Olen Vanderleeden

Aegis Mobility's Distracted Driving Blog

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Olen Vanderleeden

Olen Vanderleeden

VP Sales and Business Development, Aegis Mobility

Aegis Mobility and CBC (Consolidated Buying Company) announced today a partnership to promote FleetSafer, Aegis Mobility’s distracted driving solution, to CBC’s SME (small and medium enterprise) and independent fleet operator members. 

Aegis/CBC News Release

This is an important win for Aegis because it provides an effective sales and marketing channel to small and mid-sized fleets. It’s also an important win for CBC’s members because of the potentially devastating impact that a distracted driving incident can have, both emotionally and financially, as eloquently communicated in CBCs marketing materials. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_crash-total.png

The reality is that smart phones and tablets are becoming an indispensible tool for many SME and independent fleet operators; however having those tools in vehicle also presents a significant business risk. Distraction from the use of smart phones while driving is a leading cause of accidents, which can have sizable costs from bent metal and injured workers.

But these accidents also come with the risk of liability and potentially significant judgments in cases where the smart phones can be shown to be a contributing factor to the accidents (for more information see the Aegis white paper on risk and liability). While even the largest of the Fortune 500 companies are affected by such events, the impact can be even greater for the SME, potentially putting companies out of business all together. FleetSafer provides a cost effective method for the SME to actively manage the use of smart phones and tablets and enforce company cell phone use policies while employees are driving on the job, and can provide a return on investment through avoided accidents.  

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I noticed another distracted driving tragedy in the news recently. University of Northern Colorado student Alexander Heit crashed his car as a result of being distracted by texting while driving and died of his injuries soon after. 

Included in the article was a photo of his iPhone displaying the last words he typed. His parents wanted the image shared as a reminder to others of the dangers of texting while driving.

The photo is an unfortunate association for Apple. While it could have easily been any phone, it made me wonder about how such an association might impact a company’s brand and how the handset companies will react.

Given increasing public awareness of the problem of distracted driving, I believe the first handset company to openly embrace the distracted driving issue and provide solutions as part of their operating system would elicit a positive reaction from consumers, particularly the parents of young drivers.

Imagine, for example, that as part of the set-up procedure for a new smartphone, the consumer is informed of the dangers of using that handset while driving and is offered the opportunity to enable a safe driving feature that automatically silences and disables the phone when driving.

Granted, some handset companies are taking steps to reduce distraction -- for example Siri Eyes Free and Motorola Smart Actions -- but I predict that we’ll see the major handset brands paying more and more attention to the issue of distracted driving to protect both their brand and their bottom line.

Story: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/final-text-crash-cuts-off-sentence/story-fnd134gw-1226618691883

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I just landed back in Vancouver today, fresh from participating in and presenting at the Employer Cell Phone Distracted Driving Seminar put on by the National Safety Council at the San Diego Convention Center yesterday. Being in the business of providing solutions to address the problem of distracted driving, I consider myself to be relatively well informed on the subject, but I came away from the conference having learned a lot. I was extremely impressed by the content, the quality of the presenters and the commitment and engagement of the attendees. I am thankful to have been a part of this important event. A few lasting impressions that the seminar had on me:

  • This can impact anyone. I think most people understand the risks of distracted driving, but research suggests that few people are willing to adjust their own behaviour. Maybe human nature is to think of the problem as happening to others?  Well, I had the opportunity to meet three people at the conference, people like me with families like mine, who shared their own tragedies related to distracted driving and who made me realize that this can impact anyone.
  • Bringing about change takes courage. I was extremely impressed by the examples of courage, both from the presenters and the participants in the audience, who were willing to be leaders in changing behaviours related to distracted driving, even though that change can often be met with resistance and reluctance. I use as example National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman, Deborah Hersman, who delivered the keynote address at the seminar and who imposed a complete ban on the use of cell phones for all NTSB employees in 2009, including herself. It makes it hard to argue that you can’t “afford” to be unreachable while driving when leaders like Chairman Hersman show that you can. Furthermore, Dave Teater of the NSC presented some compelling studies on productivity in companies who banned cell phone use in vehicles – it may just change your bias.
  • Distracted driving involves more than just cars. I was stunned to hear examples of distracted driving incidences in trains, planes and boats [PDF].
    And least expected:b2ap3_thumbnail_olen-cycleguy.jpg
  • Technology plays an important role in addressing the issue. Technology, specifically Aegis Mobility's FleetSafer® product line, was a visible part of the solution to addressing the issue of distracted driving as a complement to corporate safe driving policies and practices. Not only does the Aegis solution ensure compliance with safe driving policies, but by automatically detecting the driving state and silencing all alerts, messages and calls, the Aegis products make it easy for employees to comply with safe driving policies and eliminate both the temptation and anxiety associated with connected devices.

I was very proud to be representing a company that I feel is an important part of the solution and to be part of very thoughtful debate with remarkable people at the seminar. I want to congratulate all the speakers at the conference this week; you were all passionate and excellent and I learned something from each of you. Consider this my strong recommendation for anyone concerned about the costs, risks and liabilities associated with employee use of phones in vehicles while on the job to get out to the next NSC seminar on April 25th at the Long Beach Convention Center. For anyone that can’t make it I encourage you to spend some time with the wealth of resources on the topic of distracted driving provided by the NSC here.

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Pedestrian Killed By Distracted Officer

Posted by on in Uncategorized

I spotted this story in the news today, another incident of driver distraction taking a life.

'I'm done, I'm done. I'm sorry, I'm sorry,' Mountie wailed as pedestrian he struck was dying nearby

I quote from the article “[RCMP Constable] Luk made a spontaneous admission to him at the scene, saying, “High rate of speed ... Looked at MDT (mobile data terminal computer in front seat) ... Didn’t see anyone crossing the road.”

It wasn’t a cell phone in this case, it was a MDT (Mobile Device Terminal), but to me it is a sobering reminder for all of us that taking your eyes of the road for even a fleeting moment can be deadly.

According to distraction.gov, the official US government website for distracted driving:

“Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field, blindfolded.”

After reading this story today I was even more aware on my commute that despite these constant reminders of the dangers of distracted driving and the laws in my area against the use of hand held electronic devices while driving, I still see people texting while driving. 

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