I recently interviewed Corey Woinarowicz, Director of Business Development at NOCELL Technologies, to discuss distracted driver issues and how NOCELL Technologies can help motor carriers reduce driver violations related to these issues (e.g., cell phone use while driving, texting, inattentive driving). NOCELL Technologies provides a hardware and software solution to block drivers from using their cell phones.
The Problem – Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is one of the most severe violations a motor carrier faces. Not only is there a potential for a serious crash resulting in bodily harm to the driver and others, but accidents also cause damage to company equipment and other vehicles. Furthermore, distracted driving can lead to multiple violations under the Unsafe Driving BASIC score that impact both the company and driver.
For example, a commercial driver sends a text from his cell phone. He is pulled over by law enforcement and cited for texting. This one citation for distracted driving can lead to 25 total violation severity weight pointsunder the Unsafe Driving BASIC score, which could impact a company’s insurance premium amount and/or coverage (e.g., cancellation).
Here is the breakdown for one instance of texting while driving:
In the industry, it is a best practice for your company to have a written cell phone policy that clearly states that drivers will be disciplined if they receive these types of violations (e.g., probation, termination). However, no matter what disciplinary action the company takes with the driver in the example above, the company still has the texting violations (25 points) on its Unsafe Driving BASIC record for 24-months. That can be two insurance renewal periods!
In addition to the impact of the violations on the company’s BASIC record, commercial drivers need to be aware of how distracted driving violations can affect them. Besides company disciplinary actions, these violations also remain on a driver’s report from the Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) for 24-months.
Written Cell Phone Policy
A written cell phone policy is NOT enough. As I stated in the video in this article, managers and safety directors cannot realistically ride with every driver to ensure compliance with the company’s written cell phone policy. Therefore, technology is the solution to ensure your company’s drivers stay off or limit their cell phone us, thus minimizing incidents of distracted driving.
Disciplinary Actions Matter
One of the things Corey discusses in our interview is disciplinary actions. He states that it is imperative that companies not only have a written cell phone policy, but that they must follow through on disciplinary actions if the policy is going to be effective. If your company does nothing, it can potentially be a real problem, especially in litigation.
This is an area that many of our clients find challenging. It is tough to write up drivers or even terminate them when you have developed personal relationships. However, the likelihood of a driver repeating the offense if no disciplinary action is taken is great and could potentially have even worse outcomes the second or third time the driver is distracted while driving.
Monitoring, Analysis, and Coaching
The most important and hardest parts of managing distracted driving are monitoring driver behaviors, analyzing trends, and coaching drivers. In the interview, Corey and I discussed these important tasks, while also recognizing the difficulty that safety directors and managers experience when trying to find the time to do these and other job-related tasks. That is where NOCELL Technologies comes in. Their technology limits the drivers’ interaction with their cell phones while operating company vehicles. A driver’s cell phone screen “blanks” out to remove distractions such an incoming emails and text messages. The company has the ability to allow certain communications to still come through the driver’s phone (NOCELL calls this “white listing”) such as those from dispatch. If drivers use a prepaid or second cell phone that has Bluetooth, the NOCELL software provides alerts to the company. Then, the company follows through and addresses the driver’s violation of the company’s cell phone policy. The technology also provides data that safety directors and managers can use to identify trends in violations, to develop safety training, and to coach drivers on ways to minimize distractions while driving.
I learned a lot during the interview with Corey from NOCELL Technologies. If I were a company safety director, I would purchase this software to help minimize my drivers’ cell phone use when operating company vehicles and to help keep the company’s Unsafe Driving BASIC scores under the threshold. As a safety consultant, I have asked NOCELL Technologies to send me a demo model so that I can actually use it and then provide feedback to our Transport Safely Safety Circle.
Here’s the bottom line:
The days of just having a written cell phone policy no longer exist. Companies need tools for enforcing no cell phone usage policy while driving. Companies can either take a preventive approach for addressing distracted driving violations and accidents by using NOCELL, OR they can take a reactive approach when violations and accidents occur. As I stated in the video, its either a “fence on the cliff or an ambulance in the valley” mentality. NOCELL is your fence on the cliff and can minimize Unsafe Driving Violations, tickets, and accidents.