New new research around the rising trend of distracted driving in the mobile workforce is disturbing.
The "2018 Distracted Driving Report" by Motus, a mileage reimbursement and driver management technologies provider, found that as smartphone ownership has increased across an ever-growing mobile workforce, so too, there's a parallel in rising accident rates.
Motus points out that 40 percent of all vehicle accidents are work-related. The report found that as smartphone ownership skyrocketed from 55 percent in 2013 to 77 percent in 2017, the number of accidents escalated from 5.7 million to 6.4 million, an increase of 12.3 percent.
"We've known for years that distracted driving is a problem and felt that it was important to quantify the issue," said Ken Robinson, market research analyst for Motus who notes that Motus believes that it is important to raise awareness for employees to improve driver safety.
Drawing on its data, captured across the world's largest retained pool of drivers, Motus calculated that mobile workers drive more frequently than the average American -- taking 49 percent more trips behind the wheel than any other type of employee. Based on these numbers, Motus estimates that the average mobile worker travels about 1,200 distracted miles every year. The distance equals a trip driving from Cleveland to Dallas without paying attention to the road, says Robinson.
"I think people understand that distracted driving is a risky behavior. Although there appears to be no immediate risks, eventually something bad will happen and the costs are significant especially for employers" said Robinson.
When employees are in crashes, employers pay a high price. Beyond medical costs and property damage, employers also incur lost work days, crash-related legal expenses and lost productivity after a car crash involving an employee. Motus estimates that each year this costs employers about $4,400 per grey fleet mobile worker, the people who drive their personal vehicle for business purposes. In addition, crashes led to 1.65 million lost work days in 2017.
Motus research lead to some surprising data. Robinson expected phone use during morning and evening commutes would be high, but was surprised to discover that phone use while driving is at its highest from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., when the mobile workforce is on the move.
He says that research indicates that even talking on the phone impacts the ability to focus on the road. Another dangerous factor of using a smartphone is taking eyes off the road.
"Smartphone users are taking great risks and increasing the frequency of car crashes," warned Robinson.
The study also found:
-- Phone distraction costs employers about $1,680 per grey fleet mobile worker.
-- Americans drove a total of 107 billion phone-distracted miles in 2017, indicating that phone-related distraction is a growing problem beyond the mobile workforce.
-- Last year, a ticket for using a phone while driving added $226 to the average insurance policy, an increase of 16 percent.
"Distracted driving is a big problem on today's roads, but it doesn't have to stay that way," said Craig Powell, CEO of Motus.
"Businesses can take steps to improve the safety of their mobile workforce by helping mobile workers develop the skills they need to improve their driving skills and avoid risky behaviors. With Motus, businesses have reduced collision rates by an average of 35 percent using the proactive assessments, individualized training modules, motor vehicle record checks, and insurance verification offered through Motus Driver Safety Solutions."
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