Distracted driving is now a deadly epidemic in the U.S.
Preliminary data from the National Safety Council shows that that 40,200 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 – a 6 percent rise over 2015 totals and a staggering 14 percent increase in traffic deaths since 2014. A two-year jump like this has not been seen in 50 years.
Distracted driving is also incredibly expensive. The estimated cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage last year was $432.5 billion – a 12 percent increase from 2015.
Distraction makes every individual an inferior driver. But one technology and analytics company is focusing on distraction among commercial truck drivers in an effort to quantify driver distraction and provide insight on how we can make the highways safer.
SmartDrive Systems of San Diego, a driver risk management company that specializes in video-based driver-safety programs for commercial fleets, analyzed video and data gathered during more than 14.5 billion driving miles and found that distracted drivers are more likely than all other drivers to have a near collision, fail to stop at an intersection, and exceed the speed limit.
SmartDrive said its data “confirms the widely held assumption that mobile devices are the predominant cause of distracted driving.” In many cases, the company found that mobile device usage drastically increased the risk of a collision, running through a stop sign or red light, speed, and drift out of their lane.
Interestingly, seat belt usage is a key indicator of a driver’s risk. According to Slaven Sljivar, vice president of analytics at SmartDrive, “Distracted drivers don’t wear their seatbelt at a rate that is significantly higher than other drivers, which signals to a fleet the potential for future issues with that driver.”
“Distraction impacts more than safety costs,” Mr. Sljivar added. “In fact, distracted drivers consistently waste the most fuel, which is a direct hit to a fleet’s bottom line.”
According to SmartDrive, distracted driving results in a 6 percent reduction in MPG. This number increases to more than 8 percent when the distraction is caused by a mobile device.