Using a cell phone or any other handheld device while driving diverts attention from the road and puts drivers, passengers and bystanders in danger. So why do fleets still provide their drivers with handheld devices?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) categorizes any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road as distracted driving. This is further broken down as there are three types of distracted driving:
Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
Visual: taking your eyes off the road
Cognitive: taking your mind off the road
Because fleet drivers are constantly on the road, they often must check in with dispatch, look up directions, read messages, and a slew of other tasks that are completed with a smartphone or tablet. This form of distracted driving is the most dangerous of all as each requires visual, manual and cognitive attention.
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In 2012 alone, 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the United States.
Many drivers may feel that they are able to drive perfectly fine on the road even while managing a handheld device, but that is simply not the case. When drivers look down to read a text message or email, they take their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. That may not seem like much, but when traveling at 55mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded!
These statistics show why fleet managers should consider banning the use of handheld devices while behind the wheel.
Even with a policy in place, it’s impossible to track whether a driver is using a smartphone or tablet once they leave the office.
Fortunately, there are more effective measures that will improve safety and ensure that drivers do not have access to any devices on the road, all while getting optimized routing to their destination.
Hands-free fleet management devices, such as Fleet Director, promote safety and compliance with state and local laws regarding the use of handheld devices. This is accomplished by using Teletrac’s innovative GPS navigation and two-way messaging technology.
Once drivers hit the road, Fleet Director’s on-board navigation system provides automated, turn-by-turn verbal driving directions, which eliminates the need to constantly look down and make sure they are on the correct path.
The two-way messaging system allows drivers to quickly update managers on their job status, and Fleet Director enables users to send outbound messages to a single driver, subfleet, or every vehicle in the entire fleet. Once a vehicle is in transit, the messaging system does not allow drivers to send messages in order to ensure that distracted driving is limited.
Most importantly, fleet managers must constantly reinforce that drivers are not allowed to use handheld devices while behind the wheel. By telling them why these devices are banned, showing them examples, and providing solutions, fleet managers can create a much safer fleet.