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Fleet operators are using technology to combat distracted driving

The worrying increase in distracted driving accidents is often blamed on smartphones and sophisticated automobile entertainment, navigation and information systems. However, many drivers crash each year in Michigan and around the country from just letting their minds wander. The problem is an especially thorny one for the freight moving sector because accidents involving semi-tractor trailers are usually serious. Furthermore, the pressure that truck drivers work under often leaves them fatigued and prone to distraction.

The fleet management company Omnitracs has taken steps to address the problem by adding a module to its web-based Driver Center that is designed to warn truck drivers and fleet operators about potential distracted driving situations. Alerts are sent out when drivers spend hours in heavy traffic or begin their shifts at unusual times or after only brief periods of rest. The feature keeps track of how long commercial vehicle drivers spend behind the wheel by accessing their hours of service data.

Other technology firms are using phone data or in-vehicle cameras to identify and warn distracted drivers before they crash. In addition, smartphone applications have been released that avoid distraction by blocking call and text features while vehicles are moving. Highway fatalities caused by distracted, impaired or fatigued truck drivers can tarnish corporate images. Therefore, it's no surprise that some of the nation's largest companies are investing heavily in this technology to both prevent commercial vehicle accidents and safeguard their reputations.

Hours of service logbooks and technology that can anticipate distracted driving episodes could also provide useful information useful to personal injury attorneys pursuing legal remedies on behalf of truck accident victims or their families. Attorneys could also gather evidence of possible negligence by scrutinizing phone records, internet activity and repair logs.

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