Distracted Driving Laws and their Impact on Driving Safety

Distracted driving has become a focal point for debate in recent years. At this point, it is well understood that most accidents are caused by driver error. This rate has been increasing in recent years, as drivers find themselves more distracted.

Distracted Driving

According to Mass.gov, the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers has gone up by one hundred and seventy percent (2014-2016). And that’s just based on Massachusetts statistics. Every state and country is dealing with the same concern.

One federal report indicated that there were 3,142 deaths associated with distracted driving – in 2019 alone. Delving into these stats a little further, young drivers under thirty had a higher percentage than older drivers.

Distracted driving can come in many forms. A driver could be focused on their phone, GPS, music, hundreds of different things. Think back to the last time you were on the road: how often did you see somebody on their phone or a driver without hands on the wheel?

New Laws

In response to the rise of distracted driving, many states have opted to enforce new laws. In America, forty-eight states have passed laws banning texting while driving. In addition, thirty states have banned handheld devices for drivers. 

Some states don’t stop there – twenty-four states have now banned all cellphone use while driving. As with many regulations, these are specific to the state and can have slight variations. Some states have even begun to tackle other forms of distracted driving. For example, New Jersey recently passed Maggie’s Law, a law designed to target drowsy driving.

In many instances, the laws regarding distracted driving tend to be harsher for teen drivers. Having a distracted teen behind the wheel has always been a concern. As such, there are laws already on the books in many states regarding teen distractions. These new initiatives are merely adding to what was already there.

Do They Work?

The real question on everyone’s mind is: do these distracted driving laws work? While no such initiative will be flawless, there is evidence to suggest that these laws impact society.

The University of Alabama Birmingham School of Public Health looked into the impact made by these laws. They found three critical factors. First, enforcement of the laws resulted in fewer fatalities associated with distracted driving. Second, targeting specific populations (IE: teen drivers) was highly effective in terms of reducing the number of deaths among this group. And third, a total ban on phones/handheld devices did effectively reduce accidents resulting in fatalities.

Car Tech Designed with Seniors in Mind

Supply and demand go hand in hand. When there’s a need, it is only natural that the market responds by creating an appropriate product. In this case, that means designing a car with seniors in mind.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are more than forty-five million drivers over the age of sixty-five. This is relevant information, as this number is a significant increase from the years previous. By 2030, it is estimated that there will be another significant increase as Baby Boomers grow older.

All of this means that more people than ever face the ever-growing fear that they will not be able to transport themselves safely at some point in their futures. The ability to drive places is integral for independent living – in some states more than others. Current solutions have proved not to be enough, so it is time to look towards auto manufacturers.

Enhancing Controls

One option that car manufacturers are considering is enhancing the controls already available to drivers. These options include access, visibility, and management. In other words, they’re working to make the cars more comfortable and approachable. While this will undoubtedly help, it is but one side of the solution.

Accident Prevention

These days, many car manufacturers have been working hard at developing collision prevention tech. This tech includes rear and side cameras, automatic crash notifications, blind spot warnings, adaptive headlights, and more. 

Taking it a step further are companies such as Nissan Murano, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo S60. Their models have an additional feature available to detect when a driver is becoming drowsy and prompt a warning. 

Injury Reduction

Sometimes it isn’t possible to avoid an accident, and that’s where the next round of research has been focused: reducing injuries. The University of Michigan and Wayne State University have been working on reducing injuries seniors receive during car accidents. These studies understand that older bones are more fragile and prone to further damage during a crash. The ultimate goal is to design a car that will help protect passengers as much as possible. 

Emergency Response

AAA makes driving safer for everyone, as they offer immediate response times for broken-down vehicles and accidents. Other companies have followed suit, making it easier to reach out for assistance when on the road.

Self-Driving Cars

While self-driving cars have yet to be perfected, there’s no doubt that they will help seniors once fully available to the public. Realistically, self-driving vehicles will make everyone safer in the long run; this is why companies have been pushing so hard to perfect the technology.

How Advancing Car Tech Can Prevent Drunk Driving

The drive to create new and safer ways to travel is still going strong – especially in the automotive industry. Each year new advances come out, from better seatbelts to collision prevention features and cameras.

Most recently, the government has been encouraging automakers to develop a new line of safe cars: cars that will automatically detect whether the driver is drunk and prevent them from getting on the road.

Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act

The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act was introduced in April of 2021 as part of a larger bill. This infrastructure bill encompasses many concerns and has a one trillion dollar budget alongside the proposed changes.

One of those proposed changes is anti-drunk driving technology – in all cars. The bill has yet to be finalized, so nothing is yet set in stone. But automakers would be wise to start paying attention – and planning.

The bill has many driving-related concerns, most of them reliant on new technology. For example, the creation of an automated alert system for children left behind in the car.

Anti-Drunk Driving Provisions

While the wording is slightly ambiguous, the implication within this bill feels reasonably evident. Automakers will have a few years to design and begin implementing preventive technology, assuming the bill passes.

The idea is very similar to cars available to drivers with a history of impaired driving. The technology would automatically look for standard physiological features of an intoxicated driver – and prevent the vehicle from moving should the results be concerning.

One feature may be a more advanced version of an automotive breath-testing unit. This would potentially mean that each car would have to be equipped with a unit or a different means of testing for impairment – such as cameras.

The fight to prevent drunk driving has been a long one, and at times it feels like the impact of these lessons and laws has not been enough. Given the current car crash statistics, it is hardly surprising that lawmakers are trying to take matters into their own hands.

One of the primary problems with enforcing this new level of technology would be the additional cost – which would likely be passed down to the consumers. 

 

Are Smarter Cars Making Drivers Worse?

Who doesn’t love the idea of a smart car? They’re comfortable, convenient, and make our lives easier. Yet there’s a growing concern that the latest generation of cars may just be training people to be worse drivers – and that’s dangerous.

Who can forget the headlines from 2020, when a Tesla user crashed their car because they were too busy watching a movie. While this may be a stand-out example, it does raise a very valid concern. 

The Intention Behind Smart Cars

Smart cars are designed for comfort, yes, but they are also designed for safety. That’s their primary goal. The whole push for self-driving vehicles has less to do with lazy drivers and more to do with eliminating human error.

According to studies, more than ninety percent of car crashes were caused by drivers. In other words, they were caused by human error. Naturally, this explains why car and insurance companies alike would be interested in developing safer tech.

How This Concept Can Backfire

So, given the altruistic intent behind smart cars, how is it possible that the idea is backfiring? It’s simple – people are getting distracted. We are not yet at a point where self-driving cars are easily accessible (or necessarily legal), and that means the current tech out there can create just as much of a distraction as anything.

People get distracted by all of the devices in their cars. They play with the radio, their phone, and now the new shiny tech that comes along for the ride. According to a study run by State Farm, these distractions are making us worse drivers.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that certain drivers rely too much on safety technology. Adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist tools are being abused so that people can multitask within the car. Until we hit a point where self-driving cars are a given – this is extremely dangerous. The result is a road full of dangerously distracted drivers. Even if these drivers are in the minority, plenty of drivers are still too distracted by their phones

The Solution

Like many problems in the automotive industry, the solution comes down to regulation. More and more states are outlawing cell phones in cars – and that is just the first step in the process. Regulating these distractions is unfortunately essential, but that’s not the only step.

The other part of this process is education. Drivers need to be made more aware of the risk they take when doing this – and what it can cost. The automotive industry can get involved in this process by developing technology that discourages phone use and the like, much like the push towards seatbelts. 

Apps Making Driving Safer

Every day new technology is made for the express purpose of making people safer. This is especially true in the car industry, where safety is paramount – and the definition is constantly shifting.

Most recently, a new trend has been popping up in the auto industry. There are now dozens of apps out there to help people drive more safely. These apps are great for teenagers and adults alike and are available on multiple platforms. 

SafeDrive

SafeDrive is the perfect app for anyone actively trying to limit their phone usage while driving. SafeDrive is an app that believes phones can be a dangerous distraction in the car and works to reward drivers for keeping their phones away when behind the wheel.

LifeSaver

While LifeSaver is targeted more towards teen drivers (or, more accurately, the parents of teen drivers), this is an app for anyone. LifeSaver combines GPS monitoring with a rewards system similar to that of SafeDrive. Parents can track their teens and help reward them for keeping their phones safely tucked away. 

DriveMode

DriveMode is very similar to the apps mentioned above in that it discourages distracted driving by reducing phone use. DriveMode silences call, alerts, and texts while driving. Additionally, it can send out auto-replies in the meantime, so there is no need to worry about a lack of response on the driver’s part.

Inrix

Inrix doubles as a safety and map app. It learns from users’ driving habits, creating individualized routes that help avoid traffic. The goal is to keep drivers focused on the road and not figure out how to get from A to B.

Mojo

Mojo is another monitoring app, but with a twist. Mojo monitors user driving statistics and rates them according to how safe their driving is. The app allows users to accumulate points, which eventually begin to earn gift cards as physical rewards.

iOnRoad

iOnRoad is an innovative new app that takes full advantage of today’s technology. It uses augmented reality to map out the other cars on the road and will send automatic alerts when your vehicle gets too close to another.

EverDrive

Are you feeling a bit more competitive about safe driving? EverDrive is the perfect app for that. EverDrive rates users on their safe driving by monitoring acceleration, braking, and speed. From there, it provides total scores, which can be shared with the neighborhood.

The Best New Tech Safety Features in Cars

There has been a steady influx of tech features being rolled out by car manufactures, and 2021 is going to be no different. Any new automobile technology’s primary goal, regardless of its purpose for comfort, safety, or entertainment, is to avoid driver distraction. Here are some of the highest-rated safety tech features in cars for 2021.

 

Teen drivers are still the riskiest group on the roads and also the biggest worry for parents. With Chevy’s Teen Driver, parents can stay connected via a system that alerts when the car is driven over a speed limit, or the forward collision alert is triggered. They are also provided with a safety report card. Buckle to Drive is a feature of GM’s Teen Driver car system and displays notifications about safety. It also provides parents with a driver’s report card. 

 

Digital car keys have now become a valuable tool in automotive safety. The ability to start a car remotely is not only luxurious and convenient, but it reduces the amount of time a person has to wait to get inside and lock the doors. The proactive gauges that monitor fuel levels and tire pressure cut down drastically on the possibility of becoming trapped in a dangerous situation or breaking down. The future will see smartphones acting as remote keys. 

 

One of the most annoying and dangerous car elements is the blind spot caused by side pillars. New technology includes blind-spot sensors and monitors. Mounted on either the side or rear of the car, they can detect when vehicles are approaching and send either visual or audio alerts. Brands like Kia and Hyundai provide this feature within the gauge cluster, which keeps the driver focused on the road. 

 

Humans are slowly warming up to the concept of having driver-assisted technology. Some co-pilot packages offer hands-free driving, automated parking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, reverse brake assist, and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). Faster than a human’s ability to respond, AEB will also brake harder if danger seems imminent. This revolutionary safety feature The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes AEB, dynamic brake support (DBS), and crash imminent braking (CIB) will be the most significant developments in the fight against traffic fatalities. 

Will Car Safety Tech Lower Insurance Rates?

With the rise of more technologically advanced cars comes the expectation of safety. Many new features in vehicles, such as collision avoidance and parking assistance, are designed to help make the driving experience a safer one.

With the increase in safety comes the assumption that there will be a decrease in car insurance costs. However, it is never safe to make any assumptions in the world of insurance, and thus it is essential to research the matter.

Car Safety Tech

Every single year new advancements are made in the world of technology. Much of the new technology developed for automobiles has been to make travel safer for all. There’s no doubt that self-driving cars will come around, eventually. In the meantime, here are plenty of innovations to bridge the gap.

Collision warning systems are a common piece of car safety tech. Other features can include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, cabin camera, and adaptive headlights. 

Tech Effectiveness

The latest Consumer Reports indicate strongly that the latest advancements in car safety technology do work as intended. They prevent collisions or reduce the severity of them when unavoidable.

Naturally, this means that lives can be saved and injuries avoided. However, there is a negative worth discussing at this point. Much of the technology available today is hidden behind increased expenses. A car with additional features is not as affordable as a more basic model, so it will not apply to everyone.

Technology vs. Human Error

While it is true that technology has been working hard to make driving a safer experience for all, there are some mitigating factors to consider. According to recent research, human driving has been getting worse, even while the technology gets better.

Bobbie Seppelt, from MIT, has been studying part of this phenomenon since 2015. The study has focused on driver attention and has found that distracted and multitasking drivers have become more common.

Furthermore, the study found that when car safety tech is at play, there are two types of users. First, there are the people who trust the tech, sometimes even going so far as to experiment with it or even rely on it too heavily. Conversely, some may outright stop using the technology.

Car Insurance And Technology Costs

While these advancements in car safety tech meet their intended goals – to save lives – they do so at an increased cost. This, in turn, makes it more expensive for insurance companies to replace.

It doesn’t take much to realize where this train of thought is leading. With the new technology costing more for insurers to replace, there is little incentive to decrease insurance plans. 

For example, The Zebra pointed out that a regular bumper would cost between $300 and $700 to replace, with a bumper with sensors would cost more than $1,000 to replace. When looking into how much is saved, it turns out that the average car safety tech can only save around 1% on car insurance. Perhaps this is something that will change in the future, as care safety tech and insurance companies learn to work together.

 

Best Practices: Retention & Customer Service

Running a business largely depends on maintaining and gaining customers each month. For an insurance agency in particular, retaining customers and making sure they are satisfied with their insurance agent will play a major role in deciphering your insurance company from many others. Here are a few ways you can make sure that your customer service is above and beyond so that you can retain customers and grow your business:

First, know your customer. At many insurance agencies, people become numbers and there are very little personal interactions and connections between employees and customers. A good company, regardless of what type of business it caters to, knows the people they are serving – without them, business would plummet. Communication is key when it comes to building relationships with your customers, so be sure your employees are great at effectively communicating. Nobody wants to get help from a computer, so make sure your employees don’t sound like one. Having compassion for customers is the initial step towards great customer service.

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Next, your employees should be knowledgeable and know how to answer questions about insurance policies in general and specific to your company. In the event that a question cannot be answered, there should be a protocol for your employee to tell the client that he or she will speak to a manager and will give them know as soon as possible. Make sure a follow-up email or phone call is setup so that the client is not left hanging. Your employees should speak with confidence and be well-educated for their position. If your company does not have a basic annual training program for both new and old employees, that is something that should be implemented right away.

Another aspect of customer service that your company should be up to par with is answering emails and responding to phone call in a timely fashion. No customer should be left in the dark if he or she has a question or is expecting an update of some sort. Be sure that your employees have a 24-48 hour rule when it comes to responding to voicemails and emails – even text messages if everyone has a company cell phone. Being attentive and responding to customers is extremely important for your business, because if you don’t respond the customer is not likely to a) refer you to prospective clients and b) have a good experience with the company, which could lead to negative feedback and may eventually not be a customer anymore. Even if the question seems vague or unimportant, your employees should hop on the phone with the customer and listen to what they have to say.

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In conclusion, if customers are not satisfied with the service you are providing, they will not continue to use your product. Communicating effectively and responding quickly to voicemails, emails, and text messages are great ways to stay in touch and actively engage with your customers so that they will want to stay with your company as long as possible.

Best Practices: Training Employees

Training employees so they can know the ins and outs of their job as insurance agents is vital to their own personal success, as well as the success of your business as a whole. Perhaps what’s even more important than training employees is the way you execute training.

Often times, agencies do not train employees specifically for their job duties. In turn, this leads to employees being disengaged in training, and it ends up being somewhat of a waste of time. Instead, everyone in the insurance agency should be trained based on their specific position and not a position that they are not specialized in, nor should they be. For example, a receptionist should not be in the same training circle as an employee in service since a receptionist has different duties that involve looking up clients instead of servicing business. Though the receptionist should have a general understanding of how the service works, it is not necessary for him or her to go through intensive training for a position other than his or her own.

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In addition to catering training based on separate departments of your company, there should always be a set date and time for training so that your employees can get on a regular schedule. Your company may even have a certificate program that lasts for six weeks, scheduling in 2-3 hours of training each week in different segments. According to an article published on InsuranceJournal.com:

“Make a plan for dates and times for training. Post where everyone can see. No vacation time during the training period should be scheduled. Someone in management that can answer specific questions about the standards and processes must be present in every session. Questions should never be left just hanging in the air,” (Alexander, Best Practices – Training & Implementation).

Furthermore, your staff should understand that training is a vital necessity of their job, and they should take it as serious as any other part of the workday.

Having a staff that is fully engaged during these important training sessions means that they are eager to learn more about their job, and in turn will boost company confidence. If any questions arise, your staff should be open about asking them – and higher-level managers and company executives should be prepared to answer anything that comes up. It is also imperative that if there is something that member of your staff do not understand during training, they let the trainer know so that they can leave the session with full clarity in what is being taught.

Remember, training employees should be taken very seriously, and your employees should know that there are consequences for non-compliance, as well as rewards for compliance.

Insurance Agency Best Practices

There are many steps to take when it comes to establishing your insurance agency as one that your customers would recommend. Being willing to make sacrifices along the way is just one element towards maintaining a well-liked, efficient, and effective insurance agency. Here are a few best practice tips to help your insurance agency gain recognition throughout your area:

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First, always focus on customer service and satisfaction. A great way to keep track of your agency’s customer satisfaction, besides calculating renewal rates, is to provide an informal survey that caters to your customers’ perceptions and includes suggestions to help improve your service. Always remember to go out of your way for customers, and try to go above and beyond their expectations.

Second, build a valuable staff with well-educated, personable employees that are not only great people for your customers to trust, but a pleasure to be around in the office environment. You should also provide training and tools your staff needs to do their jobs effectively with utmost efficiency. Incorporate leadership programs and reward employees when they are showing improvement and helping your agency meet its goals. Remember to celebrate and keep your workplace in a positivAmigo MGAe environment.

Third, be sure your agency has a clear mission statement that everyone who partakes in your company knows by heart. This statement should be the focus of your agency and customers should understand its meaning.

Fourth, your agency should be up-to-date with technology. Many companies are in a decline due not be able to adapt to current technological trends and improvements. Technology is a necessity for helping your agency grow, keep customer contact, and complete tasks efficiently.

Finally, always seek for continuous improvement. All companies should be seeking to improve at all times – a company cannot grow if it is not measuring its performance against its past performance (and that of competitors).