Don’t forget distracted driving risks on Social Media Day!!

Today has been announced as Social Media Day – and in South Africa it is also “RICA Day” – or the last day to have cellular phones registered in line with the prescribed law.

What is Social Media Day?

“Today is the second annual Social Media Day, a global event organised by Internet news site Mashable. The event includes 1 400 meet-ups, with 7 000 attendees scheduled on six continents. Mashable says the purpose of the day is to acknowledge and celebrate the way in which media has become more social – and to do so by doing exactly that.”[ITWeb]

From an insurance perspective it is important not only to celebrate the advanced in access to social media and technology –but also to keep in mind that these advances should not destroy lives in the process as well!

Earlier this week it was revealed in a media release via Reuters that smartphone apps are distracting young drivers, with more than a third of college students at a US university saying they use them while behind the wheel.

We would like to share some of these findings:

“New research from the University of Alabama (UAB) shows that even drivers who have reported previous accidents involving mobile phone applications can’t resist using them while driving.

“It’s astounding, scary. Very little of this is urgent business. It’s socializing and entertainment,” said David Schwebel, the director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab who supervised the study.

“What really stood out was the number of participants who verbally reported understanding that using mobile Internet while driving was dangerous, but continued to do it,” said Lauren McCartney, who worked on the study which will be presented at the American Psychological Association in Washington.

Socializing by phone seemed to be more important for some college students than safety behind the wheel.

“They seem pretty interested in keeping up with what everyone’s doing on an hourly basis even,” McCartney added.

Ten percent of students admitted they often or nearly alwayS use mobile apps while driving. More than one-third use them sometimes.

Schwebel, whose findings are part of a larger study on the impact of apps on pedestrian safety, warned that distracted driving will only get worse as mobile gadgets get smarter and become even more popular.

“Driving is difficult. It takes substantial cognitive effort, visual perception. You need to be seeing the world around you,” he explained.

McCartney believes banning smartphone use while driving would help to solve the problem.

Thirty three US states ban text messaging while driving but no state bans the specific use of apps, according to the researchers. “ [Reuters]

In South Africa several unique road conditions such as the presence of potholes, the absence of fences and even the dangerous road behaviour of other road users place an even more important focus on the need to remain vigilant and un -distracted at all times!!

Many road accidents and car insurance claims are the result of distracted driving – and insurers should all contribute to raising greater awareness of these dangers!

We would like to urge drivers to also view:

Texting and Distracted Driving

Avoiding Distractions While Driving

Texting while driving hurting the car insurance industry

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