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Distracted driving figures drop in Q4 2009, says index

Posted On Wed, February 3, 2010

Perhaps driven somewhat by recent initiatives designed to discourage the use of handheld devices behind the wheel, a new survey has found that driver distraction actually declined at the end of 2009.

According to SmartDrive's Distracted Driving Index released on Wednesday, the overall distraction rate decreased by 2.1 percentage points to hit 15.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared with the previous quarter's figures.

The overall decline in the number of driver-initiated accidents that took their attention was seen almost across the board in terms of declining usages of distracting devices. Handheld mobile phone usage while behind the wheel decreased 36 percent between Q3 and Q4 2009 while hands-free phone usage declined by 22 percent. Distractions caused by food also dropped by 30 percent, while map or in-hand navigation disruptions fell by 85 percent.

"The Distracted Driving Index is a valuable tool in understanding the causes and trends regarding commercial driving distraction," said Jason Palmer, Chief Product Officer for SmartDrive Systems. "We support the DOT's new texting ban, and are pleased that active SmartDrive customers continue to significantly outperform the overall index with respect to safe driving."

The index figures were compiled by data taken from drivers during their first two weeks in the SmartDrive Safety Program, which tracks what distracts drivers the most while they are on the road. A decline in distracted driving would likely also result in fewer accidents on the road, which would likely lead to lower auto insurance premiums for many.


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