Distracted Driving Blog

Aegis Mobility's Distracted Driving Blog

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The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released its fifth annual "Traffic Safety Culture Index" this month and the messages related to distracted driving due to mobile device use are clear:

  • Nearly all drivers (95.7%) say that drivers text messaging or emailing are a very serious threat to their personal safety
  • 94.5 percent say that they personally consider it unacceptable for a driver to type a text or email while driving
  • 79.8 percent believe that most other people where they live consider it unacceptable to text while driving

However, contrasted against this near-universal belief that texting or emailing while driving is extremely dangerous:

  • More than 1 in four (26.6%) say that they have typed or sent a text message or email in the past 30 days while driving
  • More than 1 in three (34.7%) say they have read a text message or email while driving during this time

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This "do as I say, not as I do" paradigm is one of the reasons that the problem of distracted driving is difficult to solve through education and law enforcement alone. The statistics prove that, although people understand the dangers and face penalties, they continue the behaviours.

At Aegis, we share the objectives of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to value and pursue traffic safety. We are committed to helping reduce the estimated 8,000 deaths on American highways in 2011 due to mobile device use.

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Today is a somber day for anyone even remotely affiliated with efforts to improve US traffic safety.  The reason is because Ray Lahood, a true champion of highway safety, announced that he is leaving as the Secretary of Transportation as soon as his successor is found.

Mr. Lahood, a former school teacher and Republican congressman from Illinois, was confirmed by the US Senate on January 21, 2009.  His confirmation as Secretary of Transportation occurred exactly three weeks after I co-founded ZoomSafer, a technology company dedicated to developing software for mobile devices to prevent distracted driving.

With that backdrop in mind I'd like to share 5 observations on Mr. Lahood's tenure as Secretary of Transportation and what it meant to me as an innovator and entrepreneur.

  1. It's better to be lucky than good.  The old adage is especially true for an entrepreneur who is starting a new business.  And, in regards to ZoomSafer, we were very lucky that Secretary Lahood entered the picture and immediately engaged in a passionate and high-profile fight to end distracted driving.  He created a stage, not only for himself, but for many others to talk candidly about the incredible risks associated with mobile device use while driving.
  2. Shockingly, gridlock can be a good thing.  In the beginning of his tenure, LaHood worked closely with President Obama to stimulate the ailing economy through transportation construction projects including the development of high-speed rail systems.  But both efforts were stalemated when Republicans regained control of the House in the 2010.  In the face of congressional gridlock, Lahood focused his attention on improving highway safety, with an emphasis on preventing distracted driving.
  3. History repeats itself (maybe).  The "national epidemic" known as distracted driving was seen by Lahood as similar to other behaviors commonly exhibited by US motorists in years past.  Lahood made this point repeatedly when he drew comparisons to successful efforts to increase seat belt use in the 1970's.  If the nation could learn to wear seat belts, then certainly it could learn to put down the cell phone.  At least that's how the thinking went.
  4. Regulations matter.  As the top federal regulator of the transportation industry, Mr. Lahood was fighting to prevent distracted driving on both the consumer and commercial fronts.  On the consumer front, which consists of 200 million motorists, Mr. Lahood traveled to Detroit to encourage automakers to use their advertising budgets to help spread the word  and he worked with NHTSA to introduce guidelines for auto makers that would limit distractions associated with in-vehicle computer systems.  On the commercial front, Mr. Lahood worked with the FMCSA to enact stiff new rules prohibiting commercial drivers from hand-held use of a mobile device.
  5. No Silver Bullets.  Although much of Lahood's emphasis was on distracted driving legislation, regulation and education; he intuitively understood that cell phone use while driving was much more complicated than seat belt use or drunk driving.  As a result, he was always very clear in his opinion that technology -- whether from auto OEMs, wireless carriers, insurance carriers, or start-ups -- would play an important and complementary role in fostering safe and legal use of mobile devices while driving.

It goes without saying that i will miss Mr. Lahood, and i sincerely thank him for all that he did in the fight to prevent distracted driving.

Lahood

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This week's issue of Telematics Update explains how Sprint teamed up with Aegis Mobility to offer FleetSafer in an effort to help companies promote safe and legal use of mobile devices while employees are driving on the job.

So why does this partnership make sense?  Here five reasons:

  1. Use of a mobile device while driving causes an employee to be 23X more likely to crash and exposes his/her employer to significant risk and liability.
  2. In today's world, 80% of employers have documented policies with regard to employee use of mobile devices while driving -- but few, if any, have governance tools necessary to ensure compliance.
  3. Sprint's legacy with Nextel push-to-talk is deeply ingrained in commercial fleet operations and Sprint understands that technology will play a huge role in helping businesses foster compliance and minimize distracted driving risks.
  4. FleetSafer software supports a broad range of mobile device types including Android and BlackBerry smartphones and tablets and Kyocera feature phones which creates strong synergy with Sprint's business customer base.
  5. Sprint's ability to include FleetSafer on a customer's existing Sprint bill makes it easy for employers to say yes

Distracted driving is incredibly risky business for employees and employers alike.  Sprint, by joining forces with Aegis Mobility, is doing it's part to help businesses prevent distracted driving.

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The Auto Alliance, the trade association for 12 automakers, has launched a project to listen to consumers.  Their first Alliance Automotive Index has a couple useful insights for technology and distracted driving.

Finding #3 – Americans’ biggest concerns about driving are gas prices and distracted drivers, but there is a generation gap on which is more worrisome.

Finding #9 – Americans want to be connected in their cars.  Almost two-thirds of smartphone users (61%) check their phone every hour during the day, and while in their cars, 90% of smartphone users keep their phone in their hand, lap, cup holder or on the passenger’s seat.

You can obtain full downloadable report through their website, and below link:

http://www.autoalliance.org/auto-marketplace/auto-index

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The statement “Distracted Driving is the new DUI” has been used a number of times and now, at least in the province of Saskatchewan, it seems to be the actual case according to a recent article on the number of fatalities in the province for 2012.

Read it on Global News: Global Regina | Distracted drivers outnumber impaired drivers: a first for Saskatchewan 

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