Distracted driver using cellphone

Don’t let distracted driving CHOMP at your fleet budget

Monday, August 2, 2021

By: Chris Villella, Collision & Fleet Safety

There's more to what's on the surface when it comes to understanding the risks phone distractions present to fleets. Leveraging multiple sources can help keep your head above water when measuring your risks and potential associated costs.

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Element Fleet's collision and safety experts analyze accident data of nearly one million vehicles and consume crash-related data across various industry and governmental sources. The risk of phone distractions to fleets is worthy of raising the red flag. 

If you're asking, "How could this be? Reports published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on distracted driving show phones as only a minor issue, stating between 0.89% and 1.25% of accidents involve phone distractions!" Then, you need to look beneath the surface to understand the full picture. 

A data deep dive by the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the widespread use of cell phone involvement in crashes is close to 25%. 

The striking difference may be due to how data is reported and factors that lead to underreporting cell phone involvement in crashes including:  

  • Police relying on drivers admitting to cell phone use; 
  • States inconsistently coding cell phone use; 
  • Cell phone use may not be fully investigated if a more obvious violation such as excessive speeding or reckless driving is present; 
  • If a post-crash investigation uncovers cell phone use, crash reports to NHTSA are not always updated; and 
  • It is difficult to align cell phone records with the precise moment* of a crash.  

So, you're wondering, "how does distracted driving impact fleets?" The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) found distracted driving costs employers more than four times as much as other driver behaviors exhibited on the job, and the only behavior that costs employers more on the job than off the job – ouch, that bites!

Still not taking the bait? Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) is the leading provider of mobile telematics and is used by several major insurance carriers to calculate premium rates. CMT collected and examined data of millions of trips and billions of miles finding the rate of phone distractions involved in crashes to be 19%.

Our own safety and collision experts determined, based on this and cost information published by NETS, cell phone distraction can cost fleets anywhere from $45 to $125 per vehicle per month depending on their loss experience. Costs like that can take quite a bite out of a fleet budget!  

Contact Element’s collision and safety experts about how to measure cell phone distraction risks and costs before you have to tell your senior leadership, "I think we need a bigger boat."

* A variety of studies have shown that there is a distraction effect that lingers up to 20 seconds after phone use while driving. As this science is introduced to litigation, the alignment window widens and should make it easier to prove phone distraction.

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