SAN DIEGO, February 3 /PRNewswire/ -- SmartDrive Systems, a leader in fleet safety and operational efficiency, today released the Q4 2009 SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index of 15.8%, a 12% decline from the Q3 level of 17.9%. The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index is a quarterly benchmark of the commercial fleet driving distraction rate, and provides fleet safety professionals with an ongoing measurement of causes and trends in driving distraction to help them put safer drivers on the road.


The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index evaluates drivers in their first two weeks on the SmartDrive Safety program, before the positive results of this program have been realized. For Q4, the study evaluated over 84,000 video events across 5,397 new commercial drivers, these videos were then reviewed for sources of distractions that can't be quantified by non-video approaches, such as cell phone usage, text messaging, use of maps or navigation, eating/drinking/smoking, or any other distraction resulting in drivers taking their eyes off the road.

For Q4, 2009, the SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index shows:

- Overall Distraction Rate = 15.8% (down from 17.9% in Q309) - The performance was driven by changes from Q3 in the following areas: - Object in Hand = up 113% (now 5.1%) - Map or Navigation in Hand = down 85% (now 0.2%) - Mobile Phone (Handheld) = down 36% (now 2.9%) - Beverage = down 32% (now 1.7%) - Food = down 30% (now 1.4%) - Mobile Phone (Handsfree) = down 22% (now 0.7%)

Just last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a nationwide ban on text messaging for commercial truck and bus drivers. We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe, said LaHood. In recognition of the increasing impact of text messaging, the SmartDrive Index split texting out as a separate category for the first time in Q4. The initial measurement of this behavior for Q4 is 1.2% of total commercial driving time.

However, the study also determined that text messaging is highly concentrated among a small percentage of overall drivers. Over 76% of new drivers evaluated did not have any text messaging observations recorded, while 5% of the drivers were seen texting 10% of the time, and were responsible for 45% of all captured text messaging observations. As a result, their overall distraction rate was nearly 16 times higher than other drivers. Similar concentration was seen for mobile phone use, where 5% of drivers were observed to use mobile phone 29% of time, also 16 times more than other drivers. Therefore, having a mechanism to work with drivers who consistently exhibit these behaviors can have a dramatic effect on overall levels of distraction and improved overall fleet safety.

In fact, fleets that use the SmartDrive Safety program to coach their drivers to a higher-level of safety performance see consistent and dramatic decreases in distraction rates. The distracted driving rate across long-term SmartDrive customers is 58% lower than the Index for new drivers to the program.

The Distracted Driving Index is a valuable tool in understanding the causes and trends regarding commercial driving distraction, said Jason Palmer, Chief Product Officer for SmartDrive Systems. We support the DOT's new texting ban, and are pleased that active SmartDrive customers continue to significantly outperform the overall index with respect to safe driving.

The next update to the Index will be published in early Q2 2010, and will highlight further changes in percentage and cause of driver distraction.

About SmartDrive Systems

SmartDrive delivers innovative solutions that make it easy for fleet managers to improve driver safety and reduce operating cost. SmartDrive records comprehensive video-based data from the road, then thoroughly reviews and scores critical events and recommends action for fleet managers to quickly respond and deliver sustainable savings - all through an easy-to-use managed service. SmartDrive Systems is based in San Diego, and employs approximately 300 people worldwide. For more information, please visit

SOURCE: SmartDrive Systems

CONTACT: Jason Palmer of SmartDrive Systems, +1-858-225-5587,