According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 9 people die every day due to distracted driving. In addition to fatalities, at least 1,000 injuries per day are caused by a distracted driver.
These accidents are not only deadly but also extremely costly for those in the transportation and logistics industry. Research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) shows that the average single-vehicle crash can cost an employer around $16,500. And if at least one driver is injured, that total can climb to more than $74,000.
In the case of a fatal crash, however, the guilty party can expect to shell out a minimum of $500,000.
Shocking statistics such as this highlight the need to invest in driver safety programs that promote good employee habits, reduce distractions, and curb careless behavior.
To further prove our point, let’s take a look at some additional stats regarding distracted driving:
- Cellphone usage is estimated to account for 27% of motor vehicle collisions (NSC).
- 10% of fatal crashes, 15% of injurious crashes, and 14% of police-reported crashes in 2015 were caused by driver distractions (NHTSA).
- In 2016, 3,450 lives were claimed by distracted driving (NHTSA).
- In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers (NHTSA).
Leading Causes of Driver Distraction
The popularity of mobile devices has undoubtedly had a negative impact on driver safety. The majority of distracted driving events involve using a phone, such as making calls, texting, reading messages, surfing the web, posting on social media, and even using video chat.
And according to research from the University of Utah, cellphone users are 5.36 times more likely to be involved in an accident than non-distracted drivers.
A survey of over 3,400 US adult drivers conducted by NSC revealed that:
- 51% of respondents made and answered calls using a hands-free device and 19% used a handheld device while driving
- 32% read and sent text messages
- 23% read and sent emails, and read and posted on social media
- 19% recorded or viewed photos and video
- 14% watched TV or a movie or participated in video chat
These numbers should be quite concerning for fleet owners as it suggests that not only are there plenty of distracted drivers on the road but that their own employees may be at risk of becoming distracted behind the wheel.
9 Ways to Reduce Distractions on the Road
1. Don’t Eat or Drink While Driving
When rushing to complete shipments or deliveries, nothing is more alluring than the temptation to eat and drink on the way there. However, trying to eat a meal and drink while driving takes your concentration away from the road ahead and prevents you from properly steering the vehicle. With a burger and drink in hand, it’s easy to lose grip of the steering wheel or veer outside your lane, increasing the chances of an accident.
2. Avoid Multitasking and Complicated Tasks
Trying to perform multiple activities at once can distract a driver from the task at hand. Changing channels on the radio, checking for messages on your cellphone, and talking with friends on the phone are all examples of multitasking.
3. Never Use Mobile Devices While Behind the Wheel
Evidenced by the statistics above, using cell phones while driving can increase the chances of being involved in an accident by 5.36 times. Even hands-free devices can still distract drivers, drawing their attention away from the road. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), drivers can remain distracted for up to 27 seconds after making the phone call. Therefore, if a phone call must be answered, a driver should pull over at a safe location before picking up the phone.
4. Properly Store Equipment
Any necessary equipment should be properly stowed before beginning a trip. As a driver takes turns and begins driving, loose items can roll around in the cabin. Reaching down for an item while driving is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
5. Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Taking your eyes off the road to look at billboards, landmarks, and the countryside may be a temporary cure for boredom, but it can also lead to a permanent setback—a crash. Every 2 seconds, drivers should look at the road and check their mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds.
6. Don’t Drive Drowsy
It’s estimated that drowsy driving is just as, or more dangerous than drunk driving. Studies from the National Sleep Foundation show that lack of sleep can affect driving abilities in the same way that alcohol does. According to the NHTSA, over 100,000 crashes each year are caused by drowsy driving.
7. Adjust Mirrors, Seats, and GPS Before Driving
Before leaving the parking space, drivers should adjust mirrors, seats, GPS devices, etc. Attempting to adjust these items while driving can take away attention from the road.
8. Get Ready at Home
Getting dressed, putting on makeup, or fixing your hair should never take place while driving. If your shift starts early and you don’t have time to get ready for the day, it’s your responsibility to get up earlier or take care of it at the next stop.
9. Stay Organized
A cluttered cabin can be a huge source of distraction for a driver. Searching for maps, documents, and other papers while driving can remove your eyes from the road and cause you to lose control of the wheel.
Distractions both inside and outside the cabin can greatly increase the chances of your driver getting involved an accident. This not only costs you large amounts of time and money but also lost productivity due to employee injuries and vehicles being put out of service.
By implementing these 9 tips, you’ll find yourself reducing operating costs and completing more shipments on time. You’ll also save incredible amounts of money by avoiding lawsuits and paying workman’s comp.
But even with the best driver safety program in place, how do you guarantee that your drivers aren’t participating in dangerous behaviors on the road? After all, you can’t ride along with every one of your employees—that’s physically impossible.
With Safety Track’s line of live dashcams, you can get a peek inside the cab and monitor your fleet drivers in real time. This allows you to check up on your employees periodically to review their performance and correct dangerous habits and behaviors before they form.
To learn more about Safety Track and how their fleet safety solutions can protect your business, please visit their page.