Distracted Driving on the Rise, Says SmartDrive

Leading fleet safety company SmartDrive Systems has released its latest SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index, a quarterly benchmark of commercial fleet driving distraction rates.

For the quarter ending June 30, 2010, it says, the incidence of distracted driving among new drivers was 11.8%, a 9% increase in the distraction rate reported in Q1 2010.

The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index (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 SDDI data is derived from the SmartDrive Safety program, which uses in-vehicle recorders to capture video, audio and vehicle data during sudden stops, swerves, collisions and other events.

Event data is categorized and scored according to 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 study evaluated more than 3.51 million video events recorded in April, May and June 2010, involving 21,456 commercial drivers.

Through detailed video analysis, SmartDrive is able to quantify distractions such as cell phone usage, text messaging, use of maps or navigation, eating/drinking/smoking, and other actions.

For Q2, 2010, the SDDI shows that overall distraction rate for new drivers was 11.8% in Q2 2010, up from almost 10.8% in Q1 2010;

The five most common distractions, and their changes from Q1, were:

  • Object in Hand = 3.9%, down 11%
  • Handheld Mobile Phone = 1.9%, up 27%
  • Beverage = 1.6%, up 7%
  • Smoking = 1.3%, up 30%
  • Operating Handheld Device = 1.1%, up 38%

The distracted driving rate across long-term drivers in the SmartDrive Safety program in the latest SDDI was just 5.9%, 50% lower than the rate for drivers new to the program in Q2 2010,  evidence that companies are working with drivers to reduce driving distractions.

SmartDrive will also be providing its findings at the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, scheduled for Sept. 21, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

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Rakesh Raman