Arbella Announces Retirement of Successful Distractology Program

Anti-distracted driving program trained nearly 20,000 new drivers in New England over 11 years

QUINCY, Mass., December 15, 2020 
After 11 successful years, the Arbella Insurance Foundation is announcing the retirement of the Distractology program. Distractology was one of the first programs in the country to use simulated driving scenarios to educate young, inexperienced drivers about the dangers of driving while distracted. The program helped show a new generation how to be safer behind the wheel. Those who completed Distractology were proven to be 15 percent less likely to have an accident or receive a traffic violation.*

“Distractology's journey took the program to all corners of Massachusetts and other parts of New England in an effort to curb distracted driving behaviors before they became habits,” said Beverly Tangvik, president of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. “Our orange and blue trailer could be seen outside the Massachusetts State House, on national television programs, and was experienced firsthand by TV, sports personalities, and 20,000 student drivers.”

The program’s mobile classroom technology was the result of years of research by the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMASS). Driving simulations were based on real-world examples, prompting students to text and post to social media sites or change the radio while navigating residential and highway conditions. The simulators were designed by University researchers in collaboration with Arbella and Jack Morton Worldwide. The classroom trailer will spend its retirement back at UMASS where it will be used for research, outreach, and education. The Arbella Insurance Foundation is proud to continue to fund UMASS’s efforts for the next three years.

“More than ten years ago we began to see the impact of distracted driving among teens and were excited for the opportunity to partner with the Arbella Insurance Foundation on Distractology,” said Professor Sundar Krishnamurty, the head of the UMASS Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at UMass Amherst. “Now, as we continue our teen driver research, we are grateful to have the opportunity to bring the Distractology trailer back to the UMASS campus where it will serve as an important research tool in our continued efforts to understand distracted driving habits and to find ways to curb those habits.”

During Distractology’s 96-month campaign, 148 Arbella insurance agents partnered with Arbella’s Foundation to host the program at schools across Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, with 77 agencies hosting multiple times. The trailer traveled to 165 high schools, three colleges and universities, and 26 other locations, including vocational schools, community organizations, police and fire stations, shopping plazas, and driving schools.

“We started this program because we were seeing an increase in the number of distracted driving-related claims at Arbella,” said John Donohue, chairman, president, and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group and chairman of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. “The end of Distractology is by no means the end of Arbella’s commitment to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving. This program has helped to create a new generation of safe drivers and we look forward to finding new ways to stay engaged with other safe driving initiatives in the future.”

The Distractology campaign received tremendous media coverage over its 11-year run and was featured 1,500 times in more than 300 different local newspapers, television stations, and national publications, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Today Show, Boston 25 and NECN’s CEO Corner.


About the Arbella Insurance Group and the Arbella Insurance Foundation

Established in 1988, the Arbella Insurance Group ( is an A rated company by A.M. Best, with more than $800 million in revenue and approximately $1.8 billion in assets. Headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, Arbella is a customer-focused, regional property and casualty insurance company, providing commercial insurance products in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, and personal insurance products in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Arbella Insurance Group founded the Arbella Insurance Foundation in 2004. Recognized as one of the Boston Business Journal’s “Top Charitable Contributors” for 12 consecutive years, the mission of Arbella’s Foundation is to engage in activities and support not-for-profit organizations that have a significant positive impact on the people and communities served by Arbella.

The Arbella Insurance Group founded the Arbella Insurance Foundation in 2004. Recognized as one of the Boston Business Journal’s “Top Charitable Contributors” for twelve consecutive years, the mission of Arbella’s Foundation is to engage in activities and to support not-for-profit organizations that have a significant positive impact on the people and communities served by Arbella.

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*Results are based upon data obtained from Arbella Mutual Insurance Company’s youthful operators who completed Distractology training when compared to those who did not from 2010 through 2018. The study showed that drivers were 15 percent less likely to have an accident or violation.


For more information:

Christine Williamson

Greenough Communications