Distracted driving is being called a deadly epidemic, claiming 3,142 U.S. lives in 2019. Because of statistics like this, Congress designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month in 2010.
What is it?
Distracted driving is any activity that takes attention from driving, such as:
- Talking or texting on the phone
- Eating or drinking
- Applying makeup or shaving
- Reading a newspaper or book
- Watching a video
- Programming a GPS
Texting is the most disturbing distraction. Just the simple act of sending or reading a text forces you to take your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
The Myth of Multitasking
We all like to think we’re good at multitasking, but we’re not. In fact, studies show that multitasking is a myth. People can’t really divide their attention between multiple tasks at once and get more done. Experts estimate that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity when you multitask.
Attempting to multitask, whether behind the wheel or doing other things at work, impacts your short-term memory. It also leads to anxiety, causes more mistakes, makes it harder to take on new information, and drops your IQ an average of 10 points. Not qualities you want when someone is driving in your fleet. Research has found that listening to a cell phone conversation can decrease brain activity associated with driving by more than one-third. This can lead to safety performance issues, like the inability to react quickly in busy driving zones.
Stop Distracted Driving in Your Fleet
The best policy to prevent any of this from happening in your fleet is to treat every month like it’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Here are a few fleet management tactics to help you reduce distracted driving:
- Education and Implementation
Teach your team about distracted driving – what it is and how to avoid it. You may also want to implement a distracted driving policy for your fleet. Put it in writing and have them sign it. The National Safety Council has a sample distracted driving policy here.
- Protocol and Penalties
Once you have the policy in place, you’ll need to outline and communicate the repercussions if the policy protocols aren’t followed. Informing your drivers about both the expectations and possible penalties will help enforce the policy.
- Monitoring and Sharing
Using driver-facing dash cameras can help you keep tabs on your drivers’ behavior and nip distracted driving in the bud. Safety Track offers live streaming so you can see what your drivers are up to in real-time. Speak to your drivers as soon as possible after an incidence of distracted driving is found to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This encourages positive driver behavior and can prevent future accidents.