Get the Facts on Distracted Driving: Common Causes and Solutions

Distracted driving is plaguing our fleets and fleet owners are looking for answers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted drivers on U.S. roads killed 3,166 people in 2017 alone. Due to the widespread use of smartphones, distracted driving has become an epidemic. In this blog post, we have compiled some distracted driving facts to encourage all drivers to eliminate risky behavior.

What’s considered distracted driving?

Distractions can come from many sources, above and beyond mobile phones. Any activity that takes your attention away from driving, even for a second, is considered distracted driving. To put things into perspective, if you do any of the following behind the wheel you are considered a distracted driver:

  • Eat or drink

  • Talk with people in your car or on the phone (even hands-free)

  • Text, scroll or search on your phone

  • Apply makeup

  • Play with the radio or navigation system

  • Smoke or vape

  • Reach for something on the floor

  • Look at maps or read directions

There are four types of distracted driving:

  1. Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel

  2. Visual: Taking your eyes off the road

  3. Cognitive/Mental: Thinking about something else while driving

  4. Auditory: Being distracted by noise from a ringing phone or conversation (mobile or in-person)

Let’s get down to a few statistics

The statistics associated with distracted driving are shocking, but apparently not shocking enough to convince drivers to put their phones down.

  • You are 4 times more likely to crash when using a cell phone while driving.

  • When you send or read a text, you take your eyes off the road for approximately 5 seconds.

  • The average speed in the U.S. is 55 mph (88.5 km/h), which means taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds is equivalent to driving with your eyes closed for the entire length of a football field.

  • According to the Government of Ontario, one person is injured in a distracted driving-related incident every half hour.

  • In Ontario, deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since 2000.

  • In the USA, during the day, 481,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices at any one time.

  • Each year, distracted driving is a factor in 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America, according to the RCMP.

Texting and driving

Texting and driving is incredibly dangerous, and yet so prevalent. A poll conducted by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) in November 2017 found that more than 80% of the country’s population believes texting and driving is more problematic than it was three years earlier, despite the increase in public education and regulations. With 96% of respondents claiming texting and driving is a threat to their safety on the road, the poll found that this concern is now tied with drunk driving as the top road safety concern amongst Canadians.

Employer liability

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an employer may be held legally accountable for the actions of a negligent employee if the employee is on duty at the time of a collision. This is called vicarious responsibility and employers are being held liable up to $25 millionfor employee crashes. Not to mention, the costs of these accidents alone are astounding. The average collision cost per vehicle annually is $4,000 to $8,000. These figures could devastate your bottom line as a business owner.

Distracted driving technology solutions

Some fleet owners have implemented their own distracted driving programs, however this depends upon driver compliance. Early programs have relied upon agreements and written policies to guard against the use of cell phones in the vehicle. Without question, technology can support companies in their effort to reduce distracted driving.

Cameras are an effective way of curbing distracted driving. Fleet managers can review in-cabin video footage and perform random audits to ensure their drivers are following procedure. These tactics, coupled with Geotab telematics, allow fleet managers to quickly alert drivers against the same event in the video to identify exactly what was happening at a specific moment.

Other tools incorporate automated driver coaching. Predictive Coach Add-In, for example, identifies poor driver behavior based on data from the Geotab GO device, then automatically assigns relevant training to the specific driver while documenting the corrective action for management. Predictive Coach monitors risky behavior such as speeding, hard braking, rapid acceleration and lack of seat belt use – all signs of distracted driving.

Another tool that helps drivers improve their driving habits is the D2Go Driver Challenge, which offers an exciting new way to engage, motivate and coach drivers. This solution turns driving into a friendly competition. Using gamification, D2Go scores drivers and compares them on selected key performance areas. Trends are tracked and analyzed to give both drivers and managers insight on who needs improvement, and who deserves recognition.

When your focus leaves the road, things happen quickly.

Distracted driving has devastating and irreversible consequences. While tools are available to improve the problem, nothing will make an impact unless drivers alter their mindset and eliminate risky behavior.

Drivers must pledge to end distracted driving and incorporate strategies into their daily lives to combat the issue. You cannot drive safely unless 100% of your attention is on driving.

How is your fleet combating distracted driving? Let us know.

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