Paul Jones, Vice President and General Manager at Lytx Europe

Driving distracted

Vice President and General Manager | Lytx Europe

Technology such as DriveCam® can help improve driver behaviour

Lorry driving is one of the most difficult professions in the world.  Drivers spend many hours on the road, logging millions of miles, to make sure freight is delivered on time and – most importantly – safely.

Unlike the majority of work environments, the road is a dangerous place.  In fact, in its most recent update in 2012, the World Health Organisation pushed ‘road injury’ to one of its global top ten causes of death – the only cause not originating from disease.

Department for Transport (DfT) data shows that over 1,700 people were killed and more than 180,000 were injured on UK roads in 2013.  But the fact is that the majority of these collisions, around 90%, were due to human error and could have been avoided.

A significant number of these collisions can be attributed to distracted driving.  DfT data from 2012 show that there were 80 fatal accidents and 450 serious accidents due to distractions to the driver.  Additionally, 17 fatal accidents and 67 serious accidents were attributed to mobile phone use.

Our research supports this but has also found that eating and drinking behind the wheel can have a similar effect, making drivers 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a collision (drivers using a mobile device are 4.7 times more likely to be involved in a collision).

The shocking reality is that many people underestimate or do not understand the risk associated with distracted driving, both to themselves and to other road users.  Recent RAC figures have shown that 12% of UK drivers don’t know that texting while driving is illegal and 21% do not realise it is illegal to check Facebook and Twitter while driving.

It has been illegal to use a hand-held mobile device while driving since 2003 but as Lytx data shows, many other types of distraction can still put drivers and pedestrians in danger.  Multi-tasking at the wheel takes the focus off driving, making it difficult for drivers to anticipate hazards and affecting their ability to control their vehicle safely.

Distractions take many forms.  They can be initiated by the driver or by an outside influence such as a passenger or an event taking place outside of the cab.  In-vehicle technology and entertainment is a common factor, but external distractions such as when a driver concentrates on an unimportant event – especially during the summer months when there are far more pedestrians at the roadside – seasonal events like these can also have an impact.

Most collisions are not due to a mechanical failure.  It is time that every driver recognised that distracted driving and driving behaviour can have serious consequences.  It’s not just about using a mobile device and driving, but about avoiding distractions and paying attention to the road.

To help improve safety, Lytx is focused on improving driver behaviour to ensure that commercial drivers get the best coaching available and have the necessary skills to avoid risky situations.

The good news is that we are better equipped than ever to address distracted driving and improve road safety.  For instance, our DriveCam® Programme utilises a dual-facing video event recorder in the cab that captures video, audio and telematics data during risky driving events, such as hard breaking, harsh acceleration or swerving, in unobtrusive and highly effective 12-second clips.

The video event recorder is triggered by risky manoeuvres or by the driver via a manual trigger, helping to protect drivers.  Risky events are reviewed by our trained analysts who upload risky events, exceptional behaviour and collisions to the DriveCam Online® cloud-based platform for review by fleet managers, screening out non-events such as potholes and taking away the laborious task of sifting through the video and data themselves.

The data, which is delivered direct to the client in a prioritised inbox and simple to use dashboard, is then used to highlight risky driving with drivers on a one-to-one basis, enabling clients to effectively coach them to prevent reoccurrence.

Such technology and analysis helps drivers to be safer on the roads, can exonerate drivers when they are not at fault, and encourages drivers to reach the peak of their profession.  There’s a great opportunity to utilise technology to advance careers, reward professional skill and increase safety to protect drivers, their company and others on the road.

 

Lytx Europe