One auto insurer reports that there are fewer accidents with skid marks.
Where are we going? To the GDP.
Where Smartphones Bite Back
Looking at the numbers, you would see more distracted drivers, more accidents and more expensive insurance premiums. According to insurance companies, the distractions are increasingly coming from our smartphones.
In one 2015 survey, 36% of the participants said they texted when driving. Other studies indicate that 20% of all drivers take pictures and 10% recorded videos. Predictably, for those of us aged 18-29, the stats are higher.
We all thought that new cars made us safer. However, combine cheaper gas, extra cars on the road and more driving with smartphones and you have an accident waiting to happen. In 2015 deadly accidents were up 7.2%.
The lines on all of these Wall Street Journal graphs are heading upward:
We are driving more:
The number of vehicle crashes is up:
Auto insurance bills are rising:
More of us own smartphones:
Our Bottom Line: Economic Growth
To see how a GDP can grow, we could start with technology. Our innovations create new industries that spawn jobs and lead to still newer goods and services. With smartphones, the productive ripple has been unending.
But also there has been bite back. Defined as innovation’s unintended consequences, technology’s bite back is a negative externality.
So yes, we have all the benefits of smart phones. But also, traffic fatalities, auto accidents and the cost of insurance premiums are rising. And ironically, many of those accidents actually boost the GDP through the extra medical care, repaired vehicles and new cars that we buy.
Returning to where we began, the absence of those skid marks is one clue that our smartphones are the culprits.
My sources and more: In an overview and an article on auto accidents, WSJ recently looked at bite back. But if you have much more time, Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences is an excellent book.