PHILADELPHIA — Mobile devices continue to distract drivers in the greater Philadelphia area, according to a survey recently commissioned by The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies.
The survey findings were part of a Tuesday symposium “Harnessing Science, Tech and Innovation to Combat Distracted Driving,” today at the University of Pennsylvania. The program, part of the company’s Every Second Matters ? distracted driving education series, is being held in conjunction with the Behavioral Science and Analytics for Injury Reduction Lab, the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, the Penn Injury Science Center, Penn Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Injury Research and Prevention.
The symposium addressed behavioral science behind distracted driving and explored research-driven approaches to increasing roadway safety.
The survey among 435 drivers found that 75 percent use a mobile device while driving, with 91 percent of millennials, 79 percent of Gen Xers and 64 percent of baby boomers engaging in this behavior.
The survey also identified how drivers in the region are using mobile devices while behind the wheel. Top activities included:
- Reading texts or emails (48 percent).
- Updating or checking social media, such as Facebook or Twitter (23 percent).
- Recording video (18 percent).
“Crashes caused by people choosing to look at their phone rather than the road are entirely preventable,” said Michael Klein, executive vice president and president, Personal Insurance at Travelers. “Technology like a ‘do not disturb’ function on your phone, which only 9 percent of our survey respondents said they use, is one solution that can help more drivers stay focused. Distracted driving remains a significant danger in Philadelphia and across the country, underscoring the importance of education, research and action.”
When it comes to preventing driver distraction, the Travelers survey found that the greatest deterrent for all ages comes from the fear of causing a collision (40 percent). This ranked higher than having a loved one involved in a collision related to distracted driving; having the option to utilize mobile device blocking technology; and legislation prohibiting phone use.
“Distracted driving has become a national public health issue,” said Dr. Kit Delgado, assistant professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and a practicing trauma center physician. . “There are many lessons to be learned from the study of human behavior and behavior change. When you combine that with new, scalable technology available in today’s smartphones, there may be promising avenues to explore to help combat the distracted driving epidemic.”
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