Lesson for Nigerians as smartphone use by US drivers raises insurance claims

by | December 6, 2017 12:15 am

The advent of mobile telephony in Nigeria and hazards of wrong use particularly among private and commercial drivers have been a source of worry to road safety experts.

Experts have consistently warned drivers to stop use of smartphones when driving as this is a major cause of road accident these days.

At the ember-month road safety awareness campaign organised by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Lagos in partnership with Cornerstone Insurance Plc, expert identified causes of road accidents including making calls when driving.    

According to report released by Swiss Re, a global reinsurance giant with interest in Nigeria, underwriting results in US motor, in both the personal and commercial segments, have deteriorated in the last couple of years, and insurers have increased rates to catch up with rising claims costs.

The surge in loss costs has been due to higher frequency and severity of accidents. Between 2014 and 2016, after decades of decline, US traffic fatalities surged by 14 percent.

Reasons for the surge include stronger employment growth and low gas prices, people have been driving more;  There has also been an uptick in speeding and drinking, but these factors alone do not explain the surge in road deaths.

Arguably, a main contributing factor is distracted driving, given a substantial increase in smartphone use by US drivers while at wheel.

In a study of 3 million people, Zendrive, a San Francisco start-up which analyses smartphone data, found drivers use their mobile phone during 88 percent of trips.3 The negative impact gets compounded by changes in the use of phones on the road. Texting, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — all activities that require additional attention away from the road – are replacing voice calls.

There has been a notable increase in loss frequency for trucking accidents in the US, which is related to a shortage of experienced drivers. The return of economic growth after recession created demand for drivers, which has been satisfied by the hiring of drivers with less experience. Heavier trucks, higher road density, higher speeds and distracted driving has contributed to the spike in loss severity. Further, victims in truck accidents are often injured much more severely than in car accidents, and this is leading to increasingly larger jury verdicts in bodily injury cases.

Modestus  Anaesoronye