Tag Archives: distracted driving

New smartphone-based driving risk score detects drivers that are 13 times more likely to crash

Milliman has announced a new innovation in the InsurTech space—a driving “risk score” created with tech start-up Zendrive that is up to six times more powerful than the leading predictive models.

Milliman teamed up with Zendrive, a smartphone-powered driving analytics company, to study how distracted driving and other driving behaviors can lead to auto collisions. Using Zendrive data, Milliman verified the behaviors that were strong indicators of collision frequency and created a risk score to compare the “worst” drivers relative to the “best.” Their findings revealed that the worst 10% of drivers were over 13 times more likely to be involved in a crash than the best 10% of drivers. The results were based on one of—if not the—largest telematics data set in the United States. As of today, Zendrive has captured over 40 billion miles of driving behavior via smartphone sensors.

Smartphones can measure driving behaviors that traditional, first-generation telematics can’t, such as who is driving the vehicle and phone usage contributing to distracted driving. These new-age predictors contributed to a risk score that is over six times more accurate than the current industry leader models, which use traditional hardware-based telematics devices. There’s an opportunity here for auto insurers, especially commercial auto fleet insurers, to be early adopters of this technology, and improve their abilities to measure and rate risk.

To read more about the study, click here. Also, to read more about Milliman’s InsurTech research, click here.

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Milliman and Zendrive create driving risk score with 30 billion miles of smartphone data

As more drivers use smartphones to talk, text, and perform other functions while driving, concern over distracted driving and its contribution to climbing collision rates has increased. Using data collected by Zendrive, Milliman recently studied the impact of distracted driving and other driving behaviors on collision frequency. Consultant Sheri Scott provides some perspective in this article.

The insurance risks of handheld devices

Carbone-WilliamAs handheld devices continue their march toward world domination, they have brought along a new set of insurance risks to threaten the bottom lines of insurers. While some of these risks are simply altering the landscape of traditional coverages, others are creating a need for innovative products that can address the arrival of new kinds of claims that may emerge. Let’s take a look at some of the dangers handheld devices have introduced to us and, in turn, the insurance world.

Distracted driving
No list of insurance risks related to handheld devices, specifically cell phones in this instance, would be complete without discussing the impact of distracted driving on the auto liability industry. The details and statistics are abundant and vary by source, but according to the latest annual report from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Institute over 3,100 people were killed and 420,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver during 2013. While talking on a cell phone is still the leading cause of distracted driving accidents, texting receives a great deal of attention because of the nearly universal understanding that it is a serious detriment to driving ability. Combine this with texting being the preferred mode of communication of most teenagers and young adults—the cohort with the least driving experience—and we have a dangerous combination on the roads and a rise in the auto liability frequency statistics.

Text (or iPhone) neck
Despite what you may believe about the egomaniac down the hall, most human heads weigh about 10 pounds, balanced atop a cord of bones and cartilage called a spine. For each inch we tilt our spine out of its proper alignment, checking e-mail on our tablet or instagramming our cheeseburgers, we double the pressure on it. This can lead to symptoms ranging from soreness and inflammation to pinched nerves to an overall decrease in our metabolism. These all seem like issues that the health industry will likely face as handheld device use—and chiropractor salaries—continue to trend upward.

Distracted walking
Despite an overall decrease in pedestrian injuries since 2005, the number of pedestrian fatalities that are due to distracted walking has doubled. Distracted walkers tend to walk at a slower pace with little to no arm swing, typically with their heads down, as cognitive abilities are focused on the task at hand rather than at foot. As those in heavily used pedestrian areas will tell you, distracted walkers also tend to change direction or stop seemingly at random and often struggle with obstacles such as curbs and other pedestrians. The potential for injuries is significant, whether it is due to stepping in front of moving vehicles or to rolling an ankle on an uneven sidewalk. Despite public service announcements to raise awareness of the issue, it does not appear to be going away.

Cyber liability
One of the hottest topics at any actuarial convention is intimately linked with your handheld device. While cyber security headlines focus on the large-scale theft of personally identifiable information, there is also an omnipresent threat of losing individual information through a stolen or hacked cell phone or tablet. A hacked cell phone (or one not password-protected) can be used to gain access to personal records, data, and information saved on apps as well as sensitive material, which can be held ransom. Those using these devices for professional purposes may also have corporate secrets or other nonpublic information on their phones or tablets. It is not a stretch to imagine that a lost handheld device could be as damaging as a lost laptop.

Product liability?
The pilot episode of “CSI: Cyber” was centered on a hacked baby monitor, a terrifying thought for any parent. Unfortunately, this was not a work of science fiction, but one based in fact. As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows to include more and more items, it opens up our daily lives to cyber vulnerability. Despite the basic preventive measures we take, allowing wireless access to nanny cams, security systems, and home heating systems will also open the virtual door for the motivated hacker as well. If damages occur and the manufacturer of these products, or the apps that service them, are deemed to have been negligent in protecting customers’ security or in warning them about security vulnerabilities, product liability claims may be brought against them. While the standard of care does not appear to be high to date, it would only take one landmark case to change the shape of the products liability landscape in the IoT universe.

Distracted driving accounts for 60% of teen crashes

A new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that six out of 10 teen driver accidents resulted from being distracted. Here are some key findings from the report:

The most frequent potentially-distracting behaviors were conversing or otherwise interacting with passengers and cell phone use.

• Passengers were present in 36% of all crashes
o 84% of passengers were estimated to be ages 16-19; fewer than 5% were parents or other adults.
o Driver was conversing or otherwise interacting with passenger in 15% of crashes.

• The driver was engaged in cell phone use in 12% of crashes
o Visibly using a cell phone in 8% of all crashes;
o Cell phone use appeared likely (driver looking at or manipulating something out of view of the camera) in an additional 4%.

• Cell phone use varied significantly by crash type:
o Visible in 21% of road-departure crashes, not visible but likely in additional 13%
o Visible in 10% of rear-end crashes, not visible but likely in additional 8%
o Least prevalent in single-vehicle loss-of-control crashes (most of these involved adverse weather or surface conditions).

• Drivers operating or looking at cell phones looked away from the forward roadway excessively – spent an average of 4.1 seconds out of final 6 seconds before the crash looking away.
• The driver exhibited no reaction at all before impact in over half of rear-end crashes involving cell phone use.

Distracted driving has key implications for the auto insurance industry. In the article “Distracted driving: Text-mining accident descriptions,” Milliman’s Phil Borba discusses how text mining can help insurers capture cell phone use at the time of an accident. The article also identifies major considerations regarding the use of cell phones on auto insurance premiums and claim adjusting.

The cellphone (and use of electronic equipment generally) introduces a new aspect into the operation of a vehicle and one which poses a challenge for setting insurance rates. Generally, cell phones are seen as distractions to the operation of a vehicle and are likely to increase the frequency and possibly the severity of accidents. Furthermore, the nature of the equipment may have differing effects on the frequency and severity of accidents. Steering-wheel and voice-activated controls for built-in cell phones may be safer than plug-in after-market equipment, while external devices (e.g., hands-free headsets) may be the least safe model.

Insurance premiums notwithstanding, more responsible use of cellphones may occur through state laws prohibiting or limiting their irresponsible use. Similar to the case with powerful vehicles that can increase speed beyond safe limits, state laws may impose some control over the irresponsible use of cellphones. Violations of state laws can carry fines, and the points on one’s license can increase the driver’s insurance premium.

Drivers’ use of electronic communication devices will also influence claim adjusting—in particular, assigning responsibility and liability when a distraction has occurred. However, the most commonly used data-capture reports do not enable the report-taker to report if the driver was distracted, or the nature of the distraction. As an alternative, claim adjuster notes, and other text reports, can provide a great deal of information on the circumstances attendant to an accident. These text-format data sources provide a great deal of information that can be tapped for deciphering the activities preceding, during, and after an accident.

Watch this video to learn more about how text mining can enhance claim analytics.

Distracted driving: Text-mining accident descriptions

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a policy statement advising drivers to resist engaging in any activity that distracts from the operation of a motor vehicle, specifically mentioning the use of cell phones, and recommended that states prohibit “novice” drivers from using electronic communication devices during the learners and intermediate stages of a driver license program.

Deliberations over this policy statement will certainly attract many interested parties—including manufacturers (automobile, as well as makers of the electronic devices), driver associations, consumer safety advocates, and automobile insurers.

A recent Milliman Insight article discusses a uniquely effective way to uncover examples of distracted driving.