Whether it be a driver behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, someone making extra money through a ride-share application, an employee driving for work or a passenger car on the highway, there’s ever-present distractions that can impact any type of driver.
Fleet distracted driving is a serious issue that continues to grow despite combative efforts put in places by law enforcement and companies alike. Understanding not only the present state of distracted driving but also the need to prevent distracted driving could save your company more than just money – and instead save lives.
Three categories of distractions
Not just limited to cell phone usage, fleet distracted driving spans even further on the behavioral spectrum than originally thought. Made up of three categories, distracted driving doesn’t just include texting but instead now encompasses:
- Visual distractions, or when you take your eyes off of the road
- Manual distractions, or when you take your hands off of the wheel
- Cognitive distractions, or when you take your mind off of driving
Reframing how you think of distracted driving presents is of the utmost importance in recognizing the behavior. Fleet distracted driving isn’t the most commonly thought of answering a text or phone call but can even be those jarring moments when zoning out behind the wheel.
The prevalence is so high, which begs the question – how serious is the issue of such a common problem like fleet distracted driving?
The rise of distracted driving
Taking over drunk driving as the largest cause of crashes in the United States, distracted driving is the perfect example of actions that aren’t necessarily against the law in some states, but create just as much risk as illegal actions.
In fact, distracted driving was reported in 2019 as a factor in almost nine percent of fatal behind the wheel crashes and accounted for roughly 20 percent of vehicular incident injuries (NHTSA). Such fatal trends aren’t meant to be ignored and require action from many parties, including states.
States are taking immense measures in order to combat the rise of distracted driving, specifically cell phone usage. A band of 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all in some way either banned texting or hands-on cellular use while driving.
The ability to rally behind such risk mitigation efforts is integral in showcasing the severity of distracted driving, as enforcement and driving laws typically vary state-by-state, leaving a lack of precedent put forth.
Who partakes in distracted driving
According to the CDC, those most at risk for distracted driving include young adults aged 20-29. Drivers in the age range of 15-19 were more likely to be distracted, though, than drivers 20 and older when evaluating fatal crashes.
Additionally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 88 percent of millennials engaged in at least one risky behavior while driving in the past 30 days. Such common behavior seems to have desensitized the general public.
Over 84 percent of drivers state that they recognize the dangers that come with cell phone distractions and find it unacceptable that driver’s text or email while driving. Despite these views, 36 percent of those same people cop to having read or sent a text or email while driving in the previous month (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety).
We know that distracted driving is a problem yet many of us don’t stop indulging in the dangerous behavior. Although there’s no laws that focus on how to prevent distracted driving, what are ways that we instead recommend you can do just that?
Our top 4 distracted driving prevention tips
Stop relying on a self-reporting policy
Self-reporting is part of the many well-natured safety initiatives companies implement, as they place their trust in those who work for them in the hopes of two-way transparency and honesty. The unfortunate reality is that many will be less than willing to share if they’ve incurred a negative driving violation, especially if good driving behavior is integral in maintaining employment.
Know you need more than just in-vehicle telematics to understand driver risk
Did you know that you could be missing out on driver data specifically surrounding distracted driving by only using in-vehicle telematics?
Telematics is only a piece of the puzzle you need to evaluate driver risk and mitigate fleet distracted driving. Having insight into certain violations your drivers receive can help you detect and address distracted driving, but you won’t get that information from telematics alone.
Many times, the consequences of fleet distracted driving result in minimal behind the wheel incidents that aren’t seen on a typical motor vehicle report. Tools such as driver monitoring allow you to track those unreported incidents with ease, so you have the most comprehensive view of what’s occurring behind the wheel, and where to correct.
Don’t drive drowsy
Consider the dangers of driving while sleepy. Fatigued driving is more common than drunk driving and has been responsible for a large number of crashes over the years, with a CDC-estimated 6,000 deaths caused as a result of lack of sleep.
Getting more sleep is the only answer to avoid driving drowsy and subsequently distracted driving. Ensure employees are empowered to pull off at rest stops if needed, drive no more than two hours without a break and establish drowsy driving policies in writing.
After all, there’s no destination or deadline worth risking anyone’s life.
Correct behavior with training
Those who drive for your company are human, and as a result, may make momentary bad decisions – even the best of drivers fall victim to impulse. Digital training courses targeted at addressing distracted driving can help you turn negative driving behavior into learnings that result in better drivers and higher retainment.
Distracted driving is preventable
Safe drivers are integral in maintaining order on the roadways. The drivers that take responsibility when behind the wheel, avoid distracted driving and follow all legalities on the invisible contract signed when getting on the roadways in turn keep all around us safer.
We need more safe drivers on the road. With the emergence of technology and a more connected world, it’s not just drinks before getting behind the wheel that are putting those you share the road with at risk.
Understand that safe drivers are responsible drivers, not just for themselves but for the safety of all who occupy and share the roads. Utilizing those safe drivers for good can be done by companies like yours when evaluating how to prevent fleet distracted driving.
To learn why distracted driving is a preventable problem, further distracted driving prevention tips and how your company can help fight and reduce such behind the wheel behavior, download our white paper.