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P&C industry needs better data about distracted driving

According to a recent webinar panel, there’s a fairly significant gap between what government agencies have to say about distracted driving and what data companies are able to capture, and that is playing a role in the ineffective portrayal and messaging around the seriousness of people using their phones while operating vehicles.

In 2019, about one-third of all trips showed “significant phone distraction,” according to Cambridge Mobile Telematics’ (CMT) own data gathered through its applications. In 2020, which included nine months during the global pandemic, the number of trips where the driver was distracted by their phone went up to 40%.

In comparison. the U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in late 2019 that the percentage of passenger vehicle drivers talking on handheld phones increased from 2.9% in 2017 to 3.2% in 2018. Those visibly using headsets while driving dropped from 0.45% to 0.35%, while visible manipulation of handheld devices went up from 2% to 2.1% in the same time period.

According to the National Safety Council, about a quarter (26%) of all car crashes involved phone use, even hands-free devices. CAA reported in 2020 that its polling found that 47% of Canadians admitted to typing or using a voice-to-text feature to send a message while driving, whereas 33% said they did it at a stoplight. Furthermore, reported that 26% of drivers have checked messages while operating a car in motion while another 41% of Canadians said they are at least somewhat likely to check messages when stopped at a traffic light.

All of this suggests that government and advocacy agency data and telematics company data are far apart. If insurers want to see risk decrease, gathering better data and improving messaging around the perils of distracted driving is a must.

To review the full report, visit: