Episode 555 03.27.18

Episode 555 03.27.18

Phil Renaud, executive director for The Risk Institute at Ohio State University, joined Peggy Smedley to talk about the epidemic that is plaguing this country: distracted driving. He talked about what needs to be done and the behavioral change that is necessary when it comes to cellphones and driving. They discuss the root cause of distracted driving today and what is coming in the month ahead.

 

To hear this interview on The Peggy Smedley Show in its entirety, click here.

Smedley:
What is The Risk Institute and what are you doing to try to keep our roads safe by focusing on distracted driving?

Renaud:
The Risk Institute focuses on the wider engagement of enterprise risk management; and distracted driving is but one of conversations that we’re having and looking at is how we can improve safety, and improve the overall safety and health of our population. Just look around, and you see the number of daily events of people with heads down as they’re driving on the highway focusing on things other than driving.

Smedley:
It’s an epidemic.

Renaud:
It is.

Smedley:
I can’t help but look at the people, and I want to stare them down, I mean, that’s why I’m terrible. I’m always the passenger. I’m not the driver, and I want to stare people down and go, “Put your phone down.”

Renaud:
Exactly.

Smedley:
But people look at me like I’m crazy, but they do it all the time, it’s so prevalent that people have the phones.

Renaud:
It is.

Smedley:
Even though it’s against the law, it just doesn’t resonate with people.

Renaud:
It doesn’t. And I think people … there’s a couple different things. We’ve looked at distracted driving now for the better part of a year. In fact, we just came on our anniversary meeting a couple of weeks ago, and we focused on distracted driving from four pillars. One, legislative; two, behavior; three, use of technology and working towards solving it; and the fourth area is urban planning and development. So how roads are going to be built in the future using more roundabouts and different planning’s so that we’re creating illusions of narrowing roads, etcetera, but we think that this is a behavioral challenge for us for the most part.

Our research is showing that people believe that they’re good drivers. Everyone’s a great driver, and therefore for me to look down at the phone it’s okay because I’m a good driver. Nothing’s going to happen to me.

Smedley:
And that mindset is a fascination. People think that that four seconds that they’re looking down they don’t understand is a length of a football field and is enough to kill everybody around them.

Renaud:
Yeah.

Smedley:
That whole urban planning behavior part of the discussion is intriguing to me right now because when we talk about autonomous driving, I’m really kind of curious what would find with that?

Renaud:
First of all, start with what focused us on this topic. There was some research that I came about. Research that we did not do, but research that was intriguing to me that started this whole conversation. They ask three basic questions. One, do you speed regularly 10 miles over the speed limit? Have you run a red light? And three, have you texted while using your phone? So three very basic questions. They looked at a strata of drivers from 16 to 80, okay. 100% being really bad and 1% being really good. As we looked at the different strata’s of age, what we found out is that the best were at 70-75%, meaning 75 being yes to all three of those questions. The worst group was a group between 19 and 24, where over 90% of that group answered yes to those three particular questions.

So that kind of focused our attention, that’s our college aged students. Those are the students that we work with every day of the week. Interestingly enough the 16 to 18 year category had one of the best scores. Best being 70-71%. Not very good, but still better than the 19 to 24 category. So, it’s shockingly high.

Smedley:
Is it just because maybe they were more honest than the other people?

Renaud:
No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think what we’re seeing, and other studies are showing, our studies included, is that drivers are getting their licenses older. So, I know when I was learning to drive, I couldn’t wait at 15 1/2 to get a permit so I’d be driving at 16. Now we’re finding that young drivers … it’s not unusual to see first time drivers at 19 or 20-years-old.

Smedley:
Yes. That’s true. I agree.

Renaud:
So, I think that’s conditioned.

Smedley:
So, when you see that, what is that telling us though? Are they telling us because they’re getting their license later they’re just bad drivers, or they still have really bad behaviors?

Renaud:
No. I think they have behaviors because—if you think of that age group—they’re brought up with a cellphone. I mean, the cellphone, it’s been around longer, but the iPhone or that smartphone technology really started around 2007, didn’t it? So, it’s been 11-years-old.

Smedley:
But I thought we’ve seen from their parents, they’re telling the parents not to do it. That idea is still not resonating to put the phone down, don’t drive. Like a seat belt, it’s still not working? They just don’t see? Put it down, put it away. They gotta have it. They’re so brought up with it, it’s an extension of their body?

Renaud:
It’s an extension of their body, and I think when we look at the research that is just being completed now, we look at really five basic conditions here. The first is underestimating the risk of distracted driving, okay? They’re saying because they’re so used to using the phones, it’s very familiar to them that they were underestimating that particular risk, okay? The second is they’re not understanding the cause and consequence of distracted driving.

Smedley:
That isn’t enough for them to get that? A major accident?

Renaud:
I mean, they tend to judge this risk as low, and the benefit of using the phone is high. Then, I think what we call motivated denial of the risk of distracted driving. So, they’re kind of motivated to deny that what they do is risky because the emotional desire, and that justification of the behavior is saying, “It’s okay. I’m a good driver. It isn’t going to happen to me. It’s someone else’s problem. Not my problem.” The overconfidence in their driving abilities as we said earlier.

And the final point, which I think is probably the most harmful is this failure to avoid temptation to use the device. It’s addictive, isn’t it? We see that … ping, that event coming across the phone that I have to touch it. I have to see who’s sending me a text. Who’s calling me? It’s very hard to put that down.

Now, there’s technology out there that will assist us, but it’s interrupting, in many respects our freedom, or what we perceive as our freedom.

By | 2018-04-19T15:39:20+00:00 4/19/2018|

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