The question of what is distracted driving is easily answered. Yet, the problems associated with distracted driving have become so entrenched in society that the question demands to be asked repeatedly. On a basic level, distracted driving means driving while not paying full attention to the road. Straightforward, right? Then why is it so hard to eliminate.
For companies operating a commercial fleet, the distraction scourge is more acute. In addition to the obvious health and safety concerns, failure to adhere to safe driving procedures has serious commercial, legal and operational implications for a business.
To understand the question of what is distracted driving in a commercial setting, fleet managers need to look no further than the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s refined definition of distracted driving. FMCSA’s definition of the illegal use of a phone behind the wheel can be distilled into five activities: reaching, holding, dialing, texting, reading.
Clearly, employers need to implement a total ban policy on the use of mobile devices in the workplace. But the temptation to call, read emails, use social media or start texting while driving is so ingrained in people that one wonders is this enough. A policy is worthless if it is not enforced and enforcing it through total distracted driving software solutions is the best way to achieve this. Not only does this have obvious positive health and safety repercussions, but it also makes commercial and operational sense.
Here are the five main benefits of implementing distracted driving software solutions in your company:
1. SAVE LIVES
The federal government reports that more than 3,000 people are killed on U.S. roads every year in distracted driving crashes. Companies with commercial motor vehicles on the road need to take further note: Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of work-related deaths and account for 24% of all fatal occupational injuries. Driver distraction, in particular, the use of cell phones, including hands-free devices (contrary to popular view, these offer no safety benefit, because hands-free devices do not eliminate the cognitive distraction of conversation) is a significant factor in these fatal crashes. Whether it’s the bus driver talking on a hands-free cell phone, causing a crash that injured 11 students (2004); or the truck driver who, distracted by the use of his cellphone, crashed into a van killing 14 people (2010), there are an increasing number of serious and fatal crashes caused by common cognitive distraction activities such as calling or texting while driving.
What does this mean for employers? Employees who use their cell phones while driving expose themselves to considerable safety risks, and this applies not just to commercial drivers, but also to other employees whose work involves driving, such as salespeople or service technicians.
Thankfully, distracted driving software exists to ensure safe driving by giving company administrators complete control over employee mobile device usage while allowing mission-critical app usage through the system. Driver behavior can be monitored and driving performance scored and rewarded, providing fleet managers with insights to enforce their company’s policy against distracted drivingthus saving the lives of both employees and other road users in the process.
2. SAVE MONEY
Safe driving saves money on two fronts: By reducing liability and by protecting a company’s reputation.
- Reducing Liability:
Employers need to fully grasp what they may face in today’s courtrooms. Court awards and settlements are on the rise and governments are leveling ever-harsher penalties for negligent driving behaviors such as calling on a cell phone or texting while driving. On-the-job distracted driving crashes are costly to employers, incurring costs of more than $24,500 per property damage crash and $150,000 per injury crash. No other single event could do more damage to the growth of your business, than action or settlement due to a distracted driving claim.
The enormous expense and liability in relation to distracted driving can be addressed effectively by distracted driving solutions that eradicate mobile distraction while providing unrivaled control, recording and feedback to improve driving performance.
- Maintaining a Good Reputation:
A distracted driving policy enforced by innovative technology solutions like TRUCE won’t just save money by avoiding payouts from distracted driving crashes or lawsuits, it will also contribute to a culture of safety and safe driving on the road, thus preserving a company’s good reputation. These days a business risks losing 22% of its annual sales when a customer finds negative reviews about them on the first page of their search results. Therefore, safeguarding a company’s reputation is one of the most valuable things it can do
3. IMPROVE EFFICIENCY
It’s simple: Companies need to keep their drivers on the road. They achieve that by avoiding motor crashes and legal infractions that would put a fleet vehicle out of use and prevent job-critical tasks getting done. Safe driving means improved efficiency.
Customers of TRUCE’s distracted driving software report that annual crashes can be reduced by as much as half within the first year. By configuring a technology platform to be in control of individual drivers, aided by a system of alerts and notifications, administrators provide key support to drivers as they strive to adhere to their company’s safe driving policies.
Distracted driving software creates a distraction-free driving environment that allows the driver to do what they do best, controlling a commercial motor vehicle from behind the wheel without the temptation to start texting or checking emails. A thorough set of performance measurement and scoring tools further incentivize them to drive safely and efficiently as they carry out their day’s work.
4. DISTRACTED DRIVING SOFTWARE IS USER-FRIENDLY
Changing driving behavior is a difficult task. Implementing a comprehensive distracted driving policy is a challenge for any health and safety manager, particularly if it is expected to stand on its own. The task of enforcing a safe driving policy can be made easier through the use of innovative distracted driving software solutions that, through the combination of easily-installed devices with mobile apps and management systems, prevent dangerous driving behaviors by controlling how employees use their phones.
TRUCE is an industry-leading provider of such distracted driving software. Its technology is straightforward to operate thanks to several key features:
- TRUCE has been optimized for deployment across businesses of any size.
- The system is configurable at a driver level, enabling different employees to have different protection settings on the same account.
- TRUCE works across all vehicle types, mobile carriers and mobile device platforms.
- The system supports Apple iPhone and iOS devices (4S and newer), as well as Android devices (4.3 and newer), delivering the same quality user experience regardless of the environment.
- The system can be easily deployed through the App Store or through a company’s existing Mobile Device Management System.
5. STAY ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LAW
There is an ever-growing number of laws and regulations concerning distracted driving with which companies must comply. For instance, federal agencies (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, to name a few) have passed a joint law that prohibits commercial drivers from using mobile devices while operating commercial vehicles. Companies need to be aware of, and to be compliant with, these increasing number of laws concerning safe driving. There is no more effective way to improve compliance and avoid civil penalties than, firstly, to implement policies that exceed existing regulations, and, secondly, to back up these policies with cutting-edge software solutions designed to eliminate distracted driving.
Everyone expects the number and severity of local and national laws and penalties associated with driving distraction to rise, which means businesses would be well advised to introduce proactive solutions to stay ahead of these regulations.
Companies need to take action to create strong safety cultures by eliminating bad habits that lead to fatal crashes, serious injury and vehicle damage. Implementing a distracted driving policy is a great move, but businesses can go further. Easy-to-use, tamper-proof devices and distracted driving software can become a key tool in protecting employees and the communities in which they operate, while also preventing loss of revenue, maintaining operational efficiency and staying legally compliant. Safety, then, is a pretty good business.