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Drivers whose focus shifts while on the road are the ones who put others most at risk. So how does your organisation deal with driver distraction? 

According to a recent study conducted at Monash University, most drivers worldwide are distracted by everything other than operating their car every 96 seconds (or about 45% of the time).

This number is quite disturbing for companies that depend on their fleet as a core business function, especially considering the hundreds of hours commercial drivers spend on our roads every year.

Let’s look at what causes drivers to become distracted, the hazards they bring, and how we can strive to lessen the amount of distraction experienced by our drivers. This way, we can assist commercial operators in understanding and addressing this common problem.

Types of distractions

A distraction can be defined as anything that causes a driver to take his eyes off the road or lose complete focus on their driving activity. The most common distraction while driving a heavy vehicle in New Zealand today is mobile phones (no surprises there). This includes texting or checking out social media platforms while driving, as well as talking over the phone. The following are some of the most common types of distractions:

  • Eating food or drinking
  • Changing radio settings
  • Reaching into the rear seat for something
  • Working on hair or applying makeup

The consequences of being distracted while driving

Did you know that if you look away from the road for only 4-5 seconds while driving at 100 km/h, you’d be driving blind for the length of an entire football field? Or that talking on a cell phone while driving raises the chance of an accident by up to four times?

When it comes to the risks of driving distracted, the most severe consequence is the possibility of killing or badly hurting yourself or someone else on the road. In the case of a heavy rigid vehicle, the risk can almost double. It not only involves the lives of the driver and surrounding vehicles but also hundreds and thousands of dollar-worth of goods. 

Despite the severity of the consequences, road users don’t often consider distracted driving dangerous simply because it doesn’t happen every day. However, the results show something else. 

According to another research study conducted in New Zealand, distracted driving is responsible for 1 out of every 10 fatal crashes, with 14% of all crashes happening because of a distracted driver.

Other than the physical danger, driver distraction can lead to a variety of other problems, such as:

  • Severe and expensive property damage,
  • An increase in insurance costs, and
  • The risk of hurting your company’s brand.

Furthermore, owing to the size, weight, and time it takes for a heavy vehicle to slow down or stop, far worse consequences exist than a conventional car crash. Hence, owing to such dire events, we must work as a community to eliminate distracted driving, specifically focusing on distractive driving habits of commercial, heavy rigid vehicle drivers.

Tips to reduce distracted driving 

Keeping phones in Do Not Disturb (DND) mode

Reaching for your phone to check for a new message or taking a call is the most common type of driver distraction. Thus, controlling the urge to do so is critical to avoiding distracted driving. If a driver is unaware that communications are coming in, they’re more likely to wait until they get to their destination before checking their phone.

Every business should have a strict no-distraction-driving policy

According to a leading magazine, 3 out of 4 companies in New Zealand claim to have a distracted driving policy in place but fail to execute it effectively among their employees. To guarantee that drivers follow your policy, a strict code must be established, and everyone informed of the consequences if they do not follow through. Additionally, provide employees with the resources they need to cover their duties safely on the road.

Implement a centralised control system for driver behaviour

While introducing a distracted driving policy can be simple and easy, implementing it can be a different ballgame altogether, as it can be quite challenging when drivers are forced to self-manage their behaviours. Managers may find it hard to know whether drivers are sticking to their company policies or if their driving habits negatively impact their company.

Rather than riding alongside drivers, using driver monitoring technology may help track driver behaviour, retrain undesired behaviours, and promote road safety across truck and heavy vehicle fleets.

Using Roadtrain’s class 2 driver training program to promote safe driving habits

At Roadtrain, we’re committed to assisting drivers and organisations in taking a hands-on approach to risk mitigation and continuous driver training and development.

As a comprehensive solution incorporating cutting-edge technology and access to driver behaviour experts, our class 2 driver training program can help you gain driving patterns, alert your drivers to plausible on-road threats, and identify areas of operation that require improvement.

Our clients have witnessed a substantial reduction in accidents and close calls, an increase in better driver performance, a decrease in corporate expenses, and an increase in fleet efficiency after deploying our Roadtrain system.

When you see how much you can gain from our class 2 driver training program, you’ll wish you had taken it sooner. Reach out to us today to learn more about our driver’s training program and other services that’ll benefit your company.