How Risky is Distracted Driving?

How Risky is Distracted Driving?

By Reginald Allison II

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Dr. Lars Powell, director of the Alabama Center for Insurance Information & Research (ACIIR), and Dr. Boyi Zhuang, an associate research professional at the ACIIR, presented on the riskiness of distracted driving at the 2022 Risk Theory Society Seminar on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Baylor University.  

There is substantial and perhaps surprising disagreement among public policymakers, researchers, and citizens about the danger of distracted driving. Drs. Powell and Zhuang and their co-authors attempt to address this lack of consensus in the academic literature by analyzing data on fatal crashes.  

Their analysis suggests that distracted drivers are three times more likely to cause a fatal crash than focused drivers and that distracted drivers represent three to four percent of drivers on the road at any given time. Additionally, the societal cost (externality) of distracted driving is between $.03 and $.07 per mile. The insurance surcharge for a distracted driving citation that could internalize the avoidable insurance losses is approximately $424 per year. These findings extend the literature on distracted driving and traffic fatalities, and can help inform policymakers on the traffic safety and economic consequences of distracted driving.

Click here to view their paper co-authored by Florida State University associate professors Dr. Bradley Karl and Dr. Charles M. Nyce. 

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