Young drivers admit phones, food and navigation distract them from the road

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ingenie, an auto insurance brand targeted to young drivers, offers tips on how to stay safe in long weekend traffic

Toronto, ON (May 13, 2015) – It’s the first long weekend of summer. There is only one thing standing between Ontarians and a weekend by the lake: the long weekend traffic.

According to a survey on distracted driving commissioned by ingenie, an auto insurance brand designed for drivers aged 16 to 24, many young drivers in Ontario admit they don’t always give the road their full attention. The research revealed several ways drivers get distracted, from playing DJ for an excited group of passengers, to texting an update on their expected arrival time.

“Before young drivers pack up the car for the long weekend, it is important to address the behaviours that lead to distracted driving and look at ways to make safer choices,” says Lorie Phair, CEO of ingenie Canada. “It’s exciting for young drivers to have the freedom to drive their friends up to the cottage. Taking some precautions and giving their full attention to the road ensures everyone arrives safely.”

ingenie offers the following tips for the long weekend commute:

  • Create a playlist: 75% of young drivers say they can get distracted by changing the music in their car. “It’s easy to create the perfect soundtrack for your drive so you don’t have to fiddle with the console,” suggests Phair. “Take some time before you leave to add your current favourites to a playlist.”
  • Use your pit stops to stay in touch: 33% of drivers admit to reading their text messages or e-mails while driving and 21% admit to sending text messages or e-mails. “It’s a good idea to keep people up to date on your progress and arrival time, but only do so during breaks along the way, never while you are driving. It’s dangerous and it’s illegal,” says Phair. “No road trip is complete without stops for gas and snacks, so use those pit stops to stay in touch.”
  • Take a dinner break: 58% of young drivers admit they can get distracted by trying to eat in the car. “It doesn’t take that much time to sit down and finish your meal, especially when you consider the potential consequences of trying to multi-task at the wheel,” says Phair. “Rather than rushing to get to your destination, make the dinner break part of your long weekend adventure. Skip the service station fast food and find a small hidden gem along the route to sit down and enjoy a meal.”
  • Delegate some duties to passengers: The majority of young drivers (54%) use their phones for directions while they’re driving. “You’re better off enlisting your passengers to act as navigators so you can focus on the road,” says Phair.
  • Put your phone out of sight (and out of mind): Only one quarter (23%) of young drivers put their phone out of sight when driving. The majority (60%) say they keep it on the passenger’s seat or the cup holder. “It’s much easier to get distracted by your phone if you can see the alerts popping up,” says Phair. She recommends that drivers put their phones on silent and out of sight when driving. “If you want to use your phone for music, you can put it on airplane mode so other alerts don’t come through and distract you,” she adds.
  • Don’t risk fatigue: It’s estimated that about 20% of fatal collisions in Canada involve driver fatigue.* “Get a good night’s rest before you drive. That goes for the way up to the cottage and the return trip. Driving tired can be nearly as dangerous as driving drunk,” says Phair. “Taking regular rest stops also reduces the risk of dozing off at the wheel. Try to take them every two to three hours; a quick walk around will help you stay alert at the wheel.”

Two-thirds of young drivers surveyed said being involved in a crash would be the top deterrent to distracted driving.

“Obviously we want to help people develop safe driving habits before a collision occurs,” says Phair. “At ingenie, we have developed a very effective approach to encourage young people to drive safely. It’s not about deterrents like demerit points or fines; instead we give young drivers regular feedback on their performance and the opportunity to earn financial rewards for safer driving.”

Drivers who sign up with ingenie install a Smartbox, a small self-contained unit, which collects data on driving behaviour such as speed, acceleration, braking and cornering. After beginning to drive with the Smartbox, customers get feedback every ten days through an ingenie app on their smartphone or online. The feedback includes a driving score out of 100, tips on how they can improve and an update on how much they stand to save for their safe driving. Compared to traditional insurance models where drivers would have to wait until the end of the year to see a discount, young drivers with ingenie can earn their Good Driving Discount three times a year – up to 25% off over the year in total.

In the U.K. where ingenie has been available since 2011, the approach has reduced young drivers’ risk of having an accident during the first six-months of driving by 40%. Seventy per cent of ingenie’s U.K. drivers earn discounts for safe driving.

As Ontarians gear up for the first long weekend drive of the summer, follow the conversation about distracted driving online using the hashtag #DontDriveDistracted.

Long weekend journey 'survival tips'

According to a survey on distracted driving commissioned by ingenie, an auto insurance brand designed for drivers aged 16 to 24, many young drivers in Ontario admit they don’t always give the road their full attention. Before young drivers pack up the car for the long weekend, ingenie offers tips to ensure everyone arrives safely.

Driving Impaired by Fatigue

Source: “Road Safety in Canada,” Transport Canada.

It is estimated that about 20% of fatal collisions involve driver fatigue, calculated by eliminating other possible causes such as alcohol impairment, speeding, unsafe passing, etc. (CCMTA, 2010)

A 2007 survey found that about 60% of Canadian drivers admitted that they occasionally drove while fatigued and 15% of respondents admitted that they had fallen asleep while driving during the past year (Vanlaar et al., 2008). Some of the warning signs of fatigue are:

  • blinking or yawning frequently;
  • closing eyes for a moment or going out of focus;
  • having wandering or disconnected thoughts;
  • realizing that you have slowed down unintentionally;
  • braking too late;
  • not being able to remember driving the last few kilometers;
  • drifting over the centre line onto the other side of the road.

Everyone is subject to their body’s circadian rhythms such that they are less alert during certain times of the day, usually 2:00-4:00 a.m. and 2:00-4:00 p.m. Therefore, taking breaks from driving during these times could lower the risk of fatigue related collisions considerably.

To manage fatigue, drivers can consider doing the following:

  • sleep well prior to long road trips;
  • share the driving with other passengers;
  • take regular rest stops every couple of hours and do some exercise;
  • eat light meals or fruit throughout the journey and drink water;
  • if one feels tired during the trip, a nap of twenty to forty minutes is an effective way of reducing sleepiness.

Potential Future Measures to Prevent Fatigued Driving: More education is needed to raise awareness about the risk of driving while fatigued. Some jurisdictions have used Drowsy Driver Signs which have messages such as “Drowsy Driving Causes Crashes” or “Drowsy Drivers Next Exit 5 Kilometres.” These yellow signs were developed in order to remind drivers that drowsy driving is a very serious issue and also to inform them of possible exits where they can go to rest. There are also devices which detect driver fatigue by looking at eye lid closures, head nodding, lane deviations and warn the driver, but the validity of these devices has not yet been proven.

About ingenie

ingenie is an innovative young driver insurance brand that uses telematics technology to reward safe driving with savings. ingenie builds a picture of a driver’s individual style, awareness and safety on the road, rewarding those who drive well with up to an extra 25% Good Driving Discount and helping those who need improvement become safer.

ingenie was awarded the prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in 2013, in recognition of its work to help make young drivers safer on the road. Among a number of industry awards, ingenie has won best start-up at the 2014 British Insurance Awards and insurance innovation of the year at the Insurance Times Awards.

For more information, visit ingenie.com.

About the survey

Results are based on an online survey conducted for ingenie by Student Life Network between April 17th & April 21st, 2015. A total of 600 interviews were collected from Ontario students who are licensed drivers.

SOURCE: ingenie