In our constantly plugged-in world, driving poses significant risks for everyone on the road, especially for those who drive for a living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, truck drivers—only a portion of all commercial drivers—accounted for the most on-the-job fatalities of any profession in the United States. Distracted or inattentive driving played a role in many of these cases, whether committed by the truck drivers or by other drivers on the road.
Additionally, from 2011 to 2018, the average insurance penalties for distracted driving increased nearly 10,000%. States across the country are also increasingly implementing more stringent punishments for distracted driving.
What’s clear from the data: Costs associated with distracted-driving accidents are on the rise for fleet lines. But are the right actions being taken to reduce the accidents—and the costs?
“While it may be tempting to say the solution is as easy as telling drivers to put their phones down or risk losing their jobs, research has shown the addictiveness of technology, especially our smartphones, is powerful. Among other staggering statistics, 66% of U.S. adults have ‘nomophobia,’ or the fear of being without a cellphone. When you consider these deep-seated emotions, it’s no wonder that simply telling people to ignore their phones while driving doesn’t work,” says Sue Spradley, CEO of Motion Intelligence, a leading producer of distracted-driving-prevention technology solutions. “Additionally, we see fleets facing driver shortages and struggling with any restrictions that cause drivers to leave the company.”
By following these four guidelines, your fleet can save lives, reduce crash-related costs, and access better-quality insurance plans at a lower premium for your fleet.
1. Know Your Baseline
The first step is to correctly identify the status quo. Determine and examine the fleet’s current accident rate and enumerate how much these accidents cost the fleet each year. An analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data revealed that, on average, crashes that result in property damage cost $63,000, those with injuries cost $438,000, and those that result in fatalities cost more than $10 million.
Knowing how much money your fleet spends on these accidents can highlight why investing time and resources into safety development is worthwhile. By calculating these costs, you can see how much money your fleets can potentially retain each year with proper safety measures.
2. Create a Mobile Device Policy
While a policy alone is not always a deterrent, having a clear mobile device or cell phone policy in place helps set expectations for driver behavior on the job and ensures drivers understand the punishments they will face if they do not adhere to safe driving practices. When drafting your policy, you must communicate with your drivers. Allow drivers to ask questions and make suggestions.
You may realize the first draft of your policy needs to be revised to eliminate confusion and to meet the specific work conditions of your fleet. Once everyone understands the terms and comes to an agreement, it is up to you to uphold the policy moving forward. This article provides a few examples of policies to help jumpstart your policy creation.
3. Talk to Your Drivers About a Shift in Mobile Device Culture
As noted above, the majority of U.S. adults feel that they must stay in touch with others with their phones at all times. Also, the ready availability of mobile entertainment makes it even harder to keep phones and tablets put away or used only for hands-free calling and navigation apps.
Discussing our cultural addiction to cell phones and mobile devices goes hand-in-hand with developing an effective policy. This part of the conversation, however, should focus less on the guidelines and penalties and more on the attitudes your employees have toward their mobile devices.
4. Incorporate Adaptable Technological Solutions
Technological solutions can serve as a preventative measure to ensure drivers are not distracted and are safely engaging with their devices. Sometimes, a tool to assist in changing behavior and one that effectively monitors activity is necessary to correct distracted driving. The right apps and management systems can inform you on how your fleet’s safety is improving and show areas where greater improvement is needed, informing policy adjustments and improving your fleet’s bottom line.
Applications, such as the Evvy app, and its Motion IQ dashboard for integrated monitoring and reporting from Motion Intelligence, are becoming increasingly prevalent. The Motion Intelligence solution provides fleet managers the ability to tailor functionality for driver specificity and flexibility, so you don’t have to resort to a “no phones and no connectivity” policy for everyone, but can determine when that is a necessity.
“Technology is too often the source of the problem when it comes to distracted driving,” says C.J. Meurell, Motion Intelligence co-founder and CRO. “We know that it must become part of the solution. Our work with fleet managers has shown that, when used properly, technology can be a valuable and safe tool.”
Using the Evvy app, fleet managers can select which apps drivers have access to on their phones while they are driving. For example, you could allow your drivers to use a GPS app to direct them to their destinations. Additionally, the Evvy app allows you to monitor your fleet in real time. And unlike other technologies, Evvy is tamper-proof. With its patented rogue device detection, Evvy notifies a fleet manager when a device that does not have the app installed is detected in the vehicle.
A Well-Integrated Safety Plan
By following the above guidelines, you can craft and implement an effective safety plan that leans on the resources available to you. As more fleets begin to work toward a safe driving culture, we can expect to see significant improvements in roadway safety.
Call CJ Meurell at 510.676.5970 or email at cjmeurell [at] motionintelligence [dot] com to learn more about Motion Intelligence as an option for your business.