Although we should always be aware of distractions while driving, April is a time to take particular note since it’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. As noted in the SmartDrive SmartIQ® Beat for Trucking, distracted drivers are less safe overall and exhibit fundamental driving errors at a significantly higher rate than all other drivers. Collision drivers have higher distraction rates than non-collision drivers in all categories with drivers distracted by mobile devices at even more risk than those distracted by other means.
More than 40,000 people were killed on our roadways in 2017 and many of those deaths were due to distracted driving. From cell phones to dashboard infotainment systems to evolving voice command features – all pose a threat to our safety. Just one second of your attention – or your drivers – is all it takes to change a life forever. Why the increase?
Part of the increase is believed to stem from the improving economy, which has led Americans to drive more miles for both work and pleasure. But safety advocates say that explains only part of the trend because the number of deaths as a percentage of miles driven is also increasing.
They also point to data suggesting an increase in distracted driving. While cars and phones now offer advanced voice controls and other features intended to keep drivers’ eyes on the road, apps like Facebook, Google Maps, Snapchat and others have created new temptations that drivers and passengers find hard to resist.
Have your drivers follow these Top 9 Tips to eliminate distracted driving in your fleet. If you tackle distractions, you will improve your safety results.
- Focus: Fully focus on driving. Do not let anything divert your attention, actively scan the road, use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists
- Emergencies: While you’re driving, a cell phone should only be used for emergency purposes. Even then, it’s best to pull over safely to the right shoulder to make a call. Even hands-free devices can still cause you to miss important visual and audio cues needed to avoid a crash.
- Drowsy Driving: If you are drowsy, pull off the road. Drowsiness increases the risk of a crash by nearly 4x. A government study showed that 37% of U.S. drivers have nodded off or actually fallen asleep at least once during their driving careers. If you feel tired, get off the road; don’t try to get home faster.
- Multi-Tasking: Do your multi-tasking outside the truck. Everyone spends a lot of time in their vehicles, and it may seem like the perfect time to get little things done: calling friends, searching for good music, maybe even text messaging. Don’t do it. Focus on the road and the drivers around you. Get everything settled before you start driving.
- Storage: Store loose gear, possessions and other distractions that could roll around in the truck, so you do not feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat.
- Adjustments: Make adjustments before you begin your trip. Address vehicle systems like your GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.
- Dressing: Finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
- Snacking: Snack smart. If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. On the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
- Other Tasks: If another activity demands your attention, instead of trying to attempt it while driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place. Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the truck is stopped at an intersection, because potentially dangerous distractions can last longer than most drivers expect.
Help bring attention to distractions in your fleet by printing this Distracted Driving Infographic and posting it throughout your facilities. Help your drivers understand the risks and make your fleet safer. And, if you don’t already have a video-based safety system, consider installing one. It’s the only way to really know what’s going on in your vehicles – before distracted driving becomes a collision. By knowing that your driver has a habit of texting or talking on a cell phone, eating or drinking while driving, or engaging in other forms of distracted driving, you can bring it to his or her attention and coach on that specific behavior.
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SmartDrive Systems, the recipient of Frost & Sullivan’s Customer Value Leadership Award for Video Safety Solutions, gives fleets and drivers unprecedented driving performance insight and analysis, helping save fuel, expenses and lives. Its video analysis, predictive analytics and personalized performance program help fleets improve driving skills, lower operating costs and deliver significant ROI. With an easy-to-use managed service, fleets and drivers can access and self-manage driving performance anytime, anywhere. The company, which is ranked as one of the fastest growing companies by Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, has compiled the world’s largest storehouse of more than 210 million analyzed risky-driving events.