As a fleet-based organization, it’s your duty to educate your drivers on how to cease dangerous driving activities and encourage them to practice safe driving every time they enter a vehicle.
Every day, nine people die in motor vehicle crashes that involve a distracted driver. There are many forms of distracted driving, including eating, drinking, grooming, etc. But, the most dangerous and common distraction for all drivers is their smart phones, whether it’s texting, calling or opening an app. Estimates from a government study concluded that on any given day, more than 800,000 vehicles are operated by drivers using cell phones—a statistic that spotlights the danger. Although these devices are now enabled to be voice activated and have the hands-free capabilities through high-tech vehicles, they still serve as a distraction, which ultimately impacts the safety of your fleet drivers.
We must work together to over-communicate the dangers of distracted driving and the responsibilities of drivers to keep themselves and others safe.
To help you and your drivers address this issue head on, Driving Dynamics provided a PASS ALONG communication that you can share with your fleets in our mutual fight against distracted driving. It includes information about the different types of distractions and a copy of our "Be Dynamic Behind The Wheel, Not Distracted" pledge sheet. To use this, please copy and paste the contents below the line into an email to your employees.
EMAIL SUBJECT LINE: A Call to Action Against All Types of Distracted Driving
In one year, it was reported that more than 5,000 people were killed and nearly a half million people were injured in crashes involving some form of distracted driving. You may think about distracted driving as a single issue, however, it is a complex multi-faceted problem. By knowing that there are varying and even overlapping types of distracted driving—visual, manual and cognitive, you will be better prepared to act on all fronts against this threat to everyone’s safety.
Distraction Type: Manual
Manual distractions are ones that may readily come to mind when thinking about distracted driving. This type causes you to take one or both hands off the steering wheel, potentially resulting in reduced or complete loss of control of your vehicle. Examples include eating or drinking, controlling the audio system, grooming or sending a text message.
Consider this: While holding a drink in one hand, how well would you be able to safely maneuver around a truck in front of you that suddenly drops its cargo in your path? Scenarios like this occur more often than you think. So why even take the risk? A safe driver is one who is always in control of their vehicle.
Distraction Type: Visual
Visual distractions are those which require you to take your eyes off the road—even for the briefest moment. Examples include checking your GPS, looking down at your instrument panel or glancing at a text message. This type of distraction is often the worst because your attention leaves the road and you don’t see what is taking place outside of your vehicle. There is one other very specific form of visual distraction which many drivers may overlook, and it deserves a closer look—physically compensating for vehicle blind spots.
Eliminate Distraction Caused by Blind Spots with Proper Mirror Adjustment
Blind spots are caused when mirrors are not properly adjusted. The good news is for most vehicles on the road today, it is possible to adjust mirrors to eliminate blind spots. This will enable you to fully use both your focal and peripheral vision to create an unobstructed 360-degree view.
To better understand how this will benefit you, think about what is involved when you need to change lanes. By not having mirrors properly set, a distraction is created that blocks your view, forcing you to physically turn your head and even shoulders to check behind you for an opening in traffic. In doing this you lose sight of the road ahead, therefore what is occurring in front of your vehicle is now out of view eliminating your ability to react. This is an avoidable situation which can put you in a position to cause a rear-end collisions or worse.
Distraction Type: Cognitive
Cognitive distractions can be sneaky because you may not even be aware you are being distracted. They take your mind [mind’s eye] off what you should be doing—staying focused on the road and your surroundings. This type of distraction prevents you from processing important, real-time information which can prevent a crash. One prevalent example of this is cell phone use. Research has proven that even while using a hands-free device the level of distraction remains high. Your mind becomes more focused on absorbing information from the conversation which dramatically reduces the amount of information the brain can process to safely operate a vehicle.
This unwitting loss of critical information is referred to as “Inattention Blindness.” Simply explained, it is a person’s inability to perceive things which are in plain sight. This phenomenon often arises when engaged in a conversation on the phone.
Consider this: Have you ever driven off and then arrived at your destination with little recall of how you got there? Perhaps during this ride, you were deep in thought about an important meeting or engaged in a serious phone conversation—all while somehow managing to navigate through traffic. At that moment you arrived, were you startled by the tragedy that could have occurred because of these distractions? Clearly your mind’s eye was distracted and not actively focused on traffic and road conditions.
Researchers have concluded that people have a limited attention capacity. Your mind prioritizes what it can concentrate on, and too often safe driving details move to the bottom of the list. By getting engrossed in a phone conversation, many of the critical safety details you need to process while driving start fading away from your mind’s eye.
Consider this: A child running out into the street chasing a ball, a car stopped in the middle of traffic to pick up a passenger or a traffic light turning red. Cognitive distractions that result in “Inattention Blindness” can turn these common occurrences into tragic consequences. All because your full mental and perhaps physical attention was not focused on the act of driving.
By having a better understanding of the different types of distracted driving and how you can be affected by each, we hope it will encourage you to take a stand to “Be Dynamic Behind the Wheel, Not Distracted, by downloading and completing the pledge sheet provided by Driving Dynamics, a fleet driver safety company. Stay alert, adjust your mirrors for a 360-degree view, watch out for those distracted drivers and arrive at your destination safely.
Please contact me if you have any comments or question.
[Fleet/Safety Administration Name]