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When you rent a vehicle do you familiarize yourself with the controls, such as the lights andPreventing Distracted Driving
windshield wipers, while you’re driving? Do you ever eat a burger or have a cup of coffee while you’re behind the wheel? All of these behaviors can be distractions that force drivers to take their eyes off the road.

“Distraction isn’t just about texting,” said Pete Gulbrandsen, Vice President of National Auto at Travelers. “It’s really anything that distracts you; even just your brain wandering.” Gulbrandsen is one of several Travelers leaders taking part in the Travelers Institute® Every Second Matters℠ symposium series, which is raising awareness about distracted driving risks through events on college campuses across the United States and Canada.

“Being aware of your own distracted driving habits is important,” said Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute and Executive Vice President of Public Policy at Travelers. “Studies have shown that most people believe that distracted driving is not their problem; it’s the other person’s problem.”

Thirty-two percent of respondents to the 2018 Travelers Risk Index indicated that they were concerned about getting into a collision because of their own distracted driving, while 78 percent worried about getting into a crash due to someone else’s distracted driving.

Gulbrandsen said that after decades of declines in the frequency of motor vehicle collisions, the rate has increased in recent years. “The National Safety Council reported more than 40,000 U.S. traffic fatalities in 2017, even as we’re seeing more and more safety technology available on the road,” he said.

Michael Klein, Executive Vice President and President, Personal Insurance, and Head of Enterprise Business Intelligence & Analytics at Travelers, said Travelers launched the Every Second Matters initiative to encourage smart driving behaviors, to help keep the roads safe and auto insurance affordable for consumers and businesses.

“We’re visiting college campuses because vehicle collisions have a cost. Oftentimes that cost, the loss of life, the injuries and the damage to vehicles and properties, are preventable,” said Klein. “We’re trying to help find ways to prevent those crashes from happening in the first place.”

One of those ways is speaking up when a driver is using a mobile device, eating or engaged in another form of distraction, said Klein, pointing to a recent survey that found drivers are more likely to look at their phones while driving alone, than when they’re with family or friends.

“So I think there is something to the peer pressure and stigmatizing distracted driving,” said Klein, urging drivers to think about the safety of others when they’re on the road.

“Are you thinking about the family in the other car?” he asked. “That ought to be incentive for all of us to do the right thing. Pay attention and remember that every second matters."

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