For many commercial fleets, driver and public safety is a top priority, and organizations take great care to prevent costly and potentially deadly accidents. While a number of factors can lead to a crash(e.g., impaired driving, poor road conditions and adverse weather), distracted driving is a common, preventable cause of accidents. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that every year, up to 391,000 people are injured and 3,450 people are killed in crashes involving distracted drivers.
Distracted driving reduces awareness, decision-making and performance, increasing the likelihood of driver error, near-crashes or crashes. What’s more, distracted driving is not always attributable to a medical condition, alcohol and drug use, or fatigue.
Distracted driving is an ongoing safety concern for commercial fleets. However, the widespread increase in cellphone use over the past decade has brought the issue to the forefront.
Studies have shown that many collisions and near-collisions involve some form of driver inattention, often just three seconds prior to the event. These statistics are particularly noteworthy for fleets, as many commercial vehicles have poorer driver visibility than personal cars and are much more difficult to control or stop in the event of an emergency. For commercial fleets, distracted driving can lead to increased insurance premiums, costly repairs, decreased productivity, reputational damage, and driver injury or death.
To protect themselves and public safety, it’s important for organizations and fleet managers to have an understanding of distracted driving, including common causes and prevention strategies. This guide provides background information commercial fleets can use to supplement a risk management program and establish a safe workplace.
Types of Distracted Driving
Often, when thinking about distracted driving, it’s easy to focus on inattentiveness caused by cellphones and other electronic devices. However, while texting and taking phone calls while driving are major causes of accidents, they aren’t the only distractions
Any time a driver reaches for an object or gets distracted by outside stimuli, the chances of an accident drastically increase. In fact, studies show that simply by dialing a cellphone, the likelihood of a crash is six times greater.
To remain safe on the roads, drivers need to be aware of common distractions that can put them and the public in danger:
- Using electronic devices such as a GPS, MP3 player, radio, cellphone or laptop
- Reading maps, books, texts, or printed directions
- Combing hair, putting on makeup, shaving, brushing teeth, or similar grooming activities
- Eating, drinking, or smoking
- Talking with passengers or tending to children or pets
- Focusing attention on visual distractions outside the vehicle, such as collision, police activity, street signs, pedestrians, construction, or billboards