SmartDrive Systems releases 2010 Distracted Driving Index

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SmartDrive Systems, a provider of fleet safety and operational efficiency, on Tuesday, April 19, released its 2010 SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index, a look at commercial fleet distracted driving rates during the past year. The 2010 report shows that the top 5 percent of drivers with the most driving distractions were distracted 67 percent of the time during which a risky driving maneuver was observed. That’s nearly six times more often than the rest of the drivers.

The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index summarizes the 2010 performance of commercial drivers observed during a benchmark period prior to starting the SmartDrive Safety program. The study is intended to provide fleet safety professionals with an ongoing measurement of causes and trends in distracted driving behaviors to help them put safer drivers on the road.

SDDI data is compiled using in-vehicle recorders that capture video, audio and vehicle data during sudden stops, swerves, collisions and other risky driving maneuvers. Events are categorized and scored according to 50-plus safety observations. The study evaluated more than 13.8 million video events recorded over the course of 2010, involving 34,466 commercial drivers.

Through review by company analysts, SmartDrive says it is able to quantify distractions such as cell phone usage, text messaging, use of maps or navigation, doing paperwork and other actions. The percentages reflect how often a distraction was observed when a risky driving maneuver was recorded.

The overall 2010 distraction rate was 9.7 percent of the time risky driving maneuvers were observed. The nine most common distractions observed in conjunction with a risky driving maneuver were: Object in hand, 44.5 percent; talking on a handheld mobile phone, 13.4 percent; beverage, 12.7 percent; food, 10.1 percent; smoking, 9.9 percent; operating a handheld device, 9.1 percent; talking/listening mobile phone (hands-free), 5.2 percent; manifest, map or navigation, 1.0 percent; and grooming/personal hygiene, 0.6 percent.

SmartDrive says two distractions in particular are particularly risky and more common among a small percentage of the benchmark drivers – using a handheld mobile phone and operating a handheld device. In both instances, just 5 percent of the drivers accounted for the majority of events involving those devices – 57 percent of all mobile phone incidents captured and 52 percent of all operating-handheld-device incidents.

As an indication that training and focused coaching has a positive impact, the overall distracted driving rate across longer-term drivers in the SmartDrive Safety program in the 2010 SDDI was just 6.2 percent, 36.1 percent lower than the rate for the benchmark drivers.