3 steps for insurance companies to begin solving for distracted driving

Is your insurance company covering the biggest potential opportunities to help stop distracted driving, reduce costs, and save lives?

I think back to a few years ago when I was stopped at a red light with my daughter in the backseat. Out of nowhere, the car behind me glided right into my rear-end. A quick apology and an offer to foot the bill to replace my bumper. He’d clearly been distracted while driving – texting – when he hit me.  

My own family has been impacted multiple times by careless drivers and avoidable accidents that could have been prevented. My husband was hit head-on traveling 55mph when a drunk driver flew across a median and ran into him, flipping his car three times. Fortunately, with every accident we’ve been in – we’ve all walked away without a scratch. Others haven’t been so lucky. There are an estimated 9 people killed each day from distracted driving alone. 

Distracted driving is a well-known problem that many industries are tackling from a variety of angles, though insurance companies top that list. That’s because insurers understand how expensive distracted driving can be in terms of loss costs and the significant risk it puts policyholders of injury or worse. 

We know distracted driving is dangerous. And in the insurance industry, we possess unique tools to help make the roads safer. If you work for an insurance company or love the industry like me, here’s my take on how to reduce distracted driving, lower costs, and save lives using insurance tools:

Leverage real-world behavioral driving data

  • Collect and analyze mobile phone telematics data. Without measurable data, your strategies for distracted driving prevention are only guesses.
  • Measure the distracted driving behaviors that contribute to the frequency and severity of accidents.  Not all distracted driving attribute to the same level of risk.
  • Consider phone usage and how to reduce distracted driving by assessing how often drivers pick up their devices during trips.
  • Validate the data  by ensuring that real-world, behind-the-wheel experiences align with your conclusions.
  • Create comprehensive distracted driving models based on mobile sensor data to identify and account for different behaviors at different times. With only 18% of the variation in distracted driving being explained by driving behavior measured by OBD-II devices, using mobile sensor data is crucial.

Develop a successful safety program

  • Design a well-researched program that will impact a large percentage of your drivers. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so iterate, iterate, iterate on your program.
  • Provide time-relevant positive feedback  to reinforce safe and distraction-free driving.
  • Leverage scoring and user experience design to help customers understand how to reduce distracted driving by changing their behavior behind the wheel.  
  • Reward safer drivers with policy discounts.
  • Give policyholders personalized coaching  based on proven behavioral science methods to drive awareness and ownership of their actions. 

Continually monitor new behaviors and evolve

  • Capture distracted driving data in a natural setting  to inform and improve on more effective models and programs.
  • Identify and measure new behaviors that contribute to accidents.
  • Constantly improve algorithms  based on deeper data and layers of analysis.
  • Create more effective, personalized rates  for new policyholders and emerging markets, like sharing economy company drivers.
  • Determine which incentives and strategies  have worked, whether they are still working, and how they need to evolve and remain effective.

Of course, all these steps are easier said than done. Partnering with a telematics company that has a wealth of driving data can jumpstart your efforts to achieve these items on my list.  I’m optimistic that the road will be safer for my kids if insurance companies make distracted driving safety campaigns a priority. With insurance tools, we can see fewer accidents, lower costs, and safer roads!

Read more about what auto insurers can do to combat distracted driving.

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Arity is a mobility data and analytics company. We provide data-driven solutions to companies invested in transportation, enabling them to deliver mobility services that are smarter, safer, and more economical.