39 Percent of Employees Admit to Distracted Driving On the Job; New BlackBerry App Can Help

From the Editor: if there is one blog you should read this year, it's this one. For yourself, your family and your employer. Let's take a pledge to stop distracted driving. I thought this information, and the product might save some lives.

Remember that Russian roulette scene in “Deer Hunter?” With each spin of the chamber came a new chance to live or die. 

The roads in America are dangerous enough without talking undue risks. Every day we get behind the wheel of our SUVs to transport our kids, haul America's food, gas and building supplies, go visit friends or family, ride the bus and train in sleet or rain, yet whenever we engage in distracted driving, it exponentially increases our likelihood of getting into an accident. (WCxKit)
According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roads and 448,000 were injured in auto crashes involving distracted driving. Of those killed, 18% were involved in cell-phone-related distracted driving crashes and an additional 24,000 injuries.
“Driving distracted” or “inattentive driving,” can include anything from talking, eating, putting on makeup or attending to children. All increase the likelihood of being involved in a crash.
To quote a line from a famous movie and actor, “Do you feel lucky?”
Well if you like to gamble, let's see the odds… Here are your five reasons to use the new Blackberry App to stop distracted driving once and for all.
  1. A distracted driver is 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash than someone focused on driving.
  2. A truck driver who is texting is at least 23 times more likely to crash than someone who is not.
  3. Four out of every five accidents (80%) are attributed to distracted drivers. In contrast, drunk drivers account for roughly 1 out of 3 (33%) of all accidents nationally.
  4. A truck driver dialing a cell-phone is 5.9 times more likely to crash.
  5. A driver talking on their cell-phone is 18% slower to react to brake lights.
Interestingly, people admit to knowing the dangers, but they still choose to use their cell-phones while driving:
  1. 39% of employees admit to distracted driving on the job.
  2. 84% of cell-phone users admit that talking on the phone and texting are two of the most dangerous behaviors that occur behind the wheel, yet 81% admit to making calls while driving.
  3. 52% of 16 – 17 year-old drivers confess to talking on the phone while driving. 34% also admit to text messaging while driving.
With facts in hand, Americans, and frankly people all over the world, continue to take their chances with their lives and the lives of others. I think to some degree, we all just never think it will happen to us. But, just look at the numbers…it's happening to someone. 
Taking this issue up a few notches, the government and corporate America have joined together to adopt strict distracted driving policies. In fact, almost 1,600 U.S. companies signed on, covering almost 10.5 million workers nationwide. And, an additional 550 organizations have committed to adopting the policies as well, which will cover another 1.5 million workers.
Establishing corporate policies are certainly a tremendous step in the right direction; however, as we've read in numerous research studies, people still continue to use their cell-phones in their vehicles. Even with the looming threat of immediate termination.
Another safeguard for the driver, their family or employer, is to place technology on their phone that can remove the temptation to text, talk and email while driving.
Say what? Yes, that's right; the app actually disables the phone using technology (apps) so that a driver can't use their phone while driving in their car.
There are a variety of products on the market that limit use of your cell-phone while driving, but most don't take the ability away completely. Corporate policies are zero-tolerance. States that have banned cell phone usage in your car or banned texting are also zero-tolerance. Yet, none of them can ultimately enforce those policies with the driver. That's why this type of technology, placed on the phone, puts some muscle behind these policies.
Our application called LifeSaver™ for example uses GPS to track the speed of the vehicle. Based on a pre-set speed, for example 5 miles per hour, LifeSaver assumes control of the phone and eliminates the temptation (ability) to use it except in a 911 emergency. Phone use is returned once the vehicle comes to a stop.
When evaluating products, make sure they can use GPS for tracking and reporting since there are many advantages that corporations and parents can benefit from. With a distracted driving app using GPS, corporations or parents should be able to locate the vehicle at any time, monitor speeds, as well as receive automated reports via email on these activities.
Because texting is real-time, people expect an answer immediately; therefore, the application should also have some form of auto responder that can let a text sender know that you're currently driving and will return their text when it's safe to do so.
And, if your policy calls for zero-tolerance, the application you select should be able to eliminate incoming, as well as outbound communications. Remember, talking hands-free via Bluetooth is still considered distracted driving, no matter what the driving laws are in your state. Taking your attention away from the task at hand, driving, is driving distracted. 
Lastly, for corporations needing to deploy to multiple users at once, the company you select should also be able work with your current BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or offer a proprietary solution for those that don't use BES to push out applications to employees.
Implementing a corporate policy and using technology on the driver's phone should be a simple decision considering they are relatively inexpensive but effective solutions. But if you need more convenience, consider this…A Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study estimated that the annual cost of crashes caused by using a cell-phone while driving is $43 billion. According to Highway Traffic Safety Administration, job crashes cost employers an average of $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury and $3.6 million per fatality.   And, this doesn't take into account the emotional and physical damage to the diver or their family in the case of an injury or death.   Or, the damage it can do to your company's reputation, image and bank accounts. (WCxKit)
So, look at your policies both at home and at work regarding distracted driving and ask yourself, “Do you feel lucky?”
Written by Guest Blogger: Angelo Ponzi, CMO, www.appsfx.com, angelo@appsfx.com
About appsFX- appsFX is a leading developer of innovative BlackBerry applications that enhance the productivity, efficiency and utility of personal and professional Smartphones.

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