Distracted Driving: An “All of Us” Problem
Written by Aylin Cook
Distracted driving remains the leading cause of traffic accidents in the United States, and despite more widespread awareness of the dangers of phone distraction while driving, the problem persists. In 2017 alone, distracted driving accounted for 8.5 percent of American traffic fatalities.
The compulsion to stay connected has only intensified as smartphones and the apps we all use have grown increasingly addictive. Even as attitudes among texting and driving have evolved somewhat, attitudes around app usage while driving remain cavalier.
A total of 56% of survey respondents believe that using apps while driving has no negative influence on their driving safety; 3% of respondents actually think they’re better drivers when using a smartphone app. The reality, of course, is the opposite. Research shows that humans cannot focus on more than one thing at a time, full stop.
These incidents often happen when the driver is alone in the car. Jay Winsten, Director of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, cites inadequate social stigma as a persistent root cause of distracted driving.And while having a human “conscience” in the passenger seat at all times isn’t a practical solution, maybe smartphone technology itself is the unlikely ally we’ve all been waiting for.
In business, it’s said that you should inspect what you expect. At HopSkipDrive, we have a zero tolerance policy for illegal device usage while driving, and we monitor the device usage of CareDrivers on our platform through our CareDriver app. While some legal use is unavoidable (they do need to communicate by phone to both organizers and riders sometimes), we have found that the mere act of making drivers aware of their own phone usage has yielded powerful results in terms of adjusting behavior and enhancing safety.
That device usage data shows that while U.S. drivers are on their phones an average of 7.762% of the time they’re driving, CareDrivers are on the phone just 0.987% of the time (that’s 8 times less than the national average)*. In addition to data around device usage, HopSkipDrive also collects data around other risky behaviors that predict collisions, such as speeding, rapid braking, rapid acceleration, and hard cornering. This data informs success cards: safety report cards sent to all CareDrivers that compare their behaviors to national and regional benchmarks.
Beyond the bells and whistles, though, safety will always require basic mindfulness: creating the conscious conditions, awareness, focus and space to anticipate risks, and then defending the time and space you need to react to them. And it’s not enough to be mindful in the moment. To improve safety, you first need to define, even quantify, what safety means to you. It requires honest introspection, especially about where you need to improve.
Read the HopSkipDrive Safety Report to learn more about our safety standards and get a transparent look at our safety metrics.
* Source: Zendrive