We all have heard the distracted driving statistics: you are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision when texting and driving; you travel the length of a football field in the time it takes to read one text; 20% of all crashes with injuries involve a distracted driver. But what you might not have heard is that distracted driving can become even more dangerous when it happens at the end of the workday. Here is what the research, and CEI’s own industry benchmark data tells us.
The Time of Day When Accidents Happen
Based on the latest statistics from the National Safety Council, 43% of all fatal crashes occur between 4:00 pm and midnight, with the largest portion occurring between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. This is the time that most drivers are ending their workday, and more likely fatigued.
Over the past three years, CEI’s own fleet collision statistics bears this out. Our numbers show there is a 22.5% rise in all preventable auto accidents occurring in the afternoon hours. This supports the trend of more crashes occurring later in the day and why it even more critical to eliminate distractions. This trend continued through 2020, a year when less vehicles were commuting at the end of a workday, yet collisions still increased in the afternoon hours.
Impact of Fatigue on Reaction Time
Fatigue has been shown to cause an increase in Human Reaction Time (HRT), especially when we need to make quick decisions. A 2017 scientific study published in the Healthcare Technology Newsletter, showed that HRT for recognition tests, (where subjects had to make a cognitive decision to visual stimuli before reacting), increased between 60% and 87% when subjects were tested at the end of the day versus at the start of the day.[i]
The reason for the increased risk when both fatigue and distraction are present is simple: both impact the cognitive processing time.
The “Attentional Blink”
According to study results from the American Psychological Association, delays in mental processing time increased when switching to complex and unfamiliar tasks.[ii] Our brains lose portions of a second each time we switch between tasks and our brains need to refocus. This experience, known as an “attentional blink”, can have serious consequences in lengthening reaction time when driving.[iii] Even the simplest behaviors such as changing the radio, reaching for a drink or have a conversion with other passengers in the vehicle, will lengthen reaction time and increase the risk of a collision.
What Fleets Can Do
Ensuring that each driver remains focused on the road while operating their vehicle should not be an option, but part of an overall safety culture that provides the necessary tools (Safety Policy, Assessment and Training). Likewise, driver wellness is an important part of keeping drivers fit, and safe, to drive and is getting serious attention from fleets today.
If you would like learn about specific actions your fleet can take to address these matters, please contact us and we’ll connect you with one of our Risk and Safety experts who can assist you. Our mission at The CEI Group is to help you get your drivers home safely every day.
[i] Abbasi Kesbi, Reza & Memarzadeh-Tehran, Hamidreza & Deen, M.J.. (2017). A Technique to Estimate the Human Reaction Time Based on Visual Perception. Healthcare Technology Letters. 4. 10.1049/htl.2016.0106.
[iii] Kendra Cherry. (July 24, 2020). What Is Attentional Blink?. Verywellmind.com https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-attentional-blink-2795017