The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Study: Commercial Fleet Drivers Distracted 8% of Total Driving Time

August 27, 2009

SmartDrive Systems 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 FMCSA, 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. The SmartDrive 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 in-vehicle video-based study evaluated video records for distractions that can't be quantified by non-video 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 two consecutive seconds, or having their hands engaged with something other than driving for more than three consecutive seconds. 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 study reviewed nearly 6,200 vehicle-years of data across nearly 25,000 drivers from 384 commercial fleets.

There is evidence that fleets can proactively mitigate the risks of driver distraction. As part of this study, SmartDrive continued to measure ongoing improvement for individual drivers over the initial five months following implementation of the SmartDrive Measured Safety Program, which enables fleet managers to proactively coach drivers using video-based data, scored and prioritized by the SmartDrive Expert Review. The results show significant reductions in key distractions:

  • 54 percent: smoking
  • 52 percent: maps or navigation
  • 52 percent: mobile phone- handheld
  • 51 percent: beverage
  • 44 percent: mobile phone - hands free
  • 40 percent: food
  • 30 percent: general distraction

"These recent studies demonstrate the importance of fleets taking proactive measures to minimize the risk of driver distraction in their operations," said Greg Drew, president and CEO of SmartDrive Systems. "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 DC, sponsored by the Obama administration and hosted by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. For more information on the summit, click here.

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