DRIVING PERSPECTIVE BLOG

Distracted Driving Awareness: Curbing the Power of Smartphones

Driving in the 21st Century, Featured
Aug 14/2018 Published by: Lytx Lytx Telematics

Larry Rosen, Ph.D., a research psychologist and educator at California State University,
Dominguez Hills, has called the smartphone “a major game changer in our lack of attention.” Photo by Gary Kuwahara

We don’t need Distracted Driving Awareness Month to know that the impacts of distracted driving can be lifelong. One listen to the poignant stories of those who have lost loved ones to distracted driving hammers the point home.

And yet, the fatal statistics keep trending upward. In an interview with Lytx last year, National Safety Council statistician Ken Kolosh revealed that in 2015 and 2016, the U.S. experienced yearly increases exceeding 6 percent in motor vehicle fatalities, the largest two-year percentage increase in deaths in 53 years. Reversing that trend starts with curtailing distracted driving, Kolosh said.

In fact, according to Lytx data, a person is seven times more likely to have a collision when reaching for a device, and 23 times more likely to have a collision when texting.

While smartphones aren’t the only culprit in the distracted driving space (navigation devices, loose objects and eating play a role), their unique power propels the distracted driving problem, said Larry Rosen, Ph.D., a research psychologist and educator at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Rosen, the author of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, discussed Americans’ obsession with technology on 60 Minutes last spring. Calling the smartphone “the biggest driving force to distract us,” Rosen talks with Lytx about why this gadget drives distraction so much—while Lytx’s Gary Johnson joins Rosen in offering tips on what fleets can do to curb distraction at the wheel.

The Power of Smartphones Can Fuel Distracted Driving

Well before smartphones became popular in the early 2000s, people had an “implicit agreement that they would return calls when they could,” Rosen said. But as email, cell phones, and texting became more common, the expectation of a timely reply ramped up, too.

Social media fueled people’s craving for immediate feedback even more, Rosen said. And though smartphones are useful for several things, they distract us for three key reasons:

  1. We thrive on feeling connected, and smartphones offer connectivity. “Smartphones have turned us into information-foraging animals,” Rosen said. “We’re like animals foraging for food, but we’re foraging for information instead.” By offering a combination of information and connectivity to our social networks, smartphones “have everything we live for,” Rosen said.

  2. Smartphones consume our attention. That’s fine if we have nothing else to do, but when there’s work to be done (such as commercial driving), smartphones hinder one’s ability to focus. In writing The Distracted Mind, Rosen learned that unless a task is very simple, human beings can’t perform two tasks at once. “When we try to focus on two things at the same time, it takes us longer to do them both and adds a lot of stress,” he said. Not to mention, checking your phone requires removing your eyes from the road.

  3. Checking in is a compulsion. Rosen emphasized people’s heavy reliance on smartphones doesn’t constitute an addiction. Rather, it’s a compulsion. “If it were an addiction, we’d enjoy it,” he said. “But most of us don’t enjoy it. When logging in to social media, most people actually get a feeling of relief—like ‘I’ve checked in and everything’s cool.’ They can check it off their list.”

    Propelling that compulsion is the “ding” a smartphone produces. Though it may seem benign, Rosen has found that it actually raises anxiety levels. “It’s very difficult to be doing anything, including driving, and have your smartphone ding,” Rosen said. “On 60 Minutes, every time my colleague Dr. Nancy Cheever texted anchor Anderson Cooper, his arousal spiked. That shows that when a smartphone dings, people will be drawn to it, and it detracts their attention from the task at hand.”

So what can commercial safety managers do to curb distracted driving, considering the power that smartphones have on us? Rosen and Lytx Director of Risk and Compliance Gary Johnson make these suggestions:

  1. Turn the smartphone off or use the “Do Not Disturb” setting while driving. “It’s very difficult to be driving and have your smartphone ding every time a text comes through,” Rosen said. “By turning the phone off or the volume down, you increase your chances of putting your attention where it needs to be—on driving.”

  2. Invest in video telematics such as the Lytx DriveCam® safety program. Fleets that have a distracted driving problem among drivers often don’t even know it until they’ve installed a program such as the DriveCam® safety program, Johnson said. Such safety technologies give fleets visibility into what’s really happening with their drivers, he added. Just as important, the DriveCam safety program empowers companies to coach drivers who are distracted at the wheel, helping them improve while keeping their jobs.

    A person driving while dialing a smartphone is six times more likely to be involved in a collision than someone who’s not, as indicated by Lytx data. “By adopting video telematics technology, you obtain the tools to address distracted driving behaviors,” Johnson said. “They’re behaviors that put not only the company at risk, but especially the driver.”

    Even a routine call by a dispatcher can tempt drivers to answer the phone while driving, despite whether company policy or state law forbids it. “Sure, many state laws forbid using a cell phone while driving, but if a phone’s in the vehicle, that temptation is always there,” Johnson said. “The DriveCam safety program can show, through concrete video, whether or not your policies are being followed and enforced.”

  3. Train your drivers to take a smartphone break. It’s called a “technology break,” said Rosen, who suggests fleet managers work with their drivers to reduce their dependence on smartphones. “The best thing you could do for your drivers is to help behaviorally train them not to check in while they’re driving,” he said. “Getting the phones out of the vehicle is a good place to start.”

    In their free time, drivers can work to wean themselves from their smartphones by checking it at intervals farther and farther apart, Rosen added.

  4. Reframe the sensation of anxiety as “excitement.” The chemicals that make you feel anxious are really just arousal chemicals, Rosen said. “We can just as easily reinterpret them as excitement, and then people won’t feel the need to check in.” Rosen also suggests drivers listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks while they drive to get their minds off their smartphones. “Audio stimuli bring up a whole new pleasure system in your brain that isn’t based on anxiety,” he said. “They’re a distraction from the distraction.”

    Ultimately, Johnson said, it’s family members who are driving on the road every day. “So why would you put families at risk by not addressing this behavior?”

If you’re looking to address distracted driving in your fleet, you might be interested in the ActiveVision service®. Paired with the DriveCam safety program, the ActiveVision service enhancement can help you detect drowsy and distracted driving, and ultimately help you proactively address risky driving behavior.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog and be the first to receive our updates!

# # #


Related Tags

Related Blog Posts

Apr 29 / 2016Driving in the 21st Century

Partnering with Autonomous Vehicles

Staff Writer

Sep 24 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Changing Habits by Retraining Muscle Memory

Staff Writer

Sep 16 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Understanding the Demand for Driverless Cars

Staff Writer

Sep 14 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Who Will Code Ethics into Autonomous Vehicles?

Staff Writer

Aug 25 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Innovation’s Role in Recruiting the Next Generation of Drivers

Staff Writer

Aug 18 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Frost & Sullivan: 1 million vehicles with video by 2020

Staff Writer

Aug 13 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Humans vs. Robot Cars: Preparing for the Showdown

Staff Writer

Jul 24 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Big Data, Better Drivers

Staff Writer

May 16 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Predictive Analytics: A Game Changer in 2018

Staff Writer

Jan 15 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

CES Focus: Road Safety

Staff Writer

Nov 03 / 2014Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Adjusting to Standard Time

Del Lisk

Oct 17 / 2014Driving in the 21st Century

It Takes More than Technology To Make Roads Safer

Del Lisk

Sep 17 / 2014Driving in the 21st Century

Women on the Road

Staff Writer

May 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Retraining to Retain Your Drivers

Staff Writer

May 25 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Taking the Risk Out of One of the Riskiest Professions

Staff Writer

Jun 01 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Heinrich’s Pyramid Challenge: 190 to 1 in an Instant

Staff Writer

Jun 03 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Why Hands-Free Phones Still Lead to Distractions & Collisions

Staff Writer

Jun 15 / 2016Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How Gamification Optimizes Driving & Vehicle Performance

Staff Writer

Jun 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Who – or What -- Does the Heavy Lifting to Improve CSA Scores?

Staff Writer

Jul 07 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Top 3 Ways Proactive Fleet Managers Build a Safety Program

Staff Writer

Jul 08 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Meet Janelle: The Cone Destroyer

Staff Writer

Jul 27 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Using Data to Prioritize Your Fleet’s Safety Issues

Staff Writer

Jul 29 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Driving for the Limits of Automated Technology

Brandon Nixon

Aug 18 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

DOT Regulations: From the Same Government Who Brought You the Tax Code

Staff Writer

Aug 24 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Why Unsafe Drivers Are Often the Biggest Fuel Offenders

Staff Writer

Sep 08 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Hours of Service, Driver Behavior and the ELD Mandate: American Central Transport’s Story

Staff Writer

Sep 26 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Fleet Safety: The Dangers Lurking Inside Your Fleet

Staff Writer

Oct 19 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Hallmark of a Successful Video-based Safety Program

Staff Writer

Oct 28 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

What You Might Not Know About the ELD Mandate

Staff Writer

Nov 01 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Fleet Safety: Putting a Stop to Rolling Stops

Staff Writer

Nov 09 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Three Types of Distracted Driving – and How to Solve Them – Part 1: Manual Distractions

Staff Writer

Nov 15 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Three Types of Distracted Driving – and How to Solve Them – Part 2: Visual Distractions

Staff Writer

Nov 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Distracted Driving Behaviors – and How to Solve Them – Part 3 Cognitive Distractions

Staff Writer

Dec 06 / 2016Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 1: The Value of Video in Litigation

Staff Writer

Dec 16 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 2: Exoneration From The Driver’s Seat

Staff Writer

Dec 22 / 2016Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 3: The Company and the Courtroom

Staff Writer

Jan 10 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Three Things That Put Teeth in Your Safety Policy

Staff Writer

Feb 01 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Effective Video Review: Better Coaching

Staff Writer

Feb 28 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

High-Efficiency Driving: Five Driver Behaviors that Reduce Cost

Staff Writer

Mar 02 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

What’s a Safety Halo? And Can it Help Build Your Brand?

Staff Writer

Mar 22 / 2017Choosing the Right Program, Featured

From the Front Lines: Turning Data into Insight

Staff Writer

Mar 24 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Part 2: Using DriveCam® Event Data to Drive More Effective Coaching

Staff Writer

Mar 28 / 2017Featured

Part 3: Getting Drivers and Managers to Buy into Analytics

Staff Writer

Apr 14 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Autonomous Vehicle Essentials You Need to Know Part One: Levels of Automation

Staff Writer

Apr 18 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Autonomous Vehicle Essentials You Need to Know Part Two: Impact on Drivers, Fleets and the Industry

Staff Writer

May 30 / 2017Featured

A Safety Manager Uses Math to Look Under the Surface

Staff Writer

Jun 07 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

A Swift Guide to Better Coaching

Staff Writer

Jun 26 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How ‘Cultural Novocain’ is Numbing Outrage to Traffic Fatalities

Staff Writer

Jun 30 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

A Practical Guide to Coaching Through Conflict

Staff Writer

Jul 06 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Why Putting Positivity Behind Your Training Program Will Pay Off

Beth Geraci

Jul 13 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Mobile Fire Department - Lytx Coach of the Year

Beth Geraci

Jul 17 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

More Fatalities Happen on Rural Roads - On Either Side of the Atlantic

Beth Geraci

Jul 20 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Secrets of Top Performing Fleets

Staff Writer

Jul 25 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

The Power of Peers to Inform Fleet Safety

Beth Geraci

Aug 10 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Distracted Pedestrians are On the Rise: What to Do About Them

Staff Writer

Aug 16 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Fear of Autonomous Vehicles – Loving of Autonomous Features

Staff Writer

Aug 31 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Is Your Rewards Program a Bust? Get a New Approach

Staff Writer

Sep 01 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Trucking Industry Pulls Together to Aid Houston During Hurricane Harvey

Staff Writer

Sep 08 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Video Event Recorders Can Protect One’s Livelihood

Beth Geraci

Sep 15 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Components of Effective Accountability Systems

Staff Writer

Sep 22 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

What’s Out There: Three Rewards Programs That Work

Staff Writer

Sep 25 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Video: Evolution, Revolution, or Both?

Brandon Nixon

Oct 06 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Why Reporting Claims Quickly Can Significantly Cut Claims Cost

Staff Writer

Oct 10 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Painting the Complete Picture: The Use of Witnesses in Trials

Staff Writer

Oct 16 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Four Driver Behaviors That Consume The Most Fuel

Staff Writer

Oct 19 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Worst 'Crash' Ever

Staff Writer

Oct 24 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Can We Reverse the Trend of Road Fatalities? New Figures Give One Safety Official Hope.

Beth Geraci

Nov 03 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Daylight Saving Time: More Light Has a Dark Side for Road Safety

Beth Geraci

Nov 07 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Communications 101: Seven Steps to Successfully Spreading the Word

Staff Writer

Nov 10 / 2017Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Owner’s Guide to Creating a Medium-Sized Fleet Safety Program

Beth Geraci

Nov 16 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Five Sources of Aggressive Driving and What You Can Do About It

Staff Writer

Nov 20 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Seven Safety Quagmires and How to Sidestep Them

Staff Writer

Nov 29 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Gunning It: 6 Facts on Why to Avoid Hard Accelerations

Beth Geraci

Dec 06 / 2017Featured

The Interplay Between Leadership and Technology

Staff Writer

Dec 13 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How Safety Technology is Paving the Way to Zero Collisions

Beth Geraci

Dec 15 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Catching the Spirit of the Season

Beth Geraci

Dec 19 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

12 Days of Takeaways

Beth Geraci

Dec 27 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Out of Control: Drugged Driving Is on the Rise. Here’s What Commercial Drivers Can Do About It.

Beth Geraci

Jan 15 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Navigating the Risks of Navigation Devices

Beth Geraci

Jan 22 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Four Ways the DriveCam Program Backs Up Drivers

Beth Geraci

Feb 02 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Off Site but on Top of It: Leveraging Video Telematics to be in More Places at Once

Staff Writer

Feb 07 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

2018 Automotive Telematics Trends: A Look at the Telematics Industry

Beth Geraci

Feb 16 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Reflections on Using Mirrors When Driving

Beth Geraci

Feb 21 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

What 20 Years of Innovation Looks Like at a Video Telematics Company

Beth Geraci

Mar 09 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Shedding Light on How Daylight Saving Time Impacts Road Safety

Beth Geraci

Mar 16 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

6 Defensive Driving Tips for St. Patrick’s Day

Beth Geraci

Mar 29 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Driver of the Year Embraces Safety Technology

Beth Geraci

Apr 13 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Complying With the ELD Mandate: What’s Next?

Staff Writer

May 03 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

A Driving Coach Can Bring A Human Approach to the Vision Zero Initiative

Staff Writer

May 08 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

When Safety Is a Family Affair, Work-Related Injuries Can Be Avoided

Beth Geraci

May 14 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Five Top Tips from A Top Driving Coach

Beth Geraci

May 23 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Five Benefits of Modern Fleet Tracking Systems

Staff Writer

May 31 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Safety Technology and the NTSB: How Video Impacted an Investigation

Beth Geraci

Jun 06 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Stricter Enforcement Makes ELD Compliance More Vital

Beth Geraci

Jun 20 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Where Will the Transportation Industry Be in 20 Years?

Beth Geraci

Jul 11 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

A 3-Step Guide to Proactive Coaching for Fleet Managers

Beth Geraci

Jul 31 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Man Who Takes Fleet Driver Safety to Heart

Beth Geraci

Aug 08 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

National Truck Driving Championships: Roping a Win for Fleet Safety

Beth Geraci

Aug 22 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

3 Ways the American Safety Council Helps Keep Roads Safer

Staff Writer

Jan 18 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Best of the Blog 2017

Beth Geraci

Sep 10 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Women in Trucking: Jodi Edwards Leads by Example

Beth Geraci

Sep 19 / 2018Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

5 Driver Retention Strategies that Work

Staff Writer