March 28, 2023

You’re barreling down the highway at 65, 70, or 75 mph (Or maybe 80 mph in Montana. Even possibly 85 in large parts of rural Texas) and your cell phone rings. What do you do? Standard practice for many professional drivers today is to tap the Bluetooth device in their ear and say “Hello.”

Since the 2012 federal law that outlawed the use of hand-held phones while vehicles are on a roadway, it has been illegal for CDL holders to do anything more than that. But there’s increasing pressure on drivers to not even go that far; to just keep driving and return the call later, once they’ve pulled off the road.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and we’re going to talk about how to combat the distraction of technology while driving. In recent years, the distraction of technology has become a significant issue for drivers worldwide. With the increasing prevalence of smartphones, GPS devices, and other digital gadgets, it’s now more important than ever to understand how to combat these distractions and ensure a safe driving experience for everyone on the road. Let’s explore solutions, such as video-based safety solutions, among others.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents and fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020 alone, approximately 3,142 people lost their lives due to distracted driving. This alarming statistic highlights the urgency of addressing the issue and adopting safer habits behind the wheel.

There’s growing recognition that drivers can easily become distracted by a lot more than just talking on a hand-held cell phone. Smartphones have made sending a text, an email, a Facebook post, a Tweet, or some other kind of social media post amazingly quick and easy. But doing any of those things, by definition, distracts a driver from his or her primary task. Looking up or dialing a number into a cell phone, or even using voice command technology to place a call is a distraction.

For that matter, checking routing or entering an address in a GPS navigation system can do the same thing. So, too, can fiddling with a truck’s onboard technologies, be they system performance dashboards, CB radios, or even a simple radio or sound system. Focusing, even for only a second or two, on anything other than the road ahead is distracted driving. That’s why, when in the cab, drivers should keep one thing in mind: Keep driving.

We recognize that may sound a bit odd coming from a company that manufactures and supports a number of advanced technologies that make the job of a professional driver better and safer and the operation of commercial vehicles more efficient and profitable. But we know that even good tools can be misused. And when misused they can become dangerous.

So we encourage drivers whose vehicles are equipped with our technologies and technologies like ours to discipline themselves to use those tools responsibly and judiciously, and only at times when their trucks are off the road or, at the very least, stopped. We also encourage our corporate clients to train and re-train their drivers not only in the effective but also in the safe use of valuable technologies.

Strategies for Combating Technological Distractions

To combat the distraction of technology while driving, consider implementing the following strategies:

1. Make a Commitment to Focus on Driving

Before getting behind the wheel, make a conscious decision to prioritize driving and avoid engaging with any technological devices. This commitment to focusing on the road will help you resist the temptation to check your phone or interact with other devices while driving.

2. Set Up Your Devices Before Hitting the Road

Program your GPS device or smartphone with your destination before starting your journey. By doing so, you’ll minimize the need to interact with your devices while driving, allowing you to concentrate on the road and the traffic around you.

3. Activate “Do Not Disturb” Mode on Your Smartphone

Most smartphones have a “Do Not Disturb” or “Driving Mode” feature that silences incoming calls, messages, and notifications. Activating this setting can help eliminate the temptation to glance at your phone when a notification pops up.

4. Use Voice-Activated Features Responsibly

While voice-activated features can help reduce physical interaction with devices, they can still be a distraction. Use these features responsibly, and avoid engaging in complex or lengthy conversations that could divert your attention from the road.

5. Keep Devices Out of Reach

Placing your devices out of reach can help minimize distractions. By keeping your smartphone in a glove compartment or a bag on the backseat, you’ll be less likely to reach for it while driving.

6. Encourage Passengers to Support Your Efforts

Share your commitment to distraction-free driving with your passengers, and ask for their support. They can help by managing devices, navigating, or taking phone calls for you while you’re behind the wheel.

7. Take Breaks on Long Drives

If you’re on a long journey, schedule regular breaks to check messages, make calls, or adjust your GPS settings. This allows you to address any pressing concerns without putting yourself or others at risk.

8. Educate Yourself on Local Laws

Familiarize yourself with the distracted driving laws in your area. Many regions have strict regulations prohibiting the use of handheld devices while driving, and being aware of these rules can serve as an additional motivation to avoid distractions.

9. Set a Positive Example for Others

By demonstrating responsible driving habits, you can help set a positive example for friends, family members, and other drivers. Encourage those around you to adopt similar practices and create a safer driving environment for everyone.

10. Utilize Video-Based Safety Technology

Omnitracs SmartDrive is a safety and productivity platform that uses video-based technology to provide insights into driving behaviors, such as harsh braking or sudden acceleration, that can increase the risk of accidents.

The system uses a camera mounted in the cab of the truck to capture video footage of the driver and the road ahead. This footage is then analyzed by the SmartDrive platform to identify risky driving behaviors, which are flagged for review by fleet managers.

In addition to providing real-time feedback to drivers about their driving behavior, SmartDrive also offers coaching and training resources to help drivers improve their skills. The platform also includes features such as driver scoring and gamification, which can be used to incentivize safe driving behaviors. Omnitracs SmartDrive is designed to help fleets improve safety, reduce accidents, and increase productivity by identifying and addressing risky driving behaviors.

Stay Safe and Focused on the Road

Combating the distraction of technology while driving is essential to ensure the safety of all road users. By adopting the strategies mentioned above and making a conscious effort to stay focused, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidents caused by distractions.

Remember, every time you get behind the wheel, your actions can have a profound impact on your life and the lives of others. Commit to driving responsibly, and encourage others to do the same. Together, we can create safer roads for everyone.

If you want to learn more about our technology applications or our video-based safety solutions, contact us today.

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