School is out, and families everywhere are making big plans for vacation. Before you pack the car for the annual summer road trip, there are a few things the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) wants you to keep in mind. Whether you plan to drive across the country, or are just enjoying a leisurely stroll through some new and beautiful city, it's important to keep your focus and be aware of your surroundings. Smartphone distractions are all around us.
A recent online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI among over 2,000 U.S. adults shows that the U.S. cities that are considered the most walkable may also be the most dangerous for pedestrians. When asked which U.S. cities they might expect to witness distracted pedestrians, three in four Americans said New York City; also the city considered to be the most walkable (57%). Other walkable cities where high numbers of distracted pedestrians are thought to be found strolling are Washington, D.C. (26% walkable; 41% distracted), Las Vegas (32%; 26%), Chicago (19%; 31%), and San Francisco (27%; 27%).
"Distracted walking could be as dangerous as distracted driving," said Robert Passmore, PCI's assistant vice president personal lines policy. "Urban areas are now faced with the growing threat of pedestrians glued to smartphones, putting themselves as well as motorists in greater danger."
State and federal policymakers are weighing solutions for preventing deaths and injuries linked to driver and pedestrian smartphone distractions. While legislation may take time, PCI and auto insurers are pushing for the immediate benefits of education and awareness as to these expanding dangers.
"Multi-tasking while walking through downtown might seem like a time saver, but you're putting yourself in danger. Pedestrians on smartphones take longer to cross the street, and even if they check for cars before crossing, all too often they turn their attention back to their phones while still in the middle of the intersection," added Passmore.
Teenagers are especially vulnerable to accidents caused by smartphone distractions. Research by Safe Kids Worldwide, reveals that one in five teens admit they cross streets while distracted by a mobile device. A recent AAA study also found that the 15 to 19 year old demographic has the largest proportion of distracted drivers. The research shows that teens are distracted nearly a quarter of the time they're behind the wheel and they are four times more likely than adults to get into crashes while using their cell phone.
"As a parent, these statistics are terrifying, which is why we must work together to educate our loved ones to put the phone down and pay attention. It's up to all of us to practice safe driving habits and to keep our eyes on the road," said Passmore.
PCI's 8 Driving Safety Tips:
Whether you're taking a summer get-away or just running errands around town, we encourage you to buckle up, drive safely and try to be prepared for those who may not. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
Always Designate a Driver. If you plan to drink-make sure you have a driver who is sober.
Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a traffic crash increases. We encourage motorists to plan their routes in advance when traveling to new destinations, be patient, and allow for extra travel time.
Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Please be cautious of the construction workers themselves, who are often in close proximity to the highway - and at great risk.
Avoid distracted driving. When the entire family is traveling in the car, the opportunity for distraction is multiplied. Remember to put the phone down, and never text while driving. Be careful when eating on the run, as lunch can be just as distracting as a cell phone. Buckle up or secure pets in the back of the car.
Beware of crash taxes. Although they have been banned or limited in several states, many cities, counties and fire districts will charge the at-fault driver for emergency response costs in an auto accident. Fees range from $100 to over $2,000 for response services. The average cost is $200. A typical insurance policy does not cover the cost of a fire truck responding to an accident.
Have a plan for roadside assistance. If an accident occurs, be wary of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready so you know who to call. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident and you could find yourself facing excessive fees or complications recovering your car from the tow yard.
Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road, make sure to replace any expired insurance identification cards in the event you need to prove you have insurance during a traffic stop.