In today’s age of mobile technology, distracted driving has surpassed drunk driving as the leading threat of accidents on the road. 5G technology, smart highways, and always evolving smartphones will only continue this trend. Sure, smartphone and car companies have taken some measures with Bluetooth and “Car Mode” features, but that still renders insufficient. In fact, engaging in a hands-free device while driving is 4 times more distracting than talking to an adult passenger. Also, as shown in that same report, it was shown that 56% of drivers use their phones while driving and 1 out of 3 people text while driving, which increases the risk of crashing by 23 times.
Distracted driving is a prevalent, complex problem with serious consequences. For the everyday driver, the stakes of distracted driving are already high, but for fleets, the stakes—and risk—are even higher.
Distracted Driving: What is it Exactly?
Distracted driving comes in many forms, with cell phones quickly emerging as one of the most prevalent and therefore most consequential. The most common forms of distracted driving include:
Being lost in thought/mind wandering
Cell phone usage
Eating or drinking
Adjusting a radio or navigation system
Reaching for something on the floor or back of vehicle
All these practices can cause the driver’s performance to be compromised. This can lead to swerving in and out of lanes, harsh braking, delayed reaction to lights, slowed driving, and more. While some of these listed practices seem less consequential and manageable, driving demands acute attention, and even small lapses in judgement—so little as tenths of a second—can cause accidents, injuries, and even death.
Impacts of Distracted Driving
For the everyday driver, the impacts of distracted driving are exceptionally high. Even though driving can appear as a mundane task to get from the house to work (with a brief stop for morning coffee), it can have life-altering consequences. Nearly six million reported car crashes occur in the United States each year, with approximately 10 million more going unreported. Roughly 1.3 million people die from car crashes every year and 2 million report serious injuries.
The staggering fact: 1.6 million accidents (~26.7%) involve cell phone usage and roughly 90% of accidents are driver related (error, impairment, or distraction).
There is no doubt how costly distracted driving can be to the general driver. Individual’s lives are at stake. And even for minor accidents, car damage, insurance rate increases, and other consequences all add up to a nightmare nobody wants to deal with. For fleets, however, not only are the consequences compounded, but likewise the likelihood of accidents are higher as well.
Truck driving is the most dangerous occupation in the United States, with 28.3 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time workers in 2018. Truck crashes also account for 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths totaling 143,000 deaths. This stems from the much larger number of hours that truck drivers spend on the road compared to everyday drivers. The general public drives 12,000-15,000 miles annually, while a fleet driver drives roughly 20,000-25,000 or more each year. This increased travel time increases the risk of accidents and the number one factor for these accidents is distracted driving.
Beyond the safety of the driver is also the financial implications. On average, the cost of a fleet accident totals $70,000 which is double to cost of the average workplace injury. When a fleet accident occurs, not only do all the concerns of a general driver follow, but further hits accumulate. Lost sales from shipments, potential third-party liabilities if the driver caused the crash, lost productivity, and more all occur after a fleet accident. So, how do we reduce the risk?
The power of technology is how we use it. Just as technology can create problems, so can it solve them. So, a great step towards tackling this complex and critical problem of distracted driving is with technology. Global Cloud Fleet’s VS800 Video Solution offers tangible steps towards improving driver safety with AI powered driver scoring and emerging distracted driver monitoring capabilities. Having eyes into the scene is crucial to changing behaviors. The cameras dual vision allows fleet managers to view what happens on the road and in the cabin, allowing them to identify if driving errors are caused by distractions or not. Doing this helps fleet managers address pivotal issues such as distracted driving before costly consequences occur. Likewise, driver scoring incentivizes drivers to stay as focused as possible while on the road.
On top of implementing AI powered dual dashboard cameras like the VS800 Video Solution, creativity can help tremendously. Properly diagnose “why” the driver gets distracted and look for creative ways to substitute that. For something this critical and costly, do not be afraid to utilize resources, as it will not only save money, but more importantly create a safer driving environment for both fleet drivers and the drivers they share the road with.