Distracted driving is a key risk and cause for growing commercial auto insurance claims and losses.
Research shows that commercial motor vehicle drivers in the United States who text are about 23 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event than those who do not. Still, approximately 481,000 drivers use their mobile devices every day while driving during business hours, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In fact, the annual accident rate for U.S. commercial fleets is around 20%. For some industries, including pharmaceutical and trucking, that figure is even higher due to distracted driving.
For companies that deploy and manage a fleet of vehicles of any size — including grey fleets and heavy-duty equipment — these stats are alarming. Mobile devices have become an integral part of business procedures over the past decade, empowering companies to streamline communication and provide data and feedback in real time. But employers and fleet managers must be mindful of these realities when enacting mobile-device policies.
The consequences of a commercial distracted driving accident can affect a company’s profitability, from reputation damage and limited employees due to revoked CDLs, or even more catastrophic, cases of employee death. Furthermore, an employer may be held legally accountable for negligent actions if their employee was acting within the scope of their job duties at the time of an accident, such as a driver who was either texting or talking on a mobile device with dispatch about a work-related issue.
As distracted driving has increased, many insurance carriers have turned to data-driven insights from the multiple safety technology solutions available to better understand and combat the issue. However, many of these solutions focus on monitoring behavior and improving it but do little (or nothing at all) to prevent claims stemming from improper mobile device use in commercial vehicles, which is a primary differentiator in effective management and prevention practices.
To effectively eliminate claims, liabilities and losses associated with distracted driving risks, companies with a fleet operation should deploy an enterprise-grade and scalable AI solution that can actively and intelligently enforce a company’s current mobile device policy. Such solutions should address:
- The multiple work environments employees interact with.
- Handheld and hands-free mobile devices.
- BYOD and company devices alike.
- Grey fleets, personal and various types of company vehicles.
With the average cost of a loss-related fleet vehicle accident nearing $70,000, employers manually policing and relying on self-imposed driver responsibility is simply not enough. Instead, by utilizing a technology solution that actively addresses a company’s unique safety pain points and ensures employees are adhering to specific mobile device policies, employers can proactively prevent the top cause of commercial driving losses. This concept is known as Contextual Mobile Device Management or CMDM.
Smart accident mitigation
Acting as an automatic safety switch, CMDM assists companies with actively enforcing their mobile device policies based on contextual indicators, allowing smart devices to be as ‘smart’ as possible. Consisting of a software app on the employee’s mobile device, a dashboard management console and strategically placed beacons, CMDM can identify work zones based on several environmental characteristics to enhance the enforcement of the company’s mobile device policies. This includes movement and engine vibration, location, and time of day to determine access to texts, emails, handheld phone calls, games and other apps according to the defined company policy.
For fleet managers and employers, this capability confirms their employees are always following company and state laws, as CMDM ensures employees have access to mission-critical apps only when needed.
Additionally, by not physically limiting access to devices or restricting mobile networks, employers can enable their employees to adequately engage with the technology needed to complete their jobs more efficiently while combating time-consuming interruptions that compromise safety and productivity.
CMDM also attenuates privacy concerns, as the technology only manages applications and device functionality and doesn’t access or record personal data.
Risk control experts and underwriters have firsthand knowledge of the distracted driving epidemic and have witnessed the detrimental effects of the accompanying risks and claims. It is now widely accepted that when companies utilize intelligent mobile device management solutions to eliminate accidents caused by mobile device distraction, insurance providers can improve their risk pool assessments. At the end of the day, this level of contextual AI offers commercial fleet managers the ability to ensure their drivers and others on the road consistently return home safely to their families.
Pete Plotas (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president of global alliances for TRUCE Software. These opinions are his own.
Pete is driven by a passion for disruptive and innovative technology, which has fueled him for over 20 years to connect people and companies all over the world. At TRUCE Software, he works with enterprise businesses, major insurance and telecommunication companies across the globe to forge strategic partnerships, channels, and alliances to combat mobile distractions within the workplace. His work spans the early days of B2B marketplaces helping to change how buyers and suppliers interact, into today’s cloud software age enabling customer experience and education tech. From startups to enterprises, Pete has developed partner ecosystems that have created customer value across six continents.