The number of people who drive daily decreased from 63% pre-pandemic to 47% today, according to Travelers, yet the insurer also found people are reporting higher levels of distracted driving.
In its 2021 Risk Index, Travelers found the shift to less crowded roads altered people’s perception of driving. Nearly a quarter of respondents think the roads are safer today than prior to the pandemic, and almost one-third of respondents think their driving has improved since the pandemic.
“I have seen everything from texting, to putting makeup on, to even reading a newspaper while driving." Steve Fields, a professional driver with Yellow
The reality is, distractions are up. Reports of texting or emailing reached 26%, up from 19% pre-pandemic. Checking social media hit 20%, up from 13% pre-pandemic. Taking videos and pictures topped 19%, up from 10% pre-pandemic, and shopping online more than doubled – 17%, up from 8% pre-pandemic, according to Travelers' 2021 Risk Index.
"As a professional truck driver, I am shocked to see the amount of distracted driving on our highways,” said Steve Fields, a professional driver with Yellow. “I have seen everything from texting, to putting makeup on, to even reading a newspaper while driving. Taking your eyes off of the road for just two seconds compromises highway safety. Anything we can do to reduce distraction is a good thing.”
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) Tuesday threw its support behind the Safe to Drive Act, legislation introduced last month that is aimed at helping states curb distracted driving. The bipartisan bill – which was also introduced in April 2019 in a previous session of Congress but did not receive a vote – would provide grants to states that pass laws banning mobile device use that can be used to enforce distracted driving laws as well as educate motorists about the risks of distracted driving.
“The trucking industry has been subject to a mobile device ban for some time and has seen the benefit it can have on safety,” said ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath. “Given data showing the majority of car-truck collisions are the result of passenger driver behavior, extending those bans to all drivers and not just truck drivers will have a positive impact on safety.”