Reducing Distracted Driving- Philadelphia Insurance Companies

Defend Your Organization from the Perils of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving continues to plague the highways, causing more injuries and deaths every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving killed 3,522 people in 2021, representing 8.2% of all traffic fatalities and a 12% increase in deaths caused by distracted driving compared to 2020. While cell phone use, specifically texting, talking, and social media use, continues to be the most common distraction, they point out other dangerous actions that take precious seconds away from reacting to changing traffic conditions include adjusting the radio or GPS, applying makeup, and eating and drinking.

The cost to organizations that have fleet operations can be devastating. These costs are not just lives lost, healthcare, and vehicle repairs, but also millions in insurance costs.

Organizational leaders need to recommit to ensuring their drivers operate vehicles safely and free of distractions. This can begin with a review of policies and procedures around safe and distracted driving. The following can help facilitate that review.

Learn the facts

There are three types of distractions:

  • Manual - Tasks that require removing one or both hands from the wheel
  • Visual - Tasks that require the driver to look away from the road
  • Cognitive - Tasks that take attention and thoughts away from driving

Cell phone use tends to be the most discussed driving distraction, not only because of its prevalence, but also because it often combines two or even all three types. Sending or receiving a text can take your hand off the steering wheel, your eyes off the road, and your brain's focus away from driving. According to the NHSTA, taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds at 55 mph is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Hands-free cell phone use had been thought to make using a phone while driving safer, but in reality, it can be just as distracting. Research has shown that true multitasking is a myth because the brain does not complete multiple tasks at the same time. It instead switches quickly between tasks, leaving room for an information bottleneck as the brain is trying to process various pieces of competing information, such as identifying upcoming traffic controls versus comprehending what is being said on the phone and thinking of how to respond. This then leads to "inattentional blindness," causing the driver not to perceive something in front of them, such as a changing traffic light or a child chasing a ball into the road, greatly reducing reaction time.

The NSC recommends organizations adopt policies that ban all cell phone use when operating a vehicle for the organization.

Take personal responsibility

Safe driving is everyone's responsibility. That includes examining personal driving habits and eliminating all distractions, including eating, grooming, or dealing with non-driving functions, while behind the wheel. Drivers should program navigation systems and other electronic systems, finish eating and drinking, and have the vehicle already set for the drive, before even pulling out of the parking spot.

While technology seems to be the problem, it can also provide solutions. Many smartphones, including Apple devices, have an automatic setting that disables delivering texts and other notifications while the device is connected to the vehicle. In addition, there are a variety of cell phone blocking apps that can be used to curb being distracted by a phone behind the wheel.

Advocate for change in your workplace

Regardless of your role, everyone can take steps to positively affect how your organization addresses distracted driving. The following are some best practices to consider:

  • Create and enforce a written policy for cell phone use while driving and include a signed "pledge"
  • Train employees on local cell phone use laws in addition to the organization's safe driving requirements
  • Use cell phone apps to limit usage while driving
  • Apply cell phone use policies whether employees are in their own vehicles or company owned vehicles while driving for business purposes
  • Consider using telematics technologies, such as PHLY's PHLYTRAC, a telematics solution that is available to all vehicle fleets insured by PHLY. These programs can provide insights into driver behavior, including alerts for hard braking, which can be an indication of distracted driving

Online Distracted Driver Training

PHLY offers an online distracted driver training course to help educate people about being safer behind the wheel. Watch the video below for an overview.

This training is available to all PHLY customers through MyPHLY. Follow these steps to access the training:

1. Log in or create an account on
2. On the left navigation, click "Training" under "Risk Management Services"
3. Under "MyPHLY Hosted Trainings" click on "Distracted Driver Training"

For additional training modules at no charge, PHLY policyholders can sign up for the SmarterNow learning management system.

If you need assistance, please contact the PHLY Risk Management Services Department.

Additional Resources:

Distracted Driving - National Safety Council (
Distracted Driving Dangers and Statistics | NHTSA
Distracted Driving | Motor Vehicle Safety | CDC Injury Center
Learn the Facts About Distracted Driving (
Distracted Driving at Work | NIOSH | CDC

Additional Safe Driving Blogs:

Left Turn Safety- Philadelphia Insurance Companies (
Road Safety with Motorcycles- Philadelphia Insurance Companies (
Vehicle Telematics: Improving Driver Behavior- Philadelphia Insurance Companies (
PHLYTRAC Vehicle Telematics: An Insured's Perspective- Philadelphia Insurance Companies
PHLYTRAC Vehicle Telematics: An Agent's Perspective- Philadelphia Insurance Companies
PHLYTRAC Telematics At Work- Philadelphia Insurance Companies

IMPORTANT NOTICE - The information and suggestions presented by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company are for your consideration in your loss prevention efforts. They are not intended to be complete or definitive in identifying all hazards associated with your business, preventing workplace accidents, or complying with any safety related, or other, laws or regulations. You are encouraged to alter them to fit the specific hazards of your business and to have your legal counsel review all of your plans and company policies.

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