Meet the Risk Institute team during ‘Fan Fest’

Come meet the Risk Institute team and mingle with 20,000 or so of your closest friends during the “Fan Fest” held before the Ohio State-Cincinnati game, September 7, 2019.

We’ll be in a tent between St. John Arena and Ohio Stadium the morning before the game, 9 a.m – noon, where we will be highlighting research into safe driving.

Joining us will be Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, senior research associate in the Cognition and Affect in Decision Making (CAIDe) Lab for the Department of Psychology. She is also a member of the Distracted Driving Task Force, a collaborative initiative begun in 2017 spearheaded by the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The task force leans on expertise from a variety of resources, including law enforcement, insurance companies and educators. Its purpose is to give recommendations on how to curb distracted driving.

Earlier this year, as part of this state-wide initiative, the Risk Institute hosted Gov. Mike DeWine, WBNS anchor Dom Tiberi, university researchers and insurance experts to discuss the latest research and technology aimed at curbing distracted driving. “Our phrasing is putting the brakes on distracted driving,” said Phil Renaud, executive director of the Risk Institute.

Renaud said the effort to reduce distracted driving must include solutions that go beyond new laws. He said behavior, technology and urban planning and design are needed to reduce accidents and save lives.

Fans are also encouraged to take a look at a immersive driving game created by Driving Essentials XE, which is part of a complete training curriculum that teaches teen drivers to learn and refine critical skills essential to safe driving.

Ohio State institute highlights efforts to stop distracted driving

Every day in the U.S., approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Risk Institute at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business is working to bring those numbers down.

Last week, the Risk Institute hosted Gov. Mike DeWine, WBNS anchor Dom Tiberi, university researchers and insurance experts to discuss the latest research and technology aimed at curbing distracted driving.

“Our phrasing is putting the brakes on distracted driving,” said Phil Renaud, executive director of the Risk Institute.

The Risk Institute is a collaboration of companies and researchers that work to understand and develop effective risk management strategies. The institute helps organizations understand and manage risk from legal, operational, strategic and financial perspectives, among others.

Renaud said the effort to reduce distracted driving must include solutions that go beyond new laws. He said behavior, technology and urban planning and design are needed to reduce accidents and save lives.

DeWine agreed. He said he views highway safety as one of his top priorities as governor.

“If you look at the essential function of government, certainly at the core, it’s protecting people and protecting our families,” he said.

DeWine said he will be releasing a final report from the Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force soon. The Ohio departments of Transportation and Public Safety formed the task force last year. Ohio State researchers and the Risk Institute joined law enforcement, highway safety officials, auto insurers and others working to develop recommendations for the task force.

“When you look at distracted driving, we have to change people’s attitudes,” DeWine said.

Tiberi delivered the most emotional message on the subject. In 2013, his daughter was killed when the car she was driving crashed into the back of a semi-truck at high speed.

Tiberi and his wife started a foundation that supports organizations that encourages defensive driving and educates about the dangers of distracted driving.

“The bottom line, folks, is we have an epidemic. Not only in Ohio but in the United States, and it’s claiming our youngest and our brightest,” Tiberi said.

Motao Zhu, associate professor in the College of Public Health, Zhenhua Chen, assistant professor in City and Regional Planning at the Knowlton School of Architecture, and Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, a research associate in the university’s CAIDe (Cognition and Affect in Decision-Making) lab, discussed the scientific challenges behind distracted driving.

Shoots-Reinhard said a study conducted by CAIDe found that 66.5 percent of drivers used their phones while their car was in motion at least some of the time. The researchers used the findings to develop more effective advertising to curb the behavior.

“We want to give them easy, positively framed messages,” she said.

Shoots-Reinhard said the messages have to offer not only memorable and emotional messages but also simple alternatives to avoid distractions. That includes reinforcing use of the “do not disturb” function on cell phones.

Industry experts featured new technologies that allow drivers and insurance companies to better track safe driving habits. In addition, community leaders from ODOT, Hilliard and Franklin County discussed the increased use of roundabouts to cut down on serious crashes.

This article originally appeared on Ohio State News.

Ohio State Researchers Find Road Design Changes Can Reduce Distracted Driving Crashes

Columbus, Ohio (Nov. 19, 2018) – While efforts to combat distracted driving have primarily focused on passing new laws and changing driver behaviors, a new study from The Ohio State University’s Risk Institute reveals the important impact that modifying road design can have on reducing the frequency and severity of distracted driving crashes.

Researchers Zhenhua Chen and Youngbin Lym, assistant professor and his PhD student, in city and regional planning at The Ohio State University, found a 35 percent increase in distracted driver fatalities in Ohio and a 23 percent increase in serious injuries for the period 2003-2013. Additionally, distracted driving crashes were more severe in some road environments, such as work zones where they were up to two times more likely to be fatal.

This research found that urbanized areas such as Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati had much higher risk in vehicle crashes than other regions in Ohio. Even the length of a roadway segment or number of lanes had an impact on the frequency of distracted driving crashes. On the other hand, roundabouts had a significant effect on reducing the severity of distracted driving-related crashes. Other road environments that have a median or a shoulder with an asphalt pavement were also found to have fewer distracted driving crashes.

“This study helps to highlight that there is a need to improve traffic safety and road management,” said Phil Renaud, executive director of The Risk Institute at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. “It provides new evidence that supports taking steps to improve traffic signs and safety regulations for distracted driving in specific areas. There are things we can do on a local, city level to lower crash frequencies and severities.”

Key findings also include:

  • Distracted driving-related crashes account for approximately 18 percent of overall Ohio crash fatalities and 16 percent of Ohio serious injuries.
  • Distracted driving-related crashes are up to 49 percent more severe when they occur on a highway system.
  • The risk of vehicle crashes due to distracted driving is found to be highest in the Columbus area.
  • Distracted driving crashes are 5-10 times more likely to be fatal than severe in a rear end and or angle crash.
  • Roundabouts were found to be the single most effective road design in reducing the rate of crashes and crash severity. Overall, within the data (2013-2017) there were no fatal crashes within roundabouts.

The increase in distracted driving-related crashes in Ohio has become a major concern to various stakeholders, including insurance companies, transportation planners and policymakers. To help address this problem, which is so costly in terms of lives, medical bills, car repairs and insurance costs, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) funded The Risk Institute’s study and is working to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

“Those of us in the insurance industry hear far too many stories of how families are devastated because someone was texting behind the wheel,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president for PCI. “This research confirms some of the trends we have seen in auto insurance claims. Congested, urban roadways, infrastructure challenges along with the ubiquitous use of electronic devices combine to create hazardous driving conditions. As we have seen with other motor safety issues such as seatbelt use and drunk driving, there is no single answer to addressing the problem of distracted driving. It takes a coordinated strategy combining the enactment of laws, strong enforcement, drivers taking personal responsibility to avoid distractions and improvements in transportation infrastructure design.”

About the Risk Institute

The Risk Institute at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business is a collection of forward-thinking companies and academics that provide effective risk management strategies to not only protect firms, but position firms to create growth and value. The Risk Institute helps members consider risk from all perspectives: legal, operational, strategic, reputational, talent, financial and many more. The Risk Institute operates at a unique intersection between faculty, students and professionals from a broad cross-section of industries. With a leading-edge approach to risk management, The Risk Institute creates a unique exchange for risk-centered conversations, ideas and strategies that can’t happen anywhere else.

About PCI
PCI promotes and protects the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers. PCI is composed of approximately 1,000 member companies and 340 insurance groups, representing the broadest cross section of home, auto, and business insurers of any national trade association. PCI members represent all sizes, structures, and regions, which protect families, communities, and businesses in the U.S. and across the globe. PCI members write $245 billion in annual premium, which is 38 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance marketplace.

What researchers are doing to tackle distracted driving

February 22, 2018 marked one year since The Risk Institute embarked on a nationwide initiative to predict and curb distracted driving behaviors.

To celebrate our achievements over the last year and to reinvigorate our efforts, we hosted about 100 members of the initiative for an anniversary event. 10TV wrote a great piece about the work we’ve been doing.

We welcomed Fletcher Cleaves, a former collegiate athlete who is now paralyzed from the mid-chest down after a distracted driving crash several years ago; Maria’s Message, who is providing the awareness and reach for the initiative as we work together to create a research-based driver’s education curriculum; and students from Olentangy High School who we worked with to do some innovative research into driver habits and training.

If you want to get involved with the distracted driving initiative at The Risk Institute, reach out to us at

Is our word choice causing more car wrecks?

It’s a car crash, not an accident. That’s the message coming from behavioral researchers partnered with The Risk Institute Distracted Driving Initiative at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, who recommend that people need to stop using the word “accident” when comes to distracted driving crashes, as well as several other behavioral recommendations.

“One of the keys to curbing distracted driving fatalities and crashes is to change behavior and attitudes towards driving while distracted,” said Stacey Emert, partner at InAlign Partners and lead of the initiative’s behavior team. “One of the most effective methods is called social norming. This is essentially the collective thought about a behavior. Over the last 50 years, we’ve successfully flipped the collective thought on smoking, drunk driving, and child safety seats. We need to flip the collective mindset on distracted driving. We do this in part by changing the language we use: distracted driving accidents become crashes. You wouldn’t call a plane crash a plane accident.”

The Distracted Driving Initiative at The Risk Institute at is a nationwide endeavor comprised of dozens of companies, government entities, and researchers seeking to combine key partnerships, critical research, and leading-edge technology to predict and curb distracted driving behaviors.

“Unfortunately, people make choices that harm their ability to drive, like driving drunk, and so many traffic deaths could’ve been prevented if people stayed off the roads when drunk,” says Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, a psychology researcher at The Ohio State University. “In the 1980s, people were resistant to laws against drinking and driving, but now, we don’t drive drunk or let our friends drive drunk, either.”

The number of fatal traffic accidents rose 7.2 percent nationally in 2015 according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. It is the greatest year-over-year increase since 1966. Distracted driving was a factor in about 10 percent of auto deaths; the exact percentage is difficult to determine due to privacy rules and other factors.

“We can change the norms about distracted driving, too. These crashes are entirely preventable; at Ohio State, we’re working together to figure out how to help people not drive distracted”,” said Shoots-Reinhard.

The Risk Institute at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business brings together practitioners and researchers to engage in risk-centered conversations and to exchange ideas and strategies on integrated risk management. Through the collaboration of faculty, students and risk management professionals, The Risk Institute addresses risk at a broad cross section of industries and is dedicated to developing leading-edge approaches to risk management.

The Distracted Driving Initiative at the Risk Institute began in February 2017. Industry partners involved with the project are Honda Inc., Aon Benfield, Nationwide, NiSource, Ford, Motorists Insurance, DHL, State Auto, Freer Logic, TrueNorth, and others. Representing the legal and governmental branches are the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Ohio-based Root Insurance, Smart Drive, Greenroad, and eDriving Fleet make up the technology voices in the conversation. A dozen researchers and thought leaders from OSU representing behavioral science, engineering, automotive research, risk and others make up the research arm of the initiative.