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30
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04
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2021

Raising Distracted Driving Awareness

For your life, the one of your passengers and others on the road, put down your phone and read on
Sandra Albers
Product Manager
Benedetta Cerruti
Scoring & Analytics Expert at Swiss Re

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Over the past few years, both technological progress and social developments towards constant connectivity have impacted the most common causes of accidents on our roads today. As this year's Distracted Driving Awareness Month has come to an end, we have compiled some of the most critical points and want to draw the attention to one of the biggest risks in road traffic these days: distraction whilst driving! There are many different reasons that a driver could become distracted, from absent-mindedness and daydreaming to unexpected events outside the vehicle, such as animals running onto the road – and of course, there are smartphones. With our telematics app Coloride, we want to make this risk more understandable for the driver and their insurer, whilst furthering the efforts to eliminate it. Have we caught your interest? Then keep reading.

The most common distractions whilst driving

As mentioned above, there are several causes that can disturb a driver on the road. The biggest type is cognitive distraction. This means that mental diversions, such as zoning out, daydreaming and even being stressed are the greatest threat when it comes to road accidents. Insufficient sleep and stressful working days prevent the driver from focusing on the traffic and their surroundings.

The second biggest cause is the use of a smartphone. We are all aware of the dangers that simple distracting actions, such as replying to messages whilst driving, present and our moral obligations on the road – and yet so many people are still struggling to stay off their smartphones during car journeys.

What about spotting something outside the vehicle, such as a road accident or the surrounding landscape? Looking out of the side window for even a few seconds may prevent you from noticing the vehicle in front braking. If a vehicle does not have automatic emergency braking, these are valuable seconds that take away from your reaction time.  

Have you ever thought about how distracting conversations with passengers can be? This applies to both normal conversations as well as, obviously, arguments – the main focus of the driver is no longer the road, but what is going on around them. Children arguing in the back seat or pets begging for attention are a few common examples that everyone is familiar with.  

Last but not least, searching for things inside your vehicle should not be underestimated. Who hasn’t realised they've left their water on the back seat or has needed to grab their wallet from their bag? Or even spotted what they're looking for in the passenger footwell and leaned down quickly to retrieve it?

Accidents caused by distractions are not without their legal consequences, however, often leading to serious penalties for disregarding the law.

Coloride

How we are making users aware of their driving habits

Technological advancement now makes it possible to study and identify risky behaviours by collecting data in a non-invasive and non-intrusive way.  

Swiss Re's telematics app, Coloride, aims to apply risk prevention to the field of motor insurance, by analysing driving behaviours and raising awareness about dangerous driving habits. This benefits drivers and their insurance companies, which can even customise the look and feel of the app according to their preferences or embed it in an existing app. Coloride helps drivers prevent risks by detecting bad driving habits like harsh manoeuvres and phone distractions, and by proactively encouraging the user to adopt an improved driving style. A weekly score, with a special focus on phone distractions, enables the user to monitor their improvements and compare their skills with other users. Dedicated post-drive coaching and incentive programmes are supported to engage every kind of driver.

How does our phone distraction algorithm work?

The detection of phone distractions is a fundamental part of our solution. It consolidates the events logged by the smartphones' operating system with events and features computed from the accelerometer's signals. The locking and unlocking of a phone, logged by the operating system, is used to determine possible start and end triggers of phone distractions. We then consider them in combination with phone-handling events computed from the accelerometer's signals. The two sources of information are used in order to detect phone usage whilst driving, e.g. reading notifications, texting and calling. Phone-handling events when the car is still are not penalised, as events corresponding to a very quick glance at the phone without unlocking. Unlocking the phone and interacting with it whilst driving is, however, a source of scoring penalisation, since it corresponds to a potentially dangerous distraction for both the driver and third parties.

What else can be done to avoid distracted driving

Now you know about Coloride and our support to help drivers stop using their smartphone whilst driving. But what can you do about other distractions? Here is a useful set of tips.

  1. Don't drive when you are tired or upset! Movement helps when you are tired. Get your circulation going and get some fresh air before you set off. If you just had an argument, take the time to calm down and don't get into the car whilst you are angry.
  1. Set up your satnav and put on any music or podcasts you want before driving. What's more, you should already have all the things you need whilst driving within easy reach. Place your water bottle in the practical vehicle holder and stow things like your handbag or loose items safely.
  1. As a passenger, you should be particularly considerate of your driver. Don't overly distract them with questions or discussions. Save any important conversations for when you get to your destination or, if it really can't wait, as the driver to pull over whilst you discuss things. But make sure it is an appropriate time and place to stop!  
  1. If you know your loved one is driving, although you are not with them, refrain from sending them messages during this time and do not encourage them to reply to your messages.

Conclusion

Distracted Driving Awareness Month should make us think more about our daily driving behaviour on the streets. There are dangers lurking everywhere that can mentally take us away from the road. With Coloride, we're trying to demonstrate how to avoid some of these and improve your driving. Want to see it live? Contact our experts and schedule a demo.

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