11:37 AM

Think you’re not driving distracted? Think again!

Nationwide lays out how often people are distracted behind the wheel

Consider what you would do if you were driving down the road at 45 mph and lost visibility for six seconds—barreling forward, no braking, no slowing down, no ability to see. This is essentially what happens 13 times a day for the average driver according to new data released by Nationwide1.

“What kind of damage could be caused in those six seconds? It may seem dramatic, but this ‘driving blind’ is happening every day on our roadways in the form of distracted driving,” said Nationwide’s Beth Riczko, president of P&C personal lines. “According to data obtained from our SmartRide®  telematics program, the average participant is taking their eyes off the road too many times, for too long—creating a danger for themselves, their passengers, pedestrians, and others on the road.”

While a close call behind the wheel can be an eye-opening experience, it doesn’t always change driving behavior. 45% of every trip taken has a driving distraction, and over 70% of people are distracted at least once while driving each day. Our friends at Lexus put together a great video shattering the misconceptions people have about momentary distractions.

In September 2020, Nationwide’s SmartRide mobile app started showing drivers when and how they were distracted by their phones.

The distraction trends uncovered are alarming:

  • The most distracted time window is 4-7 p.m.
  • The majority of distractions happen between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • The most distracted day of the week is Friday
  • The least distracted day of the week is Tuesday
  • The average speed when distractions occur is 45 mph
  • The average screen tapping event lasts six seconds
  • Handheld phone calls average more than two minutes (160 seconds)

“We’ve introduced an experience that provides customized feedback on phone distractions and it’s helping to reduce distracted driving on our roadways. The reality is that too many drivers are multitasking behind the wheel, putting themselves and others at risk. The good news is drivers are willing to change their behaviors,” said Riczko.

Nationwide has taken a strong position on distracted driving. Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker announced last year the company’s advocacy for all 50 states to adopt hands-free, primary enforcement laws to curb distracted driving. States that have adopted these laws have seen a 15 percent decrease in fatalities. Nationwide is also seeking the adoption of model legislation by NCOIL, the National Council of Insurance Legislators, as part of its efforts.

The company is also providing distracted driving feedback to drivers through its SmartRide2 Mobile program, which is changing driving behavior. In less than a year, there has been a 10 percent reduction in everyday hand-held distractions among these drivers. The goal of providing feedback on phone use while behind the wheel is to increase drivers’ awareness on the frequency of this behavior and reduce crashes associated with distracted driving.

To learn more about phone distraction feedback provided with SmartRide click here, or talk to your independent insurance agent.

Methodology: Data is from Nationwide SmartRide mobile app users. Distracted driving program launched in June 2020, with trip feedback provided to drivers starting in September 2020. Research examined phone distractions that include active screen time while the vehicle is moving more than 15km. External distraction factors not considered include eating, adjusting the radio, or Bluetooth/hands-free cell phone usage. 

Availability varies; program criteria differs in California and North Carolina. Stated discounts are approximations. Discounts do not apply to all coverage elements; actual savings vary by state, coverage selections, rating factors and policy changes. Enrollment discount applies during data collection; final discount is calculated on driving behavior and could be zero. Final discount applies at the next policy renewal and is subject to change based upon actuarial support at subsequent renewals or with changes in drivers or vehicles on the policy.