Best Distracted Driving Solutions

What is distracted driving?

A comprehensive overview of the types of distracted driving, statistics, and tips to combat distracted driving.

Approximate read time: 6 minutes

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is prevalent across all industries, and in both commercial and private vehicles. Whether someone is taking an 8-hour or a 1-minute drive, a single second of distraction can have serious consequences. It’s no surprise that companies are spending significant time and resources to tackle this issue for employees who drive as part of their jobs.

Here are some important things companies need to know to be better equipped to identify and mitigate the issue.

What is distracted driving?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention away from the task of safe driving.¹ Examples of distracted driving include talking on the phone, texting, eating, drinking, and adjusting dashboards (CB radio, temperature controls, navigation system, etc.). The new technologies appearing in both passenger and commercial vehicles are only adding more distractions behind the wheel, even when it’s billed as “hands free.”

The bottom line: when a driver’s attention isn’t fully engaged, for whatever reason, the activity of driving becomes unsafe and there’s an increased risk of collision.

Types of distracted driving

The NHTSA has three categories of distracted driving:

visual distractions

manual distractions

cognitive distractions

These types of distraction are not mutually exclusive—drivers who engage in one distracting behavior are more likely to juggle other risky behaviors at the same time.2 One of the most well-known examples is texting.

Here is a real-life video of that exact situation:

A text pings a driver’s cell phone and the driver looks down, picking up the phone to read the text and perhaps respond. This effectively removes the driver’s vision, hands, and attention from the road ahead in one fell swoop. The driver swerves in time to avoid a collision, but this clip is a perfect example of how one of the most frequent driving behaviors—texting—is also one of the riskiest for distractions.

Distracted driving statistics

Reading about the dangers of distractions while driving and seeing proof in the numbers are very different things. Oftentimes, the most effective way for companies to get employees to reduce these behaviors by educating everyone on these powerful (and alarming) distracted driving statistics:

  • Multi-taskingeating, drinking, smoking, and using a phone—while driving increases the risk of collision by 100%.2
  • 3,166 people were killed by distracted driving in 2017.3
  • Cell phone use was reported as the distraction in 14% of all fatal distraction-affected crashes in 2017.3
  • In commercial vehicle fleets, distraction is the second leading driver-related cause of fatal truck crashes.4
  • Texting without looking at the road for 5 seconds while traveling at a speed of 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded.5
  • The risk of a collision is increase by 7x when reaching for a device and 23x while texting.5  
  • Companies pay an average of $200K per incident and $3.6M per fatality for medium and heavy truck collisions.6

How to limit distractions while driving

Reducing distracted driving in a fleet starts and ends with building a strong safety culture. Companies that are successful with this promote safety to the point that it’s embedded in both the culture and operations of the organization, encouraging drivers to “do the right thing” when no one is looking. Here are some foundational elements of a great driver safety program:

Safety code of conduct

This is a document that outlines a company’s expectations and policies around safe driving. These codes typically include:

  • A safety mission statement
  • Specific examples of what qualifies as risky behavior
  • Safety rules for daily operations
  • Measurable safety goals
  • Consequences for engaging in risky behaviors
  • A clear incident reporting process
     

Technology to detect distracted driving

Video telematics can reveal what’s really happening in the field, at any given time. Fleets can be notified of distracted driving instances, see video clips for full context, and take steps to proactively prevent future occurrences. For example, if fleet dash cam video reveals a driver is frequently eating while behind the wheel and has had some near-misses, a company with a safety focus will have the tools (and evidence) to address that behavior and correct it.       

Today, cameras with advanced machine vision and artificial intelligence technology, like the DriveCam SF300 event recorder, can help companies detect risks like distracted driving.

On-going driver coaching

The information companies gain from video solutions such as dash cams will only be an antidote to distracted driving if it is leveraged to coach drivers. The patterns and incidents that telematics and video technology reveal are powerful tools to train and coach drivers—this is a consistent, on-going effort within the best safety campaigns (take Sysco for example.) For example, managers can sit with drivers on a monthly basis, watch flagged video clips together, and talk about why the driver was distracted in specific instances. Conversations should not be focused on punishment, but rather on education. Keep in mind that coaching can take on different forms. It can be weekly or monthly scheduled meetings; it can also be quick face-to-face conversations or looped into one-on-one meetings if time is short. And drivers can self-coach as well. Each company can tailor its feedback process to suit its needs. 

Rewards and recognition

Companies that have successfully limited distracted driving share another common feature—they recognize and reward safe behavior. By elevating and publicizing drivers who demonstrate clear-eyed focus and good decision-making while on the road, fleets can positively reinforce safe driving behaviors. Employees will have specific examples of how a company’s safety policies can be applied in real life, strong performers will be rewarded and incentivized, and safety will be further embedded in the fleet’s culture. 

How Lytx detects and helps prevent distracted driving

Finding solutions to help combat distracted driving is something Lytx has been doing for over 20 years, longer than any other company in the industry. Lytx’s video telematics systems have collected over 100 billion miles of driving data from more than one million vehicles worldwide. This massive and unique data set is the largest in the world, which has been used to develop innovative technology for improving fleet safety and performance.

Lytx offers the industry’s most advanced technology for detecting a wide range of risky behaviors—many of which are directly related to distracted driving—by combining machine vision and artificial intelligence (MV+AI) with telematics sensors. Machine vision collects images from multiple sources, such as advanced sensors on vehicles. This data is then processed and analyzed by artificial intelligence algorithms to determine trends in events or behaviors, helping fleets detect and predict risk with more accuracy than ever before. The algorithms are constantly getting “smarter” because our DriveCam cameras, the foundational hardware in all of our fleet management solutions, capture 100,000 risky driving events every day. As this data accumulates, risk insights become more refined and fleets learn exactly where the biggest dangers hide on the road.

To learn more about how Lytx’s MV+AI video technology can help reduce distracted driving in your fleet, book a demo.

 

¹ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “Distracted Driving” - https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving

“Lytx Releases New Insights into Distracted Driving Among Commercial Drivers”- https://www.lytx.com/en-us/news-events/press-release/2019/lytx-releases-new-insights-into-distracted-driving

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “Distracted Driving in Fatal Crashes, 2017”- https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812700

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016” -  https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2016

Lytx “Distracted and Drowsy Driving” Infographic

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “Unit Costs of Medium and Heavy Truck Crashes” -https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/UnitCostsTruck%20Crashes2007.pdf