Cogosense Blog

Cogosense's Driver Behaviour Blog

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Employee Distracted Driving: Understanding Your Business Risk and Liability

When employees crash while using a mobile device, employers are faced with significant risk and liability.

And when it comes to plaintiffs' filing distracted driving lawsuits against employers, the landscape is changing rapidly.

That's precisely why we released today the second edition of our white paper entitled, Employee Distracted Driving: Understanding Your Business Risk and Liability. 

Originally published in 2010, this new version of the paper was developed in collaboration with a national law firm specialized in defending corporate clients in complex litigation matters.  The release of the paper coincides with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and provides employers with a fresh examination of a broad range of distracted driving issues including:

  • Scientific research and statistics
  • Changing regulatory and legislative environments
  • Recent litigation and verdicts
  • Industry standards and best practices for risk management
  • Solutions to promote compliance with documented policy

The paper is available for free download and we encourage employers everywhere to take a look and see how the world of distracted driving risk management is changing.

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Center For Disease Control (CDC) Update On Mobile Device Use While Driving

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is one of the pre-eminent organizations worldwide dedicated to creating the expertise, information and tools that people and communities need to protect their health.

The CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of March 15, 2013 (Vol. 62/No. 10) features an update on distracted driving with the key findings that:

  • Road traffic crashes are a global public health problem, contributing to an estimated 1.3M deaths annually
  • Mobile device use while driving has become an increasing concern
  • Within the United States, approximately 2 out of every 3 drivers admit to talking on their cell phones while driving and nearly 1/3 admit to texting or emailing while driving in the last 30 days

The CDC recommends that emerging vehicle and mobile communication technologies be studied to assess their role in reducing crashes related to distracted driving.

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The 3rd Annual Survey on Work Place Distracted Driving is Now Open!

Check it out! The 3rd Annual Survey on Work Place Distracted Driving is now open

The survey takes 3 minutes to complete and is designed to gather feedback from commercial fleet operators and professional risk managers to gauge corporate perspectives and attitudes toward employee use of mobile devices while driving on the job.  

Just like last year (and the year before) the survey is being promoted to key constituents in the commercial fleet industry.  So, if that sounds like you, then we'd be grateful for your participation.

Then on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, we will publish the results -- so everyone can see for themselves how corporate attitudes toward employee distracted driving are changing.

Thanks in advance for your participation.

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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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Lessons Learned At the NSC's Employer Cell Phone Distracted Driving Seminar

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].
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  • 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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