Palm Beach Post
Charles Elmore, April 12, 2017
Forget what people say. It’s what they really do behind the wheel that matters.
A study released today suggests 92 percent of U.S. drivers with cell phones have used them while moving in a car in the past 30 days and Florida gets the nation’s worst score for such use after Louisiana.
“It’s pretty insane,” said Ryan Ruffing, director of communications at EverQuote Inc., the company behind the research. “Most people consider themselves good drivers, but they are not aware of how often they are using their phones behind the wheel.”
An app called EverDrive collected data on more than 2.7 million vehicle trips and 230 million miles driven, according to the company. By sensing motion changes and other factors, the app assigns drivers a score on everything from phone use to use hard braking, speeding, risky acceleration and hard turns.
“I’m not surprised by the results of the study,” said state Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton. “We’re one of four states that don’t make texting while driving a primary offense.”
That means police don’t cite drivers for texting on cell phones unless they pull them over for something else like speeding.
Slosberg and others have sponsored legislation to beef up penalties, but it is not clear those measures will get through committees in time to pass before the session ends in early May.
The EverDrive technology does not count hands-free devices or incidental phone motion in a pocket or car seat, but aims rather to detect active phone use such as unlocking it while the vehicle is moving, Ruffing said. Use can include texting and talking.
EverDrive, a privately-held firm based in Cambridge, Mass. and founded in 2011, calls itself an online insurance marketplace in the U.S. matching drivers with insurance providers based on price and coverage needs. The company insists it does not share individual driver data with insurance companies without permission, according to Ruffing, but its goal is to encourage safer habits by making drivers more self-aware.