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Navigating Distracted Driving Awareness Month with the Smith System

April 02, 2024


Thousands of lives are destroyed every year because of distracted driving. Many incidents are avoidable, and Smith System remains committed to ending distracted driving and turning the tide on the horrifying statistics.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about potential distractions and change behaviors to make the roads safer for everyone.

Understanding Distracted Driving

A distraction diverts a driver's attention from driving with complete focus and control. Distractions come from all sorts of things like technology, passengers, and daydreaming.

Distractions tend to fall into three categories:

  • Visual distractions cause you to take your eyes off the road.
  • Manual distractions cause you to take your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive distractions cause your mind to wander from driving.

By remembering the Smith5Keys®, we can set ourselves up to respond to a range of potential distractions safely and responsibly.

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019 alone in the United States, and it continues to be a leading cause of crashes. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed, and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

How Smith System Tackles Distracted Driving

Smith System promotes a proactive approach to counteract distractions and instills safe driving habits through training and technology. Each of the Smith5Keys® promotes awareness and focus (and ignores distractions) behind the wheel.

For example, when scanning 15 seconds ahead (Aim High in Steering®), you can acknowledge, anticipate, and adapt to potential hazards in good time. Likewise, by keeping your eyes moving and maintaining awareness of the big picture rather than fixing on a single point, you are less likely to "zone out" and daydream.

Creating a space cushion around your vehicle (Leave Yourself an Out®) ensures the increased capacity to respond if something distracts you. This is also vital in mitigating potential distracted drivers. Tailgating is dangerous for many reasons; first, it will likely distract the driver ahead. And secondly, it decreases reaction times if the other driver does something unexpected because they are distracted.

By incorporating the Smith5Keys®, drivers can reduce the risk of accidents and navigate safely through various driving conditions, including those where distractions are prevalent.

Why Your Organization Needs a Distracted Driving Policy

Beyond individual responsibility, organizations are crucial in (and responsible for) promoting safe driving practices among their employees. Implementing a distracted driving policy is not only a moral imperative but also a practical necessity for any business.

If a driver is involved in a crash, it impacts a company's finances, legal standing, and reputation. The estimated average cost is around $72,442 for an accident caused by distracted driving.

It is essential to have a distracted driving policy in place for your employees when they are conducting company business. Suppose one of your drivers is involved in a fatal accident while using a cell phone, for example. In that case, the organization faces severe consequences if they are without adequate training and company policies. There have been multi-million dollar settlements for the families of victims of distracted drivers. These are avoidable costs that are never worth the risk at any level.

This is why driver training, telematics, and assessment are so crucial. Without monitoring and training drivers, there's no way to know whether or not unnecessary risks and poor habits are happening. It might not even occur to some drivers they are doing anything dangerous until they go through a training program.

Smith System remains steadfast in its commitment to combating distracted driving by promoting awareness and equipping drivers with the tools they need to stay focused on the road. Through the implementation of the Smith5Keys® and the development of distracted driving policies, organizations can play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of their employees and the broader community. 

In honor of Distracted Driving Month Smith System is providing our Arrive Alive Course for FREE.

FREE COURSE  Arrive Alive: Avoiding Distractions