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Risk Management

Are Your Distracted Driving Policies Effective?

Is your driver training program making a meaningful impact with the continued rise of auto claims costs? This Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we dive into the leading causes of accidents and the research-backed technologies that may be able to prevent them.

April 7, 2022

Both employers with fleets and their insurance providers are contending with increasing auto claims costs, leading organizations to reevaluate their driver training modules. Studies show moderate evidence that on-road or real-time instruction can improve driving performance, and combining this with educational intervention curriculum may be more effective at reducing crashes.

“Traditional mitigation efforts, such as driver training, are competing with the headwinds of high driver turnover,” said Vik Ramaswamy, Senior Risk Control Manager at Safety National. “Investing in autonomous technologies, such as emergency braking and forward collision warning systems, can provide a more reliable return on investment when used in conjunction with driver training by reducing frequency and severity of claims.”

Employers seeking effective change in their safe driver programs may find more success integrating their current training program with a more proactive, technological approach to addressing driving distractions.

Primary Cause of Crashes

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a two-year study on the chief causes of crashes across the U.S. 94% of the over two million crashes studied were associated with some form of driver error. Factors such as the environment, like icy roads, or vehicle conditions only accounted for 2% of crash causes. The most common errors found amongst drivers were recognition errors, broadly defined as driver’s inattention and internal and external distractions.

Accident Prevention Technology

Employers could consider purchasing vehicles with forward collision warning (FCW) and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) features. FCW systems provide drivers with visual, auditory and tactile alerts of impending collision. AEB systems, as the name would indicate, brake in response to an impending collision. A study indicates that these systems result in a 50% reduction of front to rear crash frequencies and 56% fewer driver injuries when used in conjunction. In the U.S., there are no regulations in place requiring vehicle manufacturers to include these features amongst their standard safety complements, such as seat belts or anti-lock brakes. Cost reduction associated with fewer and less severe claims activity could mean these premium features, especially in heavy trucks, pay for themselves.

Cell-Blocking Applications

The World Health Organization estimates that drivers handling a mobile device are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than when not. So despite their unpopularity, organizations should still consider implementing cell-blocker applications across all driver mobile devices during vehicle operation and retroactively check mobile phone records after a crash. Cell blockers are controversial due to their invasiveness and often require the participation of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. This program allows employers to install work-related systems on employees’ devices, but these applications could allay employee fears. Do the particular applications in consideration utilize excessive battery life? Are they agnostic across operating systems such as iOS or Android? Do they allow specific numbers to be dialed in emergencies? And can they be scheduled not to confound individual habits during personal driving time? All of these questions need to be addressed during the implementation phase of a BYOD program.