By Mike Antich

The headline is based on a lyric written by the legendary rock band, The Doors; however, it's spot-on in describing the remedy to the greatest problem facing today's business drivers - distracted driving. A key culprit is technology.

Most of us are electronically tethered to our offices, clients, and loved ones via a host of smart phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). A growing number of business people are finding their dependence on wireless communication, such as texting, has reached a point of almost considered an addiction. Terms, such as "CrackBerry" have entered everyday conversation without requiring an explanation as to what is meant by the term. Texting is becoming a growing problem with business drivers. In one survey, an alarming 19 percent of respondents reported they sent text messages while driving.

Incompatible Activities

The popularity of texting has skyrocketed over the past four years. For the first time, the number of monthly text messages sent exceeded 100 billion in December 2008, an 11-fold increase in three years. As technology evolves and becomes more ingrained in our business activities, so do the number of ways employees use cell phones while driving.

However, texting and driving are not compatible activities. Studies found drivers take their eyes off the road for about five seconds when texting. Another study by Car and Driver magazine found texting while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. Drivers become so absorbed in a text message, their ability to concentrate on driving is impaired. Data shows a 2,200-percent increase in crash risk.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study that found those who texted while driving were 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. As a result of this reality, hundreds of companies have already banned employees from using cell phones while driving, according to the National Safety Council. Some drivers ignore these bans, but do so at their own peril.

Multi-Tasking While Driving

Companies across the nation report an increase in preventable accidents by employee drivers. The root cause is driver distraction. A contributing factor to these preventable accidents is the increased workload of company drivers.

Multi-tasking while driving has become common and is a major factor in driver distraction. Drivers are multi-tasking because they are required to do more in the same allotted time. Drivers use "windshield time" to talk on the phone, catch-up on e-mails, scan documents while driving to meetings, eat when running behind schedule, or apply makeup during the morning commute.

Although the cell phone continues to be the number-one source of driver distraction, text messaging is a growing factor. It is not uncommon to see drivers resting a PDA or smart phone on top of the steering wheel while using their thumbs to type a text message. A driver talking on a cell phone hopefully will be watching the road, but someone responding to a text message is staring at his or her hands.

Parting Advice

Drivers engaged in texting while driving spend about 400-percent more time taking their eyes off the road and are 70-percent less likely to stay in their lane, according to an Australian study.

My advice to all business drivers comes from the late Jim Morrison: Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel!

Let me know what you think.

mike.antich@bobit.com

 

Author

Mike Antich
Mike Antich

Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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