Drivers are too distracted by modern technology

Distracted driving is against the law, yet it doesn’t have the same stigma attached to it as drunk driving, for example. For many drivers today, making use of technical functions or devices that have nothing to do with driving the vehicle is common practice. What’s more, such devices are becoming more complex and more readily available with every passing day. Mobile phones and on-board computers are good examples.

"Using a smartphone while driving has become a normal part of daily life. At the same time, the number of potential distractions in today's vehicles is on the increase," says Lucie Bakker, claims director at Allianz Versicherungs-AG. "While many drivers are aware of the danger, they don’t transfer this insight to their everyday driving. This is what lies at the heart of the problem, and it can be fatal. Distracted driving must not become a habit!"

More and more people are reading and writing text messages behind the wheel. "The new Allianz study shows that the proportion of drivers who pick up their smartphone to read or send a text increased by almost two-thirds between 2016 and 2022, from 15 to 24 percent," says Christoph Lauterwasser, head of the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT). "This development is worrying and dangerous. Anyone who texts while driving increases their risk of an accident by more than 50 percent."
In 2016, only one-third of all drivers had a vehicle with a central display for operating communication, entertainment and comfort functions (on-board computer). In the meantime, the proportion has risen to almost 50 percent. Around half of respondents in the Allianz study confirmed that they are distracted by operating the on-board computer. The accident risk increases by 44 percent. Some functions are particularly risky; for example, those who misuse an assisted driver function such as the lane assist system to free their hands from the steering wheel for longer periods of time have a 56 percent higher chance of having an accident. If the car radio is operated via the on-board computer, the risk almost doubles (89 percent). 
We are also witnessing a comparable increase in risk for other technological distractions. In particular, when people make use of functions or apps that go beyond texting, phone calls or navigation. "Cell phones or other hand-held electronic devices are increasingly being used for playing games, selecting music, looking at pictures, surfing the web or other purposes. In our 2016 survey, only six percent admitted to performing such activities while driving; by 2022, one in five (22 percent) confessed to this," says Lauterwasser.
In 2021, the category "distraction" was integrated into police accident reporting for the first time. We are now seeing the significance of this move in the official German data. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 8233 people were injured in accidents in which distraction played a role in 2021, and 117 died, which is just under five percent of all fatalities (2562). "However, the official data collection takes a very defensive approach; only those cases in which driver attention is clearly averted from traffic are recorded, and the nonspecific phrase “distracted” isn’t used at all. High standards of evidence are required at the scene of the accident, so the number of unreported cases is also very high. Nevertheless, it has been confirmed for the first time in Germany that distraction is the most underestimated cause of accidents on our roads," says Jörg Kubitzki, safety researcher at the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT) and author of the Allianz study. The accident figures for the first ten months of 2022 are also a cause for concern. For example, the number of all distracted driving accidents resulting in personal injury rose by a quarter (23.5 percent) compared with the same period last year. 
Young drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are particularly at risk of distracted driving; 30 percent of drivers in this age group say they use their smartphone while driving (compare to all drivers where the figure is 16 percent). Four in ten say they send or read electronic messages with a cell phone in their hand - an increase by a factor of 2.5 between 2016 and 2022.
The majority of drivers are still skeptical about electronic driver monitoring, which aims to detect the state of awareness of the driver. For example, only 39 percent of respondents approve of a camera or infrared scanning of the eyes, face or head, in which the technology can detect distraction while the driver remains anonymous. "There is still a case to be made for driver monitoring," says Christoph Lauterwasser. "It shouldn’t be about control and restrictions, but about support. The latest vehicle and traffic technologies make it possible to warn drivers when they are distracted. This feedback alone can contribute to a positive change in behavior. We should make use of these developments to make road traffic safer for all of us."

The complete study "Distraction and modern technology" by Dr. Jörg Kubitzki as well as images and additional information is available electronically. The report is based on a representative survey of 1202 car drivers in Germany, conducted by Allianz Center for Technology (AZT) in partnership with the Gesellschaft für Innovative Marktforschung mbH (GIM). 

The complete study "Distraction and modern technology" by Dr. Jörg Kubitzki as well as images and additional information will gladly be provided electronically and will be available on the website of the Allianz Center for Technology (Allianz Zentrum für Technik). The report is based on a representative survey of 1202 car drivers in Germany, conducted by Allianz Center for Technology (AZT) in partnership with the Gesellschaft für Innovative Marktforschung mbH (GIM).

The full text of the study (in German language only) and the associated press release can also be found in the download area of the Allianz Center for Technology website.

The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with around 125 million* private and corporate customers in nearly 70 countries. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 737 billion euros** on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage about 1.7 trillion euros** of third-party assets. Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, we are among the leaders in the insurance industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2023, over 157,000 employees achieved total business volume of 161.7 billion euros and an operating profit of 14.7 billion euros for the group.
* Including non-consolidated entities with Allianz customers.
** As of December 31, 2023.

Press contacts

Christian Weishuber
Allianz Deutschland AG
Florian Kitzmann
Allianz Center for Technology
As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements:
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