Smartphones have transformed daily life. Work, school, and leisure activities have gone digital, and now people expect to stay connected around the clock – no matter where they are or what they’re doing. Always-on connectivity has enhanced daily life in many ways, but it has also injected ever-present distraction into our routines, including driving. Whether it’s texting, talking, playing music, or using a navigation app, smartphone use while driving is one of the most prevalent causes of distracted driving. While distracted driving is a bad habit no matter your age, it’s especially dangerous for inexperienced, young drivers.
Distracted Driving by the Numbers
Injuries and fatalities related to distracted driving have become so much of a problem that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks related data. These are some of the more shocking statistics:
- In 2018, approximately 400,000 people were injured by distracted drivers in the United States.
- That same year, more than 2,800 died as a result of distracted driver-related crashes.
- Roughly 20 percent of those killed by distracted drivers weren’t in the vehicle – they were bicyclists, pedestrians, and similar.
- Drivers in their 20s are at the greatest risk of death. This age group makes up more than 25 percent of fatalities attributed to distracted driving.
- Out of all teens killed in motor vehicle crashes, nine percent were related to distracted driving.
A separate study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute offers insight into the impact of texting and driving. Specifically, sending one text message requires drivers to look away from the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, five seconds is long enough to travel the length of a football field. That brief distraction increases the risk of a crash by 23 times.
The good news is that since 2015, distracted driving deaths have started to trend down. That’s due in part to the passage of state regulations addressing the issue. To date, the District of Columbia and all but two states have restricted the use of handheld phones while driving. In the District of Columbia and 37 states, younger drivers – the ones at higher risk – must comply with enhanced safety requirements.
Driver Safety Monitoring – The Next-Generation of Digital Family Safety
State legislation is a great start to reducing injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving, but that’s not the only reason the roads are getting a little safer. Car manufacturers, telematics software companies, and insurance providers are also focused on bringing to market technology that addresses this problem. Thanks to white-label software solutions like SafePath® Drive, wireless carriers can enter into this lucrative and growing market as well. By solely utilizing the sensors embedded in all smartphones, SafePath Drive provides:
- Driver behavior monitoring and detailed reporting on dangerous driving behavior such as risky phone use, speeding, excessive acceleration, and hard turns/braking.
- Collision detection paired with instant notifications in the event of a crash.
- Personalized driver scores and coaching to help promote safer driving habits and limit distracted driving.
As we discussed in a previous blog post, providing driver safety monitoring is a logical extension of any carrier’s digital family safety strategy. Just as parents of young children and tweens worry about inappropriate digital content and excessive screen time, parents of teenagers worry about the safety of their teen drivers. And this anxiety is not misplaced. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 24-year-olds.
The Advantage of Smartphone-based Driver Safety Monitoring
As the primary provider of smartphones and mobile connectivity, wireless carriers are uniquely positioned to provide driver safety services to their subscribers. Bundling this functionality with other family safety features such as location tracking and parental controls will provide digital-first parents with a powerful parenting tool they can use to protect their children from adolescence to young adulthood.
It’s no secret. Teens take their smartphones everywhere they go. This is one of the main differentiators of a smartphone-based driver safety solution such as SafePath Drive. It doesn’t matter what car a teen is driving in or riding in. As long as they have their smartphone with them, parents will have visibility into their safety while they are in a car. As a customizable, white-label solution, SafePath Drive makes it easy for wireless carriers to capitalize on this unique opportunity. Contact us to learn more.