Distracted driving is when the Driver is doing another activity while driving that diverts their attention from driving. Distracted driving behaviour matters more than ever. It is dangerous and unsafe because it increases the risk of accidents. And it is prevalent with most drivers indulging in some form of distracted driving. Drivers use their cell phones while driving to talk or text, use a navigation app, eat while driving, talk to co-passengers or look sideways.
As per the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are 3 types of distracted driving:
a) Visual: taking your eyes off the road
b) Manual: taking your hands off the steering wheel
c) Cognitive: taking your mind off driving
While each of the above driving behaviours is risky, we often engage in a distracted driving activity that involves a mix of all three risk behaviours. For example, checking your phone while driving to read a message or scroll social media will involve a combination of all three. Done at a high speed of 60 km/hr for even a short 6 seconds is equivalent to driving blind folded for 100 meters on the road. In the US alone, about 3000 fatalities are reported each year due to Distracted Driving.
While most countries have laws prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving, enforcement is difficult.
Technology offers some solutions to Distracted Driving. Most cars have Bluetooth Infotainment systems which Drivers can use for handsfree calling. The auto industry is abandoning infotainment systems with complicated menu options that increase visual and manual distraction. Infotainment systems now have simple displays that work with voice activated commands.
Several phones have features to set automatic Do not disturb when one is driving. Yet most phone users are unaware of that or don’t want to miss important calls or messages while driving.
Driving Behavior monitoring Apps such as AutoBeacon help quantify Distracted Driving events for drivers using their Smartphone sensors. And encourage Drivers to reduce Risky driving behaviors via driving scores and nudges. In commercial fleets, driver-oriented camera video feeds into AI systems that automatically highlight distractions while driving.
It is up to us, driver and passenger alike, to reduce the risk of distraction while driving. Drivers should be on handsfree or connected to the Bluetooth infotainment system before starting. Avoid taking calls while driving as much as possible. Even a handsfree call is a cognitive distraction and reduces reaction time to events. Plan the journey and have the route map started before driving instead of trying to enter the destination location while driving.
The Driver should stay focused on the road and avoid conversations in the car even on casual road trips with family and friends. If you are a co-passenger, speak up if the driver is using the phone while driving.
Distracted driving affects the safety of all and it is time for us to take collective action to prevent it.
About AutoBeacon Driving Behavior Monitoring App
AutoBeacon is an advanced Smartphone-based Driving Behavior Monitoring solution that encourages Drivers to drive in a Safe and Economical manner. AutoBeacon logs each journey and highlights Risky Driving behavior including Overspeeding, Sudden Braking and Distracted Driving. App features personalized insights and gamified leaderboards based Safe Driving Scores in order to engage drivers and promote Safety.