Travelers Institute and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Team Up to Raise Awareness of Distracted Driving Risks

April 27, 2018

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), today will co-host a symposium with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston to explore new approaches to reducing distracted driving-related crashes.

A growing body of research shows the dangers of distracted driving. According to data published this month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 10 percent of fatal crashes in 2016 involved distracted drivers — resulting in an average of more than nine fatalities per day.

Drivers continue to use electronic devices behind the wheel despite widespread recognition of the danger it creates. In the 2018 Travelers Risk Index, 85 percent of people surveyed said it is extremely risky to use smartphones or tablets while driving, yet 40 percent of all respondents said they talk on the phone or look at their GPS device while driving. Further, only 12 percent of respondents use safety features such as “auto-reply” and “do not disturb” to avoid distractions.

“Distracted driving puts drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians needlessly at risk every day,” said Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute and Executive Vice President of Public Policy at Travelers. “We look forward to advancing the important conversation about how we can all work together to positively change driving behavior and help create safer roadways.”

Harvard Chan’s Center for Health Communication, which previously spearheaded the U.S. Designated Driver campaign to mitigate alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities, is currently developing a national media initiative to change social norms around distracted driving. The symposium will contribute to the campaign’s development.

“In contrast to drunk driving, there is no social stigma associated with distracted driving,” said Dr. Jay Winsten, Associate Dean for Health Communication and the Harvard Center’s Founding Director. “We are working to test new ideas to promote the social unacceptability of driving while distracted.”

In addition to raising awareness, the symposium will examine new insights derived from a growing understanding of the science of the distracted brain, as well as potential tactics to change driving behavior. The keynote speaker, Dr. Bryan Reimer, a research scientist at the MIT AgeLab and the Associate Director for the New England University Transportation Center, will discuss the changing dynamics of driver distraction. The event will also feature a panel discussion moderated by Woodward, who will be joined by Reimer, Winsten and Rafi Finegold, Vice President, Product & Experience, TrueMotion.

The event will be held in collaboration with the National Safety Council, the Road to Zero Coalition and MassBike, as part of the Travelers Institute’s Every Second Matters℠ symposium series.

Visit the Travelers Institute website for more information about the event and the company’s Every Second Matters campaign.

About the Travelers Risk Index

Hart Research conducted a national online survey of 1,000 consumers, ages 18 to 69, in March 2018. The survey was commissioned by Travelers.

About the Travelers Institute

The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc., engages in discussion and analysis of public policy topics of importance to the insurance marketplace and to the financial services industry more broadly. The Travelers Institute draws upon the industry expertise of Travelers’ senior management, as well as the technical expertise of many of Travelers’ underwriters, risk managers and other experts to provide information, analysis and solutions to public policymakers and regulators. Travelers is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. For more information, visit

The Travelers Companies, Inc.
Judy Senechal, 860-277-2366

Source: The Travelers Companies, Inc.