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.