Travelers Finds Over 70 Percent of Minneapolis-Area Drivers Surveyed Use Phones Behind the Wheel

February 21, 2019

Travelers Institute hosts event to address the distracted-driving epidemic in partnership with local victims’ families; premieres “Unfinished Stories” video

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), will host a symposium, “Disrupting Distraction,” today at the University of Minnesota. Part of the company’s Every Second Mattersdistracted-driving education series, this session will explore the latest trends and research around distracted driving and promising approaches to tackling this important public health problem.

Travelers recently commissioned a survey of 503 Minneapolis-area drivers and found that 71 percent use a mobile device while driving, with 84 percent of millennials, 72 percent of Gen Xers and 62 percent of baby boomers engaging in this behavior.

The survey also identified how drivers in the region are using mobile devices while behind the wheel, which included:

  • Reading texts or emails (56 percent).
  • Typing texts or emails (44 percent).
  • Updating or checking social media accounts, such as Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter (24 percent).
  • Shopping online (19 percent).

“It’s alarming to see how pervasive the distracted-driving problem is in our society,” said Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute and Executive Vice President of Public Policy at Travelers. “Nearly 10 percent of our survey respondents said they had hit a pedestrian, cyclist or another vehicle, and 17 percent said they had a ‘near miss’ because they were distracted behind the wheel.”

Today’s event — co-hosted by the Travelers Institute, the Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation, the Distraction-Free for Life Club, Just Drive, the University of Minnesota College of Science & Engineering, the University of Minnesota HumanFIRST Laboratory, the Minnesota Safety Council, the Insurance Federation of Minnesota and Gamma Iota Sigma’s Beta Pi Chapter — will begin at 11:30 a.m. CT and feature a panel discussion moderated by Woodward and presentations from speakers, including:

  • Michael Klein, Executive Vice President and President, Personal Insurance, Travelers.
  • Al Johnson, Vice President, Corporate Environment, Health & Safety, Cargill Inc.
  • Colonel Matt Langer, Chief, Minnesota State Patrol.
  • Dr. Nichole Morris, Director, HumanFIRST Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Research Scholar, Center for Transportation Studies; Adjunct Professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Minnesota.

During the event, Travelers will premiere the second video in its “Unfinished Stories” series, which honors victims of distracted driving by imagining what might have been if the crash never occurred. The video debuting at today’s event tells the story of Shreya Dixit from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and the previously released video tells the story of Phillip LaVallee from Monticello, Minnesota. The Dixit and LaVallee families will be attending today’s event, and the victims’ fathers, Vijay Dixit and Gregory LaVallee, will deliver the opening presentation. To see the latest video and other distracted driving content, visit

“Too many people believe they can drive safely while distracted and that they won’t be the one to be involved in a crash, but that one moment with your eyes off the road can be all it takes,” said Dixit.

“Until we change the casual attitude toward distracted driving and attach a stigma to it as was done with drunk driving, more stories will go unfinished,” said LaVallee.

Visit the Travelers Institute website to see the schedule of upcoming events and learn more about these initiatives.

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

Stephanie Arpin, 860.277.8876

Source: The Travelers Companies, Inc.