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How To Prevent Technological Distractions

Posted by Scott Rea on January 4, 2019 in the category Training, Safety Leadership

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If you’ve been in the transportation industry for a long time, you know as well as anyone that things have changed a lot. The days of paper logs, road maps, and fuzzy radio stations are over. The technological boom isn’t upon us; it’s already happened. Most of the technology in the transportation industry was invented to make our lives easier. Electronic logs are easier to track than paper logs. GPS is much quicker and more convenient than a huge map. Music streaming services have replaced the need for radio on long trips. Technology has made driving easier, but that’s not the entire story.

Is Technology All Good? Of Course Not

The most important job your drivers have is to drive defensively, and they can’t do that if they’re distracted. Most technology in the transportation industry has the trade-off of being a potential distraction to your drivers. Moreover, even technological advances created to make driving safer sometimes have an adverse effect due to risk homeostasis.

Many recent studies have looked into the extent that gizmos in new vehicles affect a driver’s attention, and the results weren’t pretty. Several studies have found that the technology in many cases made the driver more distracted and less safe at the wheel. This particular study applied only to cars, but there is no question that the problem extends to trucks and buses as well.

Four Rules To Distracted-Free Driving

Technology will only make your drivers safer to a certain extent. Lane departure warnings are good safeguards, but won’t force your drivers to look around and check their mirrors every five to eight seconds. Safe driving is about human behavior because people cause accidents. The four rules discussed below will help bring awareness to a nationwide problem that can easily be avoided.

1. Know how everything works before you start driving

This might be reading the manual or being trained on all the technology in the truck as part of orientation. The last thing you want is a driver agonizing over ELDs while they are driving.

2. Know when it is a good time to use it

Maybe the most important part of avoiding distracted driving is knowing when not to touch anything. Adjust the temperature of the cabin while you’re parked for example, instead of mid-trip. Set up a planned rest break on the GPS in advance. And never, ever use your phone while you’re driving!

3. If something isn’t working right, just ignore it

We’ve all had it happen at one time or another. The radio isn’t coming in the way it’s supposed to. Maybe the GPS is on the fritz and keeps telling you to drive in circles. Either way, you can’t fix it and pay attention to the road at the same time. If you have to fix something, just as you would with a mechanical part of the truck, pull over. If it’s not a major issue, just ignore it. It’s not as important as driving safely.

4. Only use technology you need

If you just had satellite radio installed in your truck, awesome. But that’s not a necessary part of your trip. It may make your trip more fun, but it won’t make it safer if it’s your focus while driving.

Address Distracted Driving Issues Immediately

We’ve seen dozens of in-cab videos of drivers triggering the recording device knowing they were caught being distracted. They know better, but we’re humans. Humans like checking their phone or getting the radio station right because it provides a little hit of dopamine. We know we shouldn’t do something but the little reward feels good. And we’re a professional, we can get away with it, right? Out of 300 little distractions, there will be 29 minor accidents and one major accident. So share with your drivers that they’re playing the lottery every time they’re distracted. The risk isn’t worth it.

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