SAN DIEGO (Aug. 19, 2010) — Fleet safety firm SmartDrive Systems' latest “Distracted Driving Index” (SDDI) indicates the incidence of distracted driving among new truck drivers in the program was 11.8 percent, a 9-percent increase in the distraction rate reported in the year's first quarter.
The San Diego-based company's index is a quarterly benchmark of commercial fleet driving distraction rates.
SmartDrive said it will be providing its findings at the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, scheduled for Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C. The firm's latest index, which summarizes the quarterly performance results of the SmartDrive safety program, is for the quarter ended June 30.
The SDDI provides fleet safety professionals with an ongoing measurement of causes and trends in distracted driving behaviors to help them put safer drivers on the road. The data is derived by SmartDrive Safety from its use of in-vehicle recorders to capture video, audio and vehicle data during sudden stops, swerves, collisions and other events. Data is categorized and scored according to more than 50 safety observations.
The SDDI data compares drivers in their first three weeks on the SmartDrive Safety program with drivers who have benefited from more time in the program.
The most recent study evaluated more than 3.51 million video events recorded in April, May and June involving 21,456 commercial drivers. Through detailed video analysis, SmartDrive said it was able to quantify distractions such as cell phone usage, text messaging, use of maps or navigation, eating/drinking/smoking, and other actions.
Data from the distracted driving index show:
- The overall distraction rate for new drivers was 11.8 percent in the second quarter—up from almost 10.8 percent in the previous quarter;
The five most common distractions and their changes from the first quarter were:
- Object in hand—3.9 percent, down 11 percent;
- Handheld mobile phone—1.9 percent, up 27 percent;
- Beverage—1.6 percent, up 7 percent;
- Smoking—1.3 percent, up 30 percent; and
- Operating handheld device—1.1 percent, up 38 percent.
In the latest SDDI, the distracted driving rate across long-term drivers in the SmartDrive safety program was 5.9 percent—50-percent lower than the rate for drivers new to the program in the second quarter. SmartDrive said this is evidence that companies are effectively working with drivers to reduce driving distractions.
The company said its index points to a trend across all companies: Among the 5 percent of new drivers with the most distractions, a distraction was observed 70 percent of the time when a risky driving event was recorded. This 5 percent of new drivers group accounted for 33 percent of all recorded distracted driving incidents, while 10 percent of the new drivers accounted for more than 56 percent of all risky driving events during the most recent quarter.
For the second quarter, SmartDrive expanded its SDDI report to include an analysis of near-collisions by all drivers, and the behaviors that led up to those events. By analyzing in-cab activity captured on video in the 15 seconds prior to those events, evaluators were able to observe several behaviors associated with the near-collisions. The four most common behaviors were drowsiness/falling asleep, running through a stoplight or stop sign, engaging in a lane change (merging or passing), and following at an unsafe distance.
Drowsiness was 23.2 times more likely to occur in near-collision events than in events which were not categorized as near collisions; and running stoplights or stop signs was 13.3 times more likely. These observed behaviors may well be contributing factors to near-collision events, and as such, represent areas on which companies may want to focus more attention and training, according to the company.
More information about SmartDrive is available on its website.