N.Y. Approves Esurance Program Aimed at Preventing Teen Texting and Driving

December 18, 2013

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced it has approved Esurance’s new telematics program designed to help prevent teens from texting while driving.

This new voluntary program, called “DriveSafe,” allows Esurance policyholders to install a device, free of charge, in their cars. The initiative, which was reviewed and approved by the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), lets parents choose to create customized “block lists” that can stop specific cell phone activities when the car is in motion.

Under the program, Esurance policyholders may install an in-car device into their teen’s car that — in conjunction with an Esurance smartphone app installed on their teen driver’s phone — can limit the use of text, email, application usage, and phone calls while driving (with the exception of 911).

Esurance, part of Allstate Corp., is providing the DriveSafe device free of charge to policyholders with teen drivers 15-19 years of age who are listed on the policy. Policyholders can obtain more information about the program — including vehicle and phone compatibility — by contacting Esurance.

The device can also monitor driving behavior, including speeding, hard braking, fast acceleration, and other activities. Parents can log onto an Esurance web portal to customize the device and review their teens’ driving habits.

“It’s encouraging to see programs that give parents new tools to help stop their sons and daughters from texting while driving,” said Gov. Cuomo. “A combination of inattention and inexperience has far too often produced tragic results for teenage drivers. That’s why my Administration will continue to do everything it can to discourage distracted driving and help parents better protect their children on the highways.”

New York State’s Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said, “I applaud Esurance for using innovative technology to discourage texting while driving, which could help prevent accidents and save lives. That’s a step toward keeping not only teen drivers, but everyone else, safer on the roads.”

“We encourage other insurers to consider using this type of technology — known as ‘telematics’ — to help reduce distracted driving and hold down premiums over the long term,” Lawsky said.

“We are pleased that Governor Cuomo, Superintendent Lawsky, and the State of New York have approved our teen driver safety program,” said Esurance President and CEO Gary Tolman. “Esurance DriveSafe can empower parents with smart, innovative technology to help their teens become safer, more responsible drivers,” Tolman said.

Gov. Cuomo’s administration has worked to increase awareness among drivers about the dangers of texting-while-driving. Statistics show that texting and using a cellphone while driving is a growing trend, whereas alcohol-related driving has declined.

From 2005 to 2011, there has been an approximately 143 percent increase in cell phone-related crashes in New York State. In that same time period, there has been an approximately 18 percent decrease in alcohol-related crashes in New York State.

In 2011, there were 25,165 fatal and personal injury crashes involving distracted driving in New York, compared to 4,628 caused by alcohol-related driving.

In New York State, the number of tickets issued for texting-while-driving (30,166) approached the number of DWI/DWAI arrests (43,954) in 2012. In fact, between 2011 and 2012, there was a 234 percent increase in the number of tickets issued for texting while driving. In the same time period, there was a 4 percent decrease in the number of DWI/DWAI arrests.

Source: New York State Department of Financial Services

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