Erie Insurance Survey Results Provide Tips for Passengers to Speak Up When Their Drivers are Distracted
As Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer road trip season, a recent national survey commissioned by Erie Insurance has shed light on a compelling solution to tackle the dangerous issue of texting while driving. The survey reveals that passengers have the power to make a significant impact by simply speaking up and asking the driver to stop. However, despite the potential for positive change, a significant percentage of passengers choose not to intervene. In an interview with Raychel Adiutori, senior marketing communications specialist at Erie Insurance, and Stan Kolek, PhD., a visiting assistant professor at Allegheny College, we delve into the survey findings and discuss effective strategies to address this dangerous behavior.
Passengers Have Power
The survey revealed that passengers have the power to make a substantial impact on reducing texting while driving simply by speaking up. Out of the respondents, 20% of Americans reported being asked by a passenger to stop texting while driving. Among them, 10% continued the behavior regardless, while 47% temporarily ceased texting but resumed when the passenger was absent. Encouragingly, 43% of drivers who were asked to stop texting did so permanently, highlighting the positive influence passengers can have on driver behavior.
The survey also uncovered reasons why passengers choose not to intervene when witnessing a driver texting. The top factors contributing to their silence were the belief that it is not their place to tell the driver what to do (37%) and their own engagement in texting while driving (over 20%). Other reasons included the fear of starting an argument, discomfort in speaking up, indifference toward the behavior, and not wanting to offend the driver.
Stan Kolek, PhD. provides insights into four different approaches for passengers to address texting while driving:
Negotiation: This approach involves acknowledging the situation and proposing an alternative. Passengers can suggest taking over the driving duties temporarily, assuring the driver that they can handle texting once they reach their destination. Negotiation seeks to present a non-confrontational solution.
Positive Reinforcement: Informing drivers about reward programs, such as Erie Insurance’s YourTurn, can motivate them to put down their phones. By emphasizing the benefits of safe driving, including potential rewards or reduced insurance rates, passengers can encourage drivers to adopt responsible behavior.
Partnership and Mutual Accountability: Creating a buddy system approach, where both the passenger and driver agree to avoid texting while driving and hold each other accountable, can reinforce positive habits. This approach is effective when there are mutually beneficial rewards at stake, such as maintaining favorable insurance rates for both parties.
Negative Consequences: As a last resort, passengers can communicate the negative consequence of social isolation within a group. Expressing discomfort and a refusal to ride with a texting driver conveys the message that their behavior is unacceptable and may result in losing companionship.
Kolek emphasizes that the effectiveness of these approaches depends on the nature of the relationship between the driver and passenger. The negotiation and positive reinforcement methods work best when there is a level of trust and a strong relationship. Negative consequences, such as social isolation, can be powerful motivators but carry the risk of straining relationships. It is essential to communicate constructively and avoid potential resentment or adverse outcomes.
Adiutori accentuates the importance of society collectively viewing texting while driving as socially unacceptable. Initiatives like Erie Insurance’s survey aim to spark conversations about distracted driving and encourage passengers to speak up. Sharing real stories and consequences can create a stronger social norm against this dangerous behavior. However, it is important to recognize that not all individuals may be receptive to such campaigns, highlighting the need for multifaceted approaches.
The survey commissioned by Erie Insurance underscores the influential role passengers can play in reducing texting while driving. By actively speaking up and employing effective strategies such as negotiation, positive reinforcement, partnership and mutual accountability, and, as a last resort, negative consequences, passengers can save lives and promote safer driving habits. Together, let’s harness the power of passengers to create a world where texting while driving becomes a thing of the past.