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Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Fleet Safety Tips

By Verizon Connect April 2, 2024

Now is the perfect time to take a closer look at your fleet safety program as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. Distracted driving is a significant risk for drivers across the country—in fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 8% of all fatal crashes involve a distracted driver.1 Distracted driving remains a pressing issue, with a steady increase in deaths tied to distracted driving every year.2 

For commercial fleets, addressing distracted driving is critical to prioritize safety for their drivers and others on the road while also protecting their company's reputation and bottom line. Distracted driving impacts fleet operators in several ways:

  • Driver care and compensation
  • Vehicle damage
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Lawsuits
  • Company reputational damage

The 3 main types of distractions while driving

What is distracted driving? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road. There are three main types of driving distractions:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving3

Texting while driving is the most worrisome activity, as it spans all three types of driving distractions. According to the NHTSA, sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At fifty-five miles per hour, this is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.2

How to address distracted driving

Effectively mitigate distracted driving in your fleet with the three Ts: talk, train and track. These can help guide your distracted driving policy.

  1. Talk: Keep staff lines of communication open. 
  • Explain why safe driving is important to both the driver and the company 
  • Highlight the dangers of distracted driving
  • Underscore the human and monetary costs associated with accidents
  1. Train: Train drivers before they drive.
  • Emphasize your safety culture and underscore what you consider unacceptable driving practices
  • Offer a combination of both behind-the-wheel training and online training
  • Refresh training on an ongoing basis to address new risks and keep driving safety top-of-mind
  1. Track: Use technology to track data points that help combat distracted driving.
  • Gather visual evidence of driver behaviors
  • Make sure you have full visibility into driver status and road conditions
  • Carefully document accident circumstances

To gain driver buy-in, frame monitoring tools like GPS tracking or AI-powered dashcams as tools to promote the safety and well-being of drivers, rather than a punitive measure. With video evidence on their side, drivers can have peace of mind when dealing with false claims or a no-fault incident. Talking about these topics helps integrate safety and buy-in into the company culture. Once the conversation is in motion, the next step is implementing driver training and coaching to reinforce the importance of addressing distracted driving behaviors. 

By utilizing GPS tracking technology or AI-powered dashcams to gather visual information about what’s happening on the road and in the cab, fleet managers can gather insights to support safe operations.

Real-life story from a fleet manager

Wolf Line Construction, a multi-state fiber optics installer with 70 drivers and 61 vehicles, needed a better way to monitor risky driving behaviors across their spread-out operations. The company first installed GPS trackers, followed by front-facing and driver-facing cameras. The combined approach transformed their safety protocols.

“Before the dashcams and GPS units, we only had a cell phone policy and driving policy. Now, after the GPS trackers and dashcams were installed, a video monitor policy was rolled out. This touches base on the GPS unit, as well as the driver-facing and road-facing cameras, bringing in what the dashcam could be used for such as prioritizing safety, coaching on the harsh driving events, coaching on severity of the harsh driving events, looking for seatbelts, and the event of an accident. Part of the policy covers tampering or covering up either camera, as well. Everyone has to sign off on that if you're going to drive one of the company vehicles.”

-Dante Allen, Fleet Manager for Wolf Line Construction

Prior to implementing fleet tracking and dashcam technology, there was no way for the company to monitor driver actions or road conditions. With GPS tracking paired with video footage, Wolf Line can not only identify harsh driving behaviors but also use the tools to coach drivers.  

Wolf Line fleet managers now receive alerts if hard braking, hard acceleration or an accident occurs, along with video footage from both front-facing and driver-facing views. This allows managers to see what behaviors were taking place for a given incident and whether distracted driving played a role. If it did, they can use the video to help train drivers to improve driving protocols. 

Watch the complete conversation with Wolf Line Construction.

How you can use technology to help curb distracted driving

Address distracted driving with telematics and Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) solutions like: 

  • Fleet tracking: Build a foundation of safety data around driver behavior using GPS plot points, plus additional vehicle information and insights.
  • Road-facing dashcams: Get the full context around what the driver sees and what factors are contributing to their experience. 
  • Driver-facing dashcams: See surrounding circumstances of how the driver is operating the vehicle and what behaviors occur while driving. 
  • In-cab alerts: Notify drivers with an audio alert when distracted driving behaviors, drowsiness, phone calling and smoking are detected. Managers can review this data for customized coaching.
  • AI-powered data: Enable smart solutions that can alert you to events that require your immediate attention. AI analysis and classification of any events make it easier for fleet managers to determine what actions need to be taken quickly. 

In-cab video gives a holistic picture of driving events and can provide a dual view of the driver and the road. Video evidence can also be used to determine if disciplinary action is needed in the event of a serious driver infraction or can aid in accident investigations and in determinations of liability.

To learn more about how distracted driving impacts commercial fleets, watch our in depth webinar.

1 https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813443

2 https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving 

3 https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/distracted_driving/index.html#distraction-types 

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Safety, Data & Analytics, Training, Performance & Coaching, Team Management

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