How Choosing Built-for-Trucking Technology Can Help Fight Distracted Driving

May 4, 2020

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Ding! A new notification on your cell phone. What are the odds that your eyes go straight to the screen, even if you’re behind the wheel? Actually, chances are high. We are used to being constantly connected. You may be tempted to answer that text message, but keep in mind that it only takes a few seconds of distraction to cause an accident. Distractions are truly dangerous when you are at the wheel. After observing heavy-vehicle drivers over 9.5 million kilometers, researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that text messaging made the risk of crash or near miss 23.2 times greater.

You may think that the worst only happens to others or that distractions are too brief to affect your driving. Think again! Canadian carrier Bison set out to debunk the myth that you can drive while distracted and still drive safely. Using their driver training simulator, they put three of their professional drivers to the test to see how they dealt with multiple distractions, including answering a text, receiving a phone call, and reaching for a snack. Watch the video and you’ll see for yourself that each of these distractions compromised the drivers’ focus on the road, and in many instances, almost caused serious accidents.

The High Cost of Using Your Phone

Did you know that every Canadian province and territory, except for Nunavut, has laws governing cell phone use while driving? Not to mention that there are much harsher penalties, including jail terms, if you endanger other people.

Alberta Ontario Quebec United States
In Alberta, the penalty for distracted driving is1

  • A $287 fine
  • 3 demerit points
Ontario has some of the harshest penalties for distracted driving2

First offense:

  • Fine of up to $1,000
  • 3 demerit points
  • Three-day license suspension

Third offense:

  • Fine of up to $3,000
  • 6 demerit points
  • 30-day license suspension
In Quebec, a first offense will cost3

  • $300 to $600
  • 5 demerit points
  • License suspensions for repeat offenders
In the United States, using a cell phone while driving is punishable by fines of

  • up to $2,750 for professional drivers
  • up to $11,000 for motor carriers that allow or require their drivers to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving4

What Happens in the Event of an Accident?

It’s no secret that distracted driving is one of the most common causes of collisions. In addition to lives lost, injuries suffered, and collateral damage, the costs incurred can be tremendous. The cost of a fatal accident can reach 10.9 million dollars[5].

If a driver uses a telematics solution installed on a cell phone or an unsecured tablet while driving, in the event of an accident, several liability issues will arise. Is it the driver’s fault? Is it the employer’s fault, for requiring drivers to use unsafe tools to do their job? To protect drivers, have them avoid problems and ensure their safety, it is best to be proactive by providing them with a telematics device built for trucking that, unlike a cell phone, does not allow for distracting functions while driving.

Which Device to Use for Electronic Logbooks?

For professional drivers, using technology in the cabs of their trucks is all in a day’s work. Tablets and other mobile devices are used to log hours of service, track workflows, assist with navigation and handle communications with dispatchers and office personnel. How can you make sure that these devices don’t distract drivers when they are at the wheel?

Among other things, make sure that

  • The device automatically limits access to features while driving. Only relevant applications, such as navigation or driving behavior coaching, should remain accessible.
  • Social applications that are a source of distraction, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, should be locked out.
  • The device is set up in a safe, compliant manner, i.e. on a fixed support that is accessible without hindering driver visibility.

By supplying your drivers with safe, adapted work tools such as telematics devices designed for the trucking industry, you help eliminate sources of distracted driving. You avoid having drivers use their personal cell phones to perform work-related tasks, thus reducing the temptation and risk of distractions. Keeping with the mindset of protecting them and avoiding accidents, your company policy should require that drivers stow their cell phones in the glove compartment before setting off in your vehicles.

With the benefits devices designed for trucking provide, you can ensure the safety of your drivers and all road users. By equipping your drivers with the right tools, you are doing all you can to prevent distracted driving.

Sources:
[1] https://www.alberta.ca/distracted-driving.aspx#toc-0

[2]https://www.ontario.ca/page/distracted-driving

[3] https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/road-safety/behaviours/distractions/what-the-laws-says/

[4] https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/driver-safety/distracted-driving

[5] https://ontruck.org/distracted-driving-growing-risk-costly-for-fleets/

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