According to research from the U.S. Department of Transportation, deaths increased by 10.4% in the first six months of 2016. That follows a 7.2% surge in 2015 after decades of declining deaths in the United States. Auto insurance officials are arguing that smartphone applications are the leading cause of distracted driving and are contributing to the significant spike in traffic fatalities. Insurance companies are also seeing larger amounts of auto collisions in urban areas where traffic congestion is a leading problem and decreasing numbers of insurance claims in situations where traffic congestion is less of an issue. Half a million driver trips recently involved in a study identified that when traffic slowed down as a result of congestion many drivers picked up their smartphones to use applications or to text. A company that sells anti-distracted driving technology has analyzed that the ten most popular applications used by people in the car include:

  • Facebook
  • Pokémon Go
  • Google Maps
  • Android Messaging
  • Netflix
  • Waze
  • YouTube
  • Pandora
  • Amazon Music
  • Google Chrome

In urban areas the traffic slows down tremendously and more than half of the drivers involved in that study immediately reach for their cellphones. This can be a dangerous situation. There are other factors, however, that are assisting with the increase in collision rates; individuals are driving more miles than previously due to the fact that gas prices have dropped and the economy has improved. However, these national trends don’t drill down into the local differences. Insurance companies believe that the primary cause of increasing accident frequency in these urban areas has to do with distracted driving behavior.