Written by Pam Barrometro Updated on 12 February 2023 On this page 7 ways to manage driver distractions The top 5 distractions while driving The dangers of distracted driving Next steps FAQs Expand Our site is reader-supported – by clicking our links, we can match you with a potential supplier, and we may earn a small commission for this referral. With the rise of technology, it’s easier than ever for drivers to get distracted while behind the wheel. According to a study by the Australian Automobile Association, distracted driving is the leading cause of road accidents in Australia and accounts for approximately 16% of serious casualty road crashes. Looking for the most effective ways to improve driver safety and minimise accidents in your fleet? Read on to explore our top seven strategies to manage driver distractions. 7 ways to manage driver distractionsFrom a no-phone policy, encouraging regular breaks, and utilising the best GPS fleet tracking systems in Australia, we'll cover a range of strategies to help your drivers stay focused and alert on the road.1. Implement a no-phone policyYou may already enforce this, but it bears reiterating: holding a mobile phone while driving is illegal – even when the traffic light's bright red. This means no talking, texting, reviewing delivery information, or sending you work status updates.Hands-free devices may appear to be a viable solution to mobile phone distraction. However, research suggests that these devices are not significantly safer than handheld phones because they still create mental distractions that take your driver's full attention away from the road. No matter how we wish it were otherwise, our brain isn't good at multitasking, and even hands-free devices can be a dangerous distraction.While investing in high-quality hands-free devices for your drivers can help, they should still keep the use of these to a minimum. This means encouraging your drivers to review their route in advance (before they start their trip), turn off distracting notifications, and avoid checking messages when they are in motion – even if they’re coming from you.2. Open communicationEffective fleet management relies on open communication. To make this possible, you have to create a safe environment where drivers feel comfortable reporting problems and discussing their concerns. This can include encouraging your drivers to speak up if they feel fatigued and regularly checking in to ensure they have all the tools they need for a comfortable trip.You can also encourage them to give you feedback and for their input on how you can better support them. This can include creating a survey or a feedback form to gather their opinions on various aspects of their job – especially the policies you have in place.Through open communication and regular feedback, you can tailor your approach to driver management that will match the needs of your drivers.3. Encourage regular breaksFatigue is a major cause of accidents on the road, and approximately 20% of road deaths each year are attributed to it. As there are no specific state regulations that address fatigue while driving, you and/or your fleet manager will need to keep tabs on your driver's fatigue level.Open communication, as we discussed earlier, helps with this. Encourage your drivers to speak up and let you know when they need a break, assuring them that needing to take a break is not something they should worry about. This can help ensure your drivers feel as if their needs are being heard and addressed.Additionally, you can also implement preventive measures, such as scheduling regular breaks, providing training on fatigue management, and monitoring working hours – Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) that automatically track your drivers' Hours of Service (HOS) can help you with this.Regular breaks are necessary for optimal performance at work. Encourage your drivers to take regular breaks to rest and refocus (especially on long trips) as this can help reduce fatigue and improve overall road safety.4. Monitor driving habitsFleet tracking technology can be used to monitor the driving habits of drivers, including phone usage, speeding, and other erratic driving behaviours. Using this data, you can easily identify each of your driver's problem areas and provide targeted coaching and training to help improve their performance.However, before you start tracking your fleet, make sure you're aware of the laws and regulations in your area. Regulations may vary per state, but one rule remains constant: you can't track employees (or their vehicles) without their consent. To ensure full compliance, our article on Australian vehicle tracking laws can help. 5. Incentivise good behaviourOne effective way to boost driver morale is to reward good behaviour with incentives. This can include giving recognition and rewards to drivers who demonstrate safe driving practices, such as zero to low accidents or violations. Giving positive feedback to your drivers for consistently following good driving protocols also goes a long way.Pro tip: Even low-value incentives can lead to a decrease in dangerous driving behaviours. Many fleet management system devices are equipped with powerful driver behaviour monitoring systems that automatically track your drivers' erratic behaviour. From speeding, idling, and tailgating to distracted and drowsy driving, vehicle tracking devices can help you monitor and automatically grade your drivers. With this knowledge at your fingertips, you can easily set up a rewards system to motivate your drivers.6. Keep the volume lowWe know long-distance drives are best paired with classic tunes. However, it is important to remind your drivers to keep the volume at a reasonable level. This will help to minimise distractions and improve safety. Keeping the music volume low also means that your drivers can hear their environment well, allowing them to detect potential hazards on the road, such as sirens from emergency vehicles and horns from other cars.You can set guidelines for acceptable volume levels and remind drivers to keep the volume down while driving. More importantly, caution them against fiddling with the radio while driving, so no changing tunes and adjusting the volume.7. Provide trainingRegular training sessions for drivers on the dangers of distraction and how to avoid them can help increase awareness and improve driver behaviour. You can also tackle the updated laws on driving in your state, set penalties for erratic driving behaviour, and motivate good conduct with exciting incentives.Pro tip: cover absolutely everything! While some causes of distracted driving are obvious (mobile use), some aren't as easily detectable (adjusting the air conditioning setting). Everyone has the responsibility to be vigilant on the road – that means you, your drivers, our government, and even pedestrians. It takes the whole community to create safer roads. We know it's a lot, but the good news is that you don't have to do it all alone. With the help of technology, you can stay on top of your fleet management business and better manage your drivers. There are many vehicle tracking devices that provide power fleet management tools that can help you improve driver safety. If you're interested in investing in a fleet management system, you can check out how much vehicle tracking systems cost in Australia. Save by comparing tailored GPS vehicle tracking quotes Looking for a new fleet management system? Yes No Just answer a few quick questions – it only takes a minute ▶ Read more: What is a Tachograph and Do You Need One in Australia? What are the top 5 distractions while driving?According to the New South Wales (NSW) Police Force, the top five driver distractions are:1. Mobile phone useUsing a mobile phone while driving impairs your driver's ability to react quickly and make safe decisions on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or receiving a text message takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. Additionally, texting while driving requires mental and physical attention, which means that your driver isn’t focused on the road – a sure recipe for disaster!2. Adjusting vehicle settingsAdjusting the vehicle settings while driving, such as the radio or air conditioning, is a common bad habit that many people don't even realise is dangerous. When your driver is adjusting the radio, they may take their eyes off the road to find the desired station or volume. Similarly, when adjusting the air conditioning, your driver may need to reach for the controls, which can take their focus away from the road. Furthermore, adjusting vehicle settings can also lead to your driver taking their hands off the wheel, which is something that should be avoided at all costs.3. PassengersStudies reveal that the crash risk of drivers may increase when passengers are present. According to a study by Monash University, young drivers are especially at a higher risk of crashing when they have friends in the car. They may engage in conversation, laugh and joke, or even try to impress their friends with their driving skills. All of these distractions can take their attention away from the road, increasing the risk of a crash.4. Eating, drinking and smokingAccording to Finder's Safe Driving Report, the most prevalent dangerous driving habit is eating while driving, with 45% of drivers engaging in this behaviour.Eating and drinking on the road is dangerous as it diverts your driver's attention away from the road and limits the number of hands available for steering. This increases the risk of accidents and makes it harder for your driver to respond swiftly in an emergency situation. Smoking is another serious offender. According to a study by Monash University, smoking contributes to 0.9% of distraction-related crashes, equating to about 12,780 crashes over the five-year period they examined.5. External distractionsDrivers face multiple distractions, not just from inside the vehicle but also from outside sources. Along with monitoring other drivers and pedestrians, your drivers must avoid rubbernecking. Furthermore, your drivers must also pay attention to the weather and traffic conditions, as these can change quickly and have a significant impact on their driving. Compare tailored quotes from top fleet management systems in Australia Get free quotes What are the dangers of distracted driving?Distracted driving can have significant financial impacts on your business. Vehicle use is the primary cause of work-related traumatic injuries, and according to Work Safe Australia, workplace injuries can cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion annually. The costs associated with distracted driving can include decreased productivity, medical expenses for injuries, and the cost of repairs to damaged vehicles. Additionally, collisions may lead to higher insurance premiums, as well as potential reputational damages to your business. According to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the yearly financial cost of road accidents in Australia is estimated at $30 billion. Next stepsAs a fleet manager, managing driver distractions and improving road safety can be a challenging task. However, you can address this by: providing training and education on safe driving practices, implementing strict safety policies, encouraging regular breaks to avoid fatigue, and implementing a rewards system to encourage safe driving behaviour.While managing driver distractions may seem daunting, utilising technology can make it much easier. Many vehicle tracking systems are now equipped with powerful monitoring systems that can track and monitor driver behaviour, allowing you to promote safer driving behaviours. If you want to know how much you need to invest in fleet tracking systems, you can use our free quote comparison tool. Let us know what you need for your business, and we’ll connect you with leading providers who will be in touch with tailored, obligation-free quotes. FAQs What are the top three distractions while driving? The top three distractions while driving are: mobile phones, eating, and adjusting vehicle settings. What are three things you can do to eliminate distractions while driving? You can stick to three words when it comes to eliminating driver distractions: educate, implement, and monitor.Educate your drivers on driving laws, the dangers of distracted driving, the most common types of distractions to be aware of, and the strategies they can use to avoid them.Implement policies to eliminate distractions while driving. This can include limiting work hours, prohibiting eating and drinking, and setting up a no-phone policy. Additionally, you can establish a rewards system to encourage safer driving practices.Monitor the habits of your drivers with vehicle tracking devices, including phone usage and erratic driving behaviours. Many devices are equipped with powerful driver behaviour tools that automatically sort data to help you easily identify each driver's problem areas. Written by: Pam Barrometro Writer With over six years of experience helping businesses scale through strategic marketing research, Pam delivers the most useful tech advice for small businesses and beyond. At Expert Market, she probes into the world of fleet management systems to help business owners get the most bang for their buck.