Driver distracted by cell phone in car Driver distracted by cell phone in car

Help prevent distracted driving

We can all help reduce distracted driving and its impacts on lives and businesses

Authored by:

John O’Grady, Corporate Safety Services Specialist, Sentry Insurance
Steven Bojan, Director of Transportation Safety Services, Sentry Insurance

Distracted driving takes the lives of 9 people in the United States, on average, every day—and injures about 800 more, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Further numbers from the NHTSA show 11% of all police-reported vehicle traffic crashes in 2022, the latest year available, were reported as “distraction-affected.”

These numbers make clear it’s time each of us commits to staying focused while driving—and holding others accountable for doing so to help keep our roads safe. That’s because behind all those numbers are people affected by tragedy at a moment of distraction.

People such as Tom Goeltz, who spoke at a panel discussion we hosted in April 2024 for Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Tom’s daughter Megan was killed in 2016 when a man suspected of distracted driving ran broadside into her; he later pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving. Since then, Tom has tirelessly spread the word against distracted driving. You can hear his story on our distracted driving page.

We’re committed to helping the companies we insure and the communities we live in build a culture of safe driving. We’re advocating for technologies, laws, and other strategies to combat distracted driving.

Building a safe driving culture

As professionals in the business insurance industry, we provide coverage to transportation companies and many organizations with fleets of all types. We work closely with our customers, who often are eager to learn more about how to ensure their drivers are navigating the road safely. We’ve learned, along with our customers, that to create an effective safe driving program: 

  • Everyone must follow safety protocols. That includes refraining from calling employees when they’re on the road.
  • There needs to be an enforcement mechanism that holds everyone accountable to drive distraction-free.
  • The consequences of failing to do so must be the same for everyone, including management.

How technology can reduce distracted driving

According to NHTSA data, drivers were using phones in 12% of distraction-affected fatal crashes. But the right technology can help ensure drivers play it safe.

For example, more than 1 in 4 of our trucking customers now use dashcams that identify safety sensitive incidents and at-risk behaviors before a crash occurs. They get a premium discount for sharing their vehicle safety performance data with us. This incentivizes companies and their drivers to create safer habits that lead to fewer crashes—and less litigation.

Legislating hands on the wheel

We’re among those advocating for legislation that would reduce distracted driving. Tom Goeltz successfully advocated for a hands-free phone law in Minnesota, where his daughter Megan died. As of this writing, 34 states have such laws. Some go even further, banning phone use entirely—even hands-free—by young drivers, who data show tend to interact with their phones more often.

Establishing hands-free laws in every state is a good first step. But eliminating distracted driving comes down to all of us committing to keep our eyes—and mind—on the road, and our hands on the wheel, when we’re operating a motor vehicle.

A simple first step in holding yourself accountable can be signing the National Safety Council’s pledge to avoid distracted driving.

At Sentry, we have resources that you can share with friends, colleagues, and employees to bring home the message of avoiding distracted driving. You can discover more on our distracted driving page. Together, we can reduce distracted driving, and the toll it takes.

For more information, please contact:

Carolyn Schamberger
Mobile: 715-315-9929

Rick LaFrombois 
Mobile: 715-581-9396

Avery Faehling
Mobile: 715-697-4590

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