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by Driving Dynamics

3 min read

An Unexpected View on Distracted Driving

dangers of distracted drivingApril is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. To commemorate this annual campaign, let’s strive to reach an all-time high this month in the number of drivers distracted at any single moment.

Wait, Huh? What in the world? OK, I’ve taken some literary license with the introduction but, hopefully, I got your attention and provided a clue that we’re going to look at things from an unexpected view. Of course, I don’t really want the number of distracted drivers to go up this month, or ever. But stay with me, there is a point to this—and it has to do with detouring from the status quo and using a bit of reverse psychology to help lower crashes related to distracted driving.

During the past decade, a collective approach for reducing crashes has been essentially to scold or persistently urge drivers, to the point of annoyance, about why they should not drive while distracted. In other words: nag, nag, and nag. Now, nagging to effect change has been a go-to method used throughout history by parents, spouses, the press and government regulators. And as crashes caused by distracted driving have reached epidemic levels, fleet management has also now become a prolific practitioner of nag-o-nomics, if you will, as a tool to deter distracting behaviors by their drivers.

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We serve up tons of statistics to quantify the dangers, present well-cited articles written by safety pros on the evils of distracted driving, tell real-life horror stories designed to scare ’em straight, and, in some cases dangle the threat of job-related penalties for getting caught while driving distracted. All of this, yet here we still are. It doesn’t seem to be working so well, does it?

Instead of going straight down that same old road, let’s make a left turn. In other words: stop being a nag about the wrong, risky or dangerous habits in which your drivers may be engaging. In this new paradigm, your drivers are not the problem; it’s all those “other people” driving distracted, with whom they must share the road, which has you so worried. These other people are thoughtless, careless and inconsiderate. They take too many unnecessary chances and can’t be trusted to do the right thing and their actions are endangering your drivers.

To give you an idea of what you’re up against, at any given moment more than 660,000 drivers are actively distracted by use of cell phones (not yours of course), and this one statistic is just the tip of the iceberg. And now that it’s clear your drivers are part of the solution and not willful participants, you can rely on them to help mitigate this huge problem.

While we can’t control the “other driver’s” actions, each person in your fleet can be empowered to stay alert to these common traits shared by those distracted types and be ready to steer clear of anyone that may be placing them in harm’s way:

  • Traveling significantly faster or slower than the speed limit or flow of traffic
  • Needlessly changing speeds
  • Stopping longer than necessary at red lights or stop signs
  • Not maintaining lane position
  • Drifting or swerving from lane
  • Braking suddenly in reaction to normal traffic stops
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Following too closely
  • Seat dancing (to the music)
  • Tilting head down instead of looking ahead

Next, based on this vigilance and monitoring, encourage your drivers to share relevant anecdotal details they’ve observed which may resonant in meaningful ways with the rest of the fleet. This peer-to-peer sharing of powerful safety messages and experiences is a potent and effective approach for collective revelation and learning—that’s likely better received with an open mind than one that’s perceived as just more nagging by management.

Go ahead. Try an unexpected view toward combating distracted driving. It may be the thing that gets your drivers’ attention regarding this very serious issue, changes attitudes and helps you to better ensure their safety and well-being behind the wheel.

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Driving Dynamics

Written by Driving Dynamics

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