This blog post was updated on February 4, 2021.
Today’s technology in cars and trucks focuses on easier and safer driving. We have lane departure warnings, backup cameras, and automated emergency brakes. All of these technologies are helpful and well-intentioned, but the number of accidents hasn’t really gone down. Why?
As helpful as this new safety equipment is, modern technology also provides more things to distract drivers. And it is driver behavior that truly determines how safe the roads will be. In many cases, drivers can now take parts of driving for granted - their blind spots, backing up, steering straight in bad weather - because they feel that the safety technology will cover them. They can text or mess with picking a song on their phone instead of paying attention to these details that could easily cause an accident.
More Technology = Taking More Risks
New technology plays into the concept of risk homeostasis. Risk homeostasis, from a high level, is the phenomenon that when people feel safer, they start to take more risks. Thus, their safety doesn’t increase at all. For a deeper understanding, let’s break down each part.
- Risk is the possibility of suffering harm or loss. Gambling, driving too fast, texting while driving, and skydiving are all forms of risk taking. You face the possibility of physical harm or loss, whether it’s money, your wellbeing, or your life.
- Homeostasis is a scientific and mathematical term that describes something’s tendency to stay relatively stable. You can think of it as something’s tending to stay in one spot rather than change.
You put them together, and risk homeostasis refers to a person’s tendency to have the same amount of risk for an accident, regardless of the situation.
For most people, more technology to reduce risk just means they’re going to take more risk themselves. They will drive faster. They will change lanes without looking. They will text and drive. They will do everything in their power, whether they realize it or not, to keep their risk of a crash the same.
All of the high-tech toys in your vehicles might just be something to preoccupy your drivers. In and of themselves, they do nothing to reduce accidents.
The Solution? Teaching Safe Behaviors
We’re not saying this so you disable all of your driver’s back-up cameras and lane warning signals. Those are helpful tools when used properly. We’re just pointing out that drivers, especially professional drivers, need to understand how important it is to develop good driving habits until they become automatic behaviors. They need to always remain on alert and aware of everything going on around them. Technology is helpful when used right, but it shouldn’t become what drivers rely upon.
Truck drivers especially also need to remain vigilant about driving defensively and watching civilian drivers. Just because you are driving as safe as you can doesn’t mean everybody else will. Normal drivers will probably continue to do many of the same things - entertaining themselves with their phones or speeding so they can shave a few minutes off their travel time. It’s more important than ever that truck drivers be on the lookout for those people whose eyes or hands are not where they’re supposed to be.
Invest in Something That Will Make a Difference
Use technology wisely and cautiously. There is nothing wrong with using a backup camera to make it into the dock easier or a GPS to find the closest rest stop. There are times and places for technology. But professional drivers should know those times and places. On the road, there is no replacement for safe, professional driving.
If you want to actually make a difference on your accident numbers, invest in defensive driving training such as LLLC or A-Fleet. These are professionally-made courses that are guaranteed to make an impact on your drivers, prevent accidents, and save lives.