SmartDrive study quantifies commercial driver distraction

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SmartDrive, a provider of fleet safety and operational efficiency systems, today, Aug. 26, announced results of a large-scale study of commercial fleets to quantify driver distraction and identify the root causes, providing fleet managers with an action plan for improving safety.

According to a recent study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, key distracted driving behaviors increase the risk of collisions by as much as 23 times, reinforcing the importance of focusing on driver distractions to minimize collisions. SmartDrive says the study investigated more than 50 types of driver distractions, and determined that commercial drivers are distracted an average of 8 percent of active driving time. Through the use of SmartDrive, however, those fleets were able to slash these risks by 50 percent or more, the company says.

SmartDrive says the in-vehicle video-based study evaluated video records for distractions that can’t be quantified by nonvideo approaches, such as cell phone usage, texting, use of maps or navigation, eating/drinking/smoking or any other distraction resulting in drivers taking their eyes off the road for more than 2 consecutive seconds, or having their hands engaged with something other than driving for more than 3 consecutive seconds.

SmartDrive says the study determined that commercial fleet drivers are distracted 8 percent of total measured driving time, with a range from 1.1 percent to 19.9 percent. The company says the study reviewed nearly 6,200 vehicle-years of data across nearly 25,000 drivers from 384 commercial fleets.

SmartDrive says there is evidence that fleets can mitigate the risks of driver distraction proactively. The company says that as part of this study, it continued to measure ongoing improvement for individual drivers over the initial five months following implementation of its SmartDrive Measured Safety Program, which enables fleet managers to proactively coach drivers using video-based data, scored and prioritized by the SmartDrive Expert Review.

SmartDrive says the results show significant reductions in key distractions: smoking, 54 percent; maps or navigation, 52 percent; mobile phone/handheld, 52 percent; beverage, 51 percent; mobile phone/hands-free, 44 percent; food, 40 percent; and general distraction, 30 percent.

“These recent studies demonstrate the importance of fleets taking proactive measures to minimize the risk of driver distraction in their operations,” says Greg Drew, president and chief executive officer of SmartDrive Systems, based in San Diego. “Fortunately, it is possible for fleets to realize significant reductions in specific behaviors. The effort spent can have a dramatic impact on collisions, saving lives and money.”

SmartDrive will be participating in the upcoming Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Obama administration and hosted by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. For more information on the summit, click here.