By a 2-to-1 margin, the Arizona state Senate recently approved a bill that would extend the reach of existing distracted driving laws to all drivers on the road. Until now, Arizona’s laws have only applied to school bus drivers and novice drivers, such as those who have learning permits, are less than 18 years old, or have had a license for less than 6 months. Very shortly, anyone behind the wheel of an automotive could soon be banned from both texting and handling a cellphone while driving.
If this bill passes through the Arizona state house of representatives, it would make Missouri and Montana the only remaining states that have yet to fully ban texting while driving. Here’s a map representing state bans on texting while driving:
According to CBS News, states that have put texting bans in place have seen, on average, a 7% reduction in car-crash hospitalization rates when compared with the states that have no bans. It would seem that these laws are doing their job in saving lives and reducing injuries on the road. Texting, however, represents just one part of cellphone usage—and driver distraction as a whole.
Completely banning the use of cellphones while driving remains a controversial issue, with few states enforcing a total cellphone-usage ban while driving. Just 15 states and the District of Columbia have such rules set in place, preventing drivers from making or answering calls without the use of a voice-activated, handheld device. The rest either have no legislation regarding talking on the phone or have specific conditions, such as driving through a school zone or highway work zone.
Even if we were to see a nation-wide ban on phone usage behind the wheel, there would remain many alternative causes for distracted driving, such as eating and drinking, looking at outside scenery, multi-tasking, reaching for items inside the car, and driving while drowsy.
This raises the question, “should legislators be doing more to protect drivers on the road?” And, “is the law ultimately responsible for making roads safer?” If enforcing the law is the only form of reducing distracted driving, it would make sense to ban eating and drinking while driving and set up DUI-style roadside stops to ensure that drivers aren’t too sleepy to drive.
Yes, we realize that these may seem like loaded questions, but what would happen if we shifted the burden of responsibility onto ourselves and questioned whether or not we’re doing everything we can to make a change? Rather than waiting for the law to catch up (and for people to follow the law), what measures could we take to reduce fatalities and injuries on the road?
On an individual level, it requires us to be more intentional and to prioritize safety over “time-saving” activities like eating a burger on the road (we put time-saving in quotes because a collision will really set you back). For commercial fleet managers and business owners, we think that the answer is rather clear: instead of letting technology make roads less safe for drivers, take advantage of it to make them safer for everyone.
Of course, one of the biggest disconnects between safety training or company policies and safer roads is employee monitoring. Without the ability to check up on drivers and see whether or not they’re following safe driving principles, there’s no way of enforcing them before it’s too late.
With fleet tracking devices such as GPS and live streaming dash cameras, you can monitor driver behavior in real time and make corrections before they develop into dangerous habits. They can also help managers provide personalized feedback to drivers, using footage from their own routes.
If you’d like to learn more about how live streaming dash cameras can help you run a safer, more profitable fleet, please visit our page.