Driven To Distraction
Roadway Magazine|October 2017

Louise Cole looks at the growing and potentially fatal problem of driver distraction and how fleets can use video analytics to stop risky behaviours which can lead to cataclysmic collisions.

Louise Cole

A recent RHA press release stated that 200 motorists a day have been caught using their mobiles while driving in the month since the penalties for the offence doubled to six points and a £200 fine.

In 2015, 541 people were killed while driving for work. The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) blames 95% of road collisions on human error, and an estimated 20% are caused by mobile phone use. That means approximately 109 people died because a driver was using their mobile phone. But there are ways fleets can prevent professional drivers succumbing to distraction – and they must do it now.

So far many drivers seem undeterred by the higher penalties. This disregard seems to go hand in hand with a disregard for potential collisions, given that recent surveys by RAC and road safety groups show a similar pattern: high levels of risk awareness coupled with high levels of non-compliance. The truth? About one third of drivers know it’s dangerous and do it anyway, with one in a hundred using their phone routinely at the wheel (RAC Foundation).

The RHA release states that ‘technology doesn’t catch drivers driving poorly or those on their phones’. In some respects, the RHA’s position is quite right. Public technology does not compensate for falling police numbers, nor does the telemetry which fleets have used for the past 20 years to inform driver training work efficiently to combat distraction. However, in other respects, it is quite wrong.

Not only can technology help fleet operators to proactively identify and eliminate driver distraction, it may be their only realistic chance to do so. Smart Drive Systems, which specialises in capturing and analysing video footage of commercial fleets for driver risk management, says that technology can be the answer to eliminating driver distraction if fleets have the correct data, and act upon it.

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