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Driver Study Demonstrates Effects Of Distraction On Road Safety

Smartdrive : 12 January, 2011  (Technical Article)
Specialist in commercial vehicle driver monitoring systems demonstrate that drivers distracted by using gadgets or consuming food have a significantly higher likelihood of being involved in an accident
Research by SmartDrive, a company that provides in-cab cameras in commercial vehicles, proves that drivers using mobile phones or other in-vehicle gadgets are more likely to be involved in a road traffic incident, either a full collision or a near miss. The study by the in-cab video safety specialists also shows that eating, drinking or smoking while driving should be avoided so that drivers can concentrate fully on the road ahead.


The study is based on SmartDrive Distracted Driver research and uses the world’s largest database of risky driving incidents. So far more than 34 million incidents have been recorded on in-vehicle video cameras by the SmartDrive Safety programme in the USA and UK.


The research also analyses what the driver was doing prior to the event. This is possible by examining the video footage captured by the cameras 15 seconds before the event. The SmartDrive driver safety auditors ranked the most common distractions as:

1. Operating a hand-held device, for example, texting on a mobile phone, using a satnav

2. Eating, drinking, smoking

3. Talking on a mobile phone.


The research also showed that new drivers that made up just 5 per cent of the survey, accounted for 33 per cent of all recorded distracted driving incidents. These new drivers were responsible for 57 per cent of all mobile phone incidents and 47 per cent of all operating hand-held device incidents captured on video.


"Our research shows that distracted drivers can be dangerous drivers – the correlation is clear. The Department for Transport (DfT) Think! Road Safety campaign highlights that drivers’ reaction times are 30 per cent worse when using a hand-held mobile phone than for driving under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit. All UK drivers know that it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone or similar device while driving. Our study supports the DfT’s own findings with clear video evidence,” says Steve Cowper, Managing Director, SmartDrive Systems Limited


"In our study, text messaging and talking on a mobile phone are clearly present in the majority of observed distracted-driving incidents involving a collision or near-collision. By tackling these types of distracted-driving behaviours early on, and training drivers to correct them before a serious event occurs, our SmartDrive Safety programme is having an immediate, positive impact on road safety," adds Steve Cowper.


The research data is derived from the SmartDrive Safety programme, which uses in-vehicle recorders to capture video, audio and vehicle data during sudden stops, swerves, collisions and other events. Through detailed video analysis, SmartDrive is able to quantify distractions such as cell phone usage, text messaging, use of maps or navigation devices, eating/drinking/smoking, and other actions. Event data is categorised and scored according to more than 50 safety observations. The research compares drivers in their first three weeks on the SmartDrive Safety programme with drivers who have benefited from more time in the programme.
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