Recent research by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) cited an increase in the frequency and severity of workers’ compensation claims for motor vehicle accidents, which can be tied to the rise of smartphone usage on the road.
"Continued advances in workplace safety have helped drive a long-term decline in Workers’ Compensation claim frequency. Troubling, however, is that claims resulting from injuries and deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents have been on the rise," said Bill Donnell, president and CEO of NCCI. "This rise in motor vehicle accident claims coincides with the increasing popularity and use of smartphones, which points to distracted driving as a key contributing factor. It's time for all stakeholders to better understand and work together to address this important societal issue."
In fact, Workers’ Comp claims involving motor vehicle accidents have been on the rise over the last five years, according to the research, with serious injuries taking a toll on the injured workers, their families and employers. NCCI actuaries, using detailed policy information from NCCI's Statistical Plan database, found that, despite the overall frequency decline in Workers’ Compensation claims, the frequency of claims for vehicular accidents increased from 2011 to 2016 (the most recent year for which data is available). Additionally, NCCI determined that an astonishing 41% of fatal Workers’ Comp claims were the result of a vehicular accident.
Notably, over the same period that vehicular accidents increased, there has been a rapid expansion of cell phone ownership (particularly the smartphone), which may be a contributing factor for the rise in these types of claims. According to the National Safety Council's Cell Phone Policy Kit, a minimum of 27% of crashes involve drivers talking and texting on their phones. However, that report also states that driver cell phone use is likely highly underreported and, therefore, substantially underestimated.
The increase in motor vehicle accidents is not only by employees on the job. NCCI found a similar pattern in the general population of the United States, with vehicular accidents generally increasing over the same time period, along with a troubling increase in the number of traffic accident fatalities.
It’s important for employers to manage their driving exposure and include driver safety policies and procedures in their safety manual – even those employers who do not have a fleet of vehicles. This includes having procedures for driver selection, driver training, vehicle maintenance, and other important information. By better managing its driving exposure, an employer can reduce the odds of incurring Workers' Compensation claims involving motor vehicle crashes.
RPS offers Workers’ Compensation insurance solutions designed to fit your insured’s risk profile. For more information about our products, please give us a call.