TORRANCE, Calif. — While banning the use of handheld devices while driving, especially texting while driving, has been at the forefront of company fleet safety policies, there are other less recognized cognitive and physical distractions that continue to impact the safe operation of fleet vehicles.
In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that all drivers engage in secondary tasks 30 percent of the time while their vehicles are in motion.
NHTSA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that driver distractions were behind 65 percent of near-crashes and 80 percent of crashes. Research has shown that most crashes occurred within 3 seconds after the driver was distracted.
Cell-phone use and texting may be today’s biggest scourge in the transportation safety sector, but there are other common driver distractions that also substantially increase crash risks:
1. Eating Causes Driver Mistakes
Eating while driving is riskier than talking/listening to a handheld device, according to NHTSA. After reviewing a 2006 crash-risk analysis, NHTSA found that the extended glance length of eating while driving caused a 1.57:1 crash-risk ratio while talking/listening to a handheld device while driving caused a 1.29:1 crash-risk ratio.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently ruled the hours-of-service regulations for drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) will no longer be enforced as of July 1, 2013, meaning drivers with the ability to fold the passenger seat down, may be even more tempted to turn that workspace into a countertop for eating while driving.
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