American Property Casualty Insurance Association
  • Staff Contact: Brooke Kelley     
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  • August 30, 2018
  • Focus on the Road – Not the Phone – This Labor Day Weekend
  • Traffic Fatalities are Up: More than 400 people die each year over the holiday weekend

    CHICAGO — With vehicle crashes and fatalities rising sharply across the country, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is urging drivers to be especially mindful of auto safety and avoid distracted driving this Labor Day weekend. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, Labor Day is one of the deadliest holiday weekends, averaging 423 traffic fatalities each year between 2012 and 2016.

    “During the Labor Day holiday, millions of travelers take to the roads. Traffic congestion along with risky behaviors could create a deadly combination causing a rise in the number of crashes and even fatalities. The combination of traffic congestion and risky driving behaviors such as distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving could cause in a spike in the number of crashes and fatalities,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president of personal lines policy at PCI. “Every time we get in the car, we see people texting or talking on their cell phones behind the wheel. Increasingly, drivers are also posting on social media, scrolling through playlists, live streaming video, and watching television shows instead of giving their full attention to the road. Distracted drivers pose a risk to themselves, their passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and everyone on the road.”

    Risky driving behaviors result in more crashes. In 2016, NHTSA data showed 39 states with an increase in fatalities. As the number of crashes increase, so have the costs associated with those crashes. Newer cars are equipped with advanced computers, which are more expensive to repair. Additionally, medical care and litigation costs associated with crashes are also skyrocketing.

    “While safety is always the first concern, these trends can impact consumers’ pocketbooks by putting upward pressure on insurance costs,” said Passmore. “Finishing our phone calls, sending our texts, and setting our music and maps before putting the car in drive are some of the simplest and most effective actions we all can take to prevent crashes. Addressing driver behavior can save lives and reduce costs for everyone.”

    PCI’s Top 5 Safe Driving Tips:

    1. Avoid distracted driving. Don’t talk, text, or use apps while driving. Put the phone down and just drive. Try to limit other distractions, such as eating or fiddling with controls, and be aware that having more passengers in the car multiplies the opportunity for distraction. Secure pets in the back of the car.
    2. Wear your seatbelt. Whether you’re traveling to see friends or family or just running errands, buckle up and drive safely. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
    3. Give yourself plenty of time. Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads over the Labor Day holiday, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for auto crashes increases. Plan routes in advance when traveling to new destinations and be patient.
    4. Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Deadly consequences can result from alcohol or drug-impaired driving.
    5. Pay attention to your speed. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and be aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Enforcement penalties are often increased for texting while driving in construction zones.
  • PCI promotes and protects the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers. PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write $220 billion in annual premium, 37 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance. Member companies write 44 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 30 percent of the homeowners market, 35 percent of the commercial property and liability market and 37 percent of the private workers compensation market.
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