Distracted driving has officially reached epidemic proportions. Phones are distracting drivers with deadly consequences, at an alarming rate. Almost everyone universally agrees on the need to curb distracted driving. Wireless carriers, driver safety organizations and app publishers each bring valuable contributions to the table. Changing user behavior is a massive undertaking, and it’s going to take strong collaboration from all sides to create meaningful change in how drivers interact with technology while driving.
And while there’s some real progress being made to hold individuals accountable and discourage them from distracted driving, I think we’re at risk of overlooking the institutional responsibility that businesses bear to ensure their drivers resist the temptation to use their phones behind the wheel. For example, there are an estimated 440,000 fleets on U.S. roadways today - accounting for more than 6 million vehicles. Add another 3 million vehicles if you include government-owned vehicles. These fleet drivers are just as susceptible to the temptation of distracted driving as private citizens. In some ways fleet drivers may be MORE susceptible, as they’re behind the wheel for extended periods, often driving the same routes repeatedly, and they rarely have others in the vehicle to hold them accountable and help them avoid distracted driving behaviors.
Distracted driving is catching up with fleet operators. Back in 2012, that precedent was set when Coca-Cola was hit with a $21M judgment for an accident caused by one of its drivers talking on the phone at the time of impact. What’s more, the driver was talking on a hands-free headset in accordance with company policy.
Fleet management software is a big category that addresses a variety of fleet manager concerns such as operational cost-effectiveness, vehicle maintenance, driver/workforce management, vehicle safety and compliance, and operational efficiency. There are numerous software solutions that address different aspects of these concerns - Fleetmatics, Telogis, Automile, Navistream, Fleet Commander are a few that come to mind. On the other hand, there are only a handful of solutions that address the problem of cell phone distracted driving for fleet managers. And while these software tools are well-intentioned, they are complicated to deploy and difficult to scale.
Fortunately for fleet operators, other steps can be taken to ensure driver safety and limit exposure to costly litigation. The first step fleet operators should take (if not already taken) is to create and enforce a fleet-wide policy on cell phone use. This establishes a behavioral standard that should be maintained by all company employees. The best cell phone policies cover the following areas in the infographic below.
Lastly, fleet operators should take the extra step of implementing a technology solution that measures and reduces distracted driving, ultimately driving down the frequency of collisions. When evaluating possible solutions to implement, start by eliminating solutions that include hardware - they’re expensive to deploy and difficult to implement. Today’s software-based distracted driving solutions are highly effective. Make sure to find one that achieves the following:
Provides accurate driving detection
Truly blocks phone usage
Navigation needs to be an exception
Has the ability to manage fleet divisions
Delivers reports on violations and period of inactivity
LifeSaver is a software-based distracted driving solution that delivers a comprehensive solution as described above. Today small fleets of up to 20 vehicles can use LifeSaver’s self-serve solution to improve fleet driver safety, reduce exposure to litigation and save money on insurance premiums. And for larger fleets, LifeSaver offers a premium solution to suit fleets with hundreds to thousands of vehicles with multiple safety officers and divisions.