Collisions are rising at the fastest pace in half a century, according to one insurance study. Since 2014 the number of deadly auto crashes has increased by a huge 14 percent, serious injury wrecks have jumped by 12.2 percent and pedestrian deaths by 22 percent.Insurance industry representatives point to distracted driving as the main catalyst for jump.
“Smartphone ownership has more than doubled over the past five years and it is not surprising that the percent of accidents involving phone distractions has increased, but we believe the real increase is far more than the official statistics,” one insurance official told federal officials at a special conference on this serious subject last week.
It’s truly frightening that drivers going 60 MPH are watching Netflix and You Tube videos as well as surfing the net, isn’t it?
Panelists at the conference pointed to an always connected culture as the root of the problem, with drivers constantly checking emails and texting, leading to more multitaskers behind the wheel, causing more accidents.
Stronger Penalties, New Laws Needed
Looking at solutions, the panelists primarily focused on informing young kids, teenagers, college-age adults and parents of the dangers of distracted driving as the best prevention aid for the trend.
Gordon said the penalties for driving distracted need to be increased before laws forbidding the practice will be more of a deterrent.
“Just a $200 ticket isn’t going to cut it,” one person said during the panel. “You need a sustained advertising campaign.”
Insurers are going state-by-state to try to convince local lawmakers to pass updated laws that forbid new types of distracted driving, with reasonable exceptions for navigation apps and ride sharing company drivers.