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Nearly 80% of respondents to a recent Travelers survey said inattentive driving is more of a problem now than it has been in past years.

Travelers noted the pandemic triggered a new wave of dangerous habits. The 2024 Travelers Risk Index cataloged behaviors that have been on the rise since before the pandemic, which include:

  • Updating or checking social media: +13%.
  • Typing a text or email: +10%.
  • Talking on a cellphone (hands-free): +10%.
  • Using a cellphone to record videos/take photos: +9%.
  • Reading a text or email: +9%.

After decades of steady decline in roadway fatalities, U.S. traffic deaths jumped in 2021, and the fatality rate has remained high in subsequent years. The latest official data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows U.S. traffic deaths jumped by 10.5% in 2021, and NHTSA’s estimates since then show a similarly high fatality rate.

The 2024 index surveyed more than 1,000 consumers and business managers about perceptions of risk in their daily lives. Four in 10 drivers surveyed have experienced a “near-miss” because of their own distracted driving, and 12% admit they have been in a crash due to their own distraction. Almost one-third of drivers (31%) report being in a crash due to other drivers’ distractions.

With rising commercial auto insurance rates, 85% of executives surveyed said they have concerns about employees’ driving habits, especially surrounding technology, up from 77% last year. The concern has moved the majority of executives surveyed (68%) to implement distracted driving policies that include prohibiting the use of handheld devices while driving (53%) and punishment for employees who violate the policy (77%).

While teen drivers have notoriously been one of the deadliest demographics on the road, parents surveyed are increasingly concerned and setting ground rules for young drivers, including limiting cell phone use (72%), limiting the number of passengers (61%) and restricting driving times (53%) and distances (62%).

“Distraction is one of the leading causes of roadway fatalities, and it continues to have a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities,” said Michael Klein, executive vice president and president of personal insurance at Travelers. “Creating safer roadways requires action from each of us, and while the survey results show that people are concerned about distracted driving, they are still unfortunately taking dangerous risks.”

As with previous findings, the 2024 index showed that passengers voicing their concerns (86%) and financial rewards for safe driving (86%) could be strong motivators to curb distracted driving. “Distracted driving is a preventable crisis,” said Chris Hayes, assistant vice president of workers’ compensation and transportation, risk control, at Travelers. “If you’re the passenger in a vehicle, speak up if the driver isn’t paying attention to the road. If you’re an employer, avoid calling employees when you know they’re driving. If you’re a parent, be a positive role model by putting the phone away and avoiding distractions when you’re behind the wheel.”