Distracted driving continues to be one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents in the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2015 alone, 3,477 were killed and 391,000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted driving. This roughly translates to nearly 10 deaths and 1,071 injuries per day. The alarming statistics are the reason behind the tightening of laws and policies to limit what drivers can do while behind the wheel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that many states have enacted laws to prevent the use of mobile devices. Collectively, they rank #5 on the list of the most common causes of distracted driving, which we identified in an earlier article here on Arrive Alive.
There are also states that have invested in steps to raise awareness about the dangers of the habit. A good example is the Oregon House Bill 2597, which will take effect on January 1, 2018. Keizer Times says that this law not only makes it illegal for drivers to use electronic devices while on the road, it will also make first-time offenders take a distracted driving course.
The state also developed an app that keeps track of how often mobile phones are being used while driving. The fewer times they use their phones, the higher points they earn. Drivers can have friendly competition with each other, as this app automatically transmits their scores to an online leaderboard.
Furthermore, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate will take effect in December 2017. The bill requires fleet operators, bus drivers, and/or commercial interstate truckers to install the device to every vehicle under their care. An ELD automates the logging of Record of Duty Status so drivers will no longer have to keep track of it manually. Fleetmatics explains that the system may be operated through mobile devices to allow drivers to track their progress relatively hassle-free. By logging into the app before they start driving, they are able to focus on the road, as the program automatically manages their hours. The government hopes that this will in turn reduce the number of accidents caused or involving truck drivers on the road.
Additionally, Fleet Financials mentioned that the data generated can be used by company owners to improve operations. This also covers additional safety measures to ensure that their drivers – as well as other people on the road – will remain safe.
Devices with advanced sensors like ELDs are able to keep track of vehicle status as well. Because there’s always the chance that a driver may get distracted if something in the vehicle suddenly stops working, monitoring the state of various vehicle parts could prove vital. Realistically speaking, not every driver and fleet owner has the knowledge of a mechanic. Scheduled maintenance may not be enough at times, since there are numerous factors on the road that could affect a vehicle unexpectedly. But by reading information gathered by the device frequently, it will be easier to pre-empt if the vehicle should be brought to the repair shop for repairs.
Moreover, there are a number of other technologies, which are being integrated into vehicle systems to reduce distractions. Some examples are heads-up displays that project maps into the windshield so the driver’s attention remains firmly on the road, while seeing navigation options at the same time.
But while there are a number of policies and innovations that have been put into place to prevent distracted driving, you – as the driver – are still ultimately responsible for making sure that everyone gets to their destinations safely. As much as possible, try to eliminate anything and everything that can lead to you taking your eyes off the road, so you won’t be at risk of causing an accident.
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