Cogosense Blog

Cogosense's Driver Behaviour Blog

Technology Helping Technology

In the March 6 Issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 309, No.9), authors Jeffrey H. Cohen, MD and Motao Zhu, MD, PhD put forth, in their article Keeping an Eye on Distracted Driving, the argument that: 

  • Fatalities associated with distracted driving due to mobile device use continue to increase
  • Education and legislation are failing to solve the problem despite concerted effort and expense

Education, alone, rarely leads to behavioural change. The authors note, "As individuals continue to use their cell phones nearly continuously throughout the day, for both business and pleasure, they will continue to be tempted to use this technology - if available - while driving."

Similarly, legislation that cannot be practically implemented by law enforcement personnel is unlikely to be a deterrent. The authors observe, "Simply banning handheld cell phone use while driving, without providing law enforcement with an easy method of detecting such use, is akin to banning drunk driving without using breathalyzers or sobriety tests to detect violators." The difficulties of detecting unlawful use and the scarcity of police resources make it unlikely that law enforcement will place a high priority on apprehending violators of legislative bans.

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The authors' central thesis is that "Cell phone use while driving is a problem that has been created by technology, and solving this problem will require technological solutions."

Authors Cohen and Zhu conclude, "Failure to act in this manner [failure to implement technology solutions] will result in the continued loss of thousands of lives each year to this preventable public safety hazard. In the era of smartphones and smart cars, it is time to be smarter about keeping them apart from one another."

At Aegis, we could not agree more and have created the industry's broadest portfolio of solutions to automatically detect when mobile devices are in a driving state and to implement policy controls which ensure the safe and legal use of such devices while driving.

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How Employers Can Use Big Data To Prevent Distracted Driving

Does your company have a policy that prohibits employees from using their mobile phone while driving on the job?  If so, then you’re normal.  In fact, 80% of employers today have adopted some type of policy pertaining to distracted driving.

Does your company have the ability to measure whether or not your employee drivers are complying with the documented policy?   If not, then you’re normal.  In fact, the vast majority of companies with distracted driving policies have zero ability to empirically measure compliance.

This, of course, is a serious business problem because “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

The good news is that there are now simple tools that companies can use to modify employee driving behaviors.  Products such as DriveCam, SmartDrive, Geotab, Inthinc and others provide real time feedback to drivers and automatically collect the data necessary to measure and manage driver compliance with company policy.

Furthermore, a new and innovative service called FleetSafer Vision has been developed to empirically measure employee use of mobile devices while driving.  The inexpensive cloud-based risk management service correlates driving data from telematics systems and with mobile device usage data from carrier billing systems, email servers and other sources to measure cell phone use while driving.

So, why wouldn’t a company simply tell employees not to use their phones while driving?  It’s a fair question, but unfortunately, when it comes to cell phone use while driving “telling someone to stop” is not sufficient to change his or her behavior.

Case in point.  Check out the results of this recent FleetSafer Vision audit conducted on behalf of a large public utility company with a strong safety culture and a well-documented policy prohibiting use of mobile devices while driving.  The audit itself was based on three weeks of driving data and device usage data, and the results quite sobering.  94% of the sample drivers violated the policy at least once during the three weeks and 43% of all trips had at least one cell phone distraction. 

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By simply studying the data that already exists, employers can see not only macro compliance trends but they can also spot very granular risks pertaining to specific employees, or even specific trips. Below is a visual representation of a single trip – from point A to B – including, for example, the near constant cell phone use that occurred during the trip.

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In summary, if you are an employer concerned about risk and liability associated with employee use of mobile devices while driving, then you can create a policy and (A) hope that your employees comply, or (B) know fro certain whether they comply.  All you have to do is look at the big data.

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The problem of "Do as I say, not as I do".

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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Distracted Driving Reaches an Inflection Point in 2013

A market tipping point occurs when the severity of a problem and the efficacy of solutions intersect. The year 2013 will provide such a tipping point for distracted driving.

The severity of the distracted driving problem due to mobile device use has been understood for many years by research organizations, educational institutions and governmental regulators. From the Department of Transport's ban on texting and hand-held cellphone use by commercial drivers at the end of November, 2011 to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Report of March, 2012 to the 39 states that ban texting while driving and the growing list of states that ban handheld cell phone use while driving, the societal awareness of the problem is clear.
 
In aggregate, the cost due to accidents resulting from mobile device use while driving is estimated to exceed 50 billion dollars annually. Even more tragic, than the economic impact, is the fact that thousands of lives are lost each year due to mobile device related accidents.
 
So, if the problem has been well understood for some time and the economic cost is so high, why hasn't the situation improved?
 
It is not for lack of effort on the part of lawmakers but enforcing laws is very challenging. Additionally, while individuals believe that it is unsafe for others to use mobile devices while driving, they continue to use their own devices while driving. When you combine this deeply ingrained psychology with the fact that our mobile devices continue to increase in capability and usefulness, it's easy to see why the situation has become a true epidemic.  
 
Having outlined the severity of the problem, what has changed on the landscape of solutions to make 2013 such an important year?
 
There are three primary factors that drive the tipping point in 2013:
 
1. Distracted driving solutions have matured
  • Until mid-2012, there were no effective software-only solutions that provided the accuracy and battery life required for an excellent end-user experience. Technology has evolved to solve those problems and the end-user experience is now, in the words of one of our large customers, "flawless".
2. Distracted driving solutions have broadened
  • Large enterprise fleets have diverse needs with respect to vehicles, devices, work conditions and appropriate policy. Prior to 2012, there were "point solutions" available but no single portfolio that could address the full range of enterprise needs optimally. Such broad portfolios now exist.
3. Leading enterprise organizations are taking action
  • Executives, concerned about their employees' safety and their company's societal obligations, have said "enough is enough". The safety risks are clear and the ROI (Return on Investment) is compelling. The first large (multi-10Ks units) deployments are underway.
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At Aegis, we are excited to have been a market pioneer in addressing the distracted driving issue. Our mission is to make our roads safer and to support the success of our customers. We look forward to significantly advancing both of those goals in 2013!
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Smartphones vs. Telematics: How to Balance Safety and Productivity

This guest post was authored by Matthew Curtis, Software Alliance Manager at TomTom Business Solutions and was originally published here.

The advantages of mobile devices and smartphones to companies and mobile workers are significant. Technicians can instantly receive Work Orders, search for inventory, communicate via voice, email and text and even navigate with turn-by-turn directions.

Mobile apps such as vWorkApp offer elegant solutions to leverage mobile technologies such as credit card processing, signature capture, barcode scanning and customer forms to enhance the productivity of mobile workers.  Even more impressive is how vWorkApp is integrated with TomTom’s telematics and connected navigation solution to help guard against the significant risks associated with employee use of smartphones while driving on the job.

What smartphones cannot do is replace the value of a hard wired black box. By permanently installing a black box into the power and ignition wires of a vehicle, businesses are assured of knowing where their vehicles are and what they’re doing. TomTom’s LINK 510 (black box) contains a GPS, accelerometer, cellular and Bluetooth connectivity. Every minute the vehicle is running, the device is sending location and driver behavior data to the cloud.

So what can a telematics black box do that a smartphone can’t? Its tamper proof! Workers can’t turn it off, throw it out the window, run it out of batteries, leave it on the kitchen counter or talk and text on it. A modern black box also monitors when a vehicle is idling (wasting fuel) and when a secondary motor (PTO) is in use (great for monitoring unauthorized use). Notification that your vehicle is moving when the engine is not running can help you track down your vehicle in the event it is unexpectedly towed or stolen.

More importantly, a smartphone can’t monitor driver behavior, which is a significant driver of operational costs. Imagine sitting in the passenger seat of all your drivers. Every time they sped significantly over the posted limit, took a sharp turn, slammed on their brakes or sat in the driveway with the engine idling for 15 minutes; you were there? Do you think they would driver smarter? It’s your fuel, insurance, maintenance costs and reputation on the line, not your drivers.

The LINK 510 provides these types of driver behavior to the business owner, and with TomTom’s line of connected navigation devices, Active Driver Feedback is presented in real-time to the driver using the PRO series navigation devices. Notification via visual and audible alerts are presented to the driver and back office in real-time, as well as through reports on both the device and TomTom’s WEBFLEET interface.

Still want to stay connected with your workers while they’re driving? No problem, our PRO series navigation devices enable you to dispatch Work Orders directly to your driver, enabling them to accept and navigate to the job site without breaking any laws or stopping their vehicle. They can also pair their smartphones with their navigation device for safe and legal communication.

Conclusion: Smartphones are amazing tools, but should not be used for Over The Road driver and vehicle management. There is clearly a place for smartphones in the daily operation of your mobile workforce, but that use case is not driving.

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