. “Injuries and fatalities resulting from distracted driving are entirely preventable, and greater education and awareness of those tragic consequences can help curb this dangerous habit.”

To view the “Unfinished Stories” video series and other related material, visit For more information on the company’s Every Second Matters initiative, please visit the Travelers Institute website.

About the Travelers Institute

The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc., engages in discussion and analysis of public policy topics of importance to the insurance marketplace and to the financial services industry more broadly. The Travelers Institute draws upon the industry expertise of Travelers’ senior management, as well as the technical expertise of many of Travelers’ underwriters, risk managers and other experts to provide information, analysis and solutions to public policymakers and regulators. Travelers is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. For more information, visit


Kate Thermansen, 860.954.1789


Kate Thermansen, 860.954.1789