SmartDrive Systems today released its latest Distracted Driving Index, a quarterly benchmark of commercial fleet driving distraction rates. SmartDrive will also be providing its findings at the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, set for Sept. 21, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

The Index summarises the quarterly performance results of the SmartDrive Safety program. For the quarter ending June 30, 2010, the incidence of distracted driving among new drivers in the program was 11.8%, a 9% increase in the distraction rate reported in Q1 2010.

The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index (SDDI) provides fleet safety professionals with an ongoing measurement of causes and trends in distracted driving behaviour. The SDDI data is derived from the SmartDrive Safety program, which uses in-vehicle recorders to capture video, audio and vehicle data during sudden stops, swerves, collisions and other events.

The study evaluated more than 3.5 million video events recorded in April, May and June 2010, covering 21,456 commercial drivers. Through detailed video analysis, SmartDrive is able to quantify distractions such as cell phone usage, text messaging, use of maps or navigation, eating/drinking/smoking, and other actions.

The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index for Q2 2010 shows that: Overall Distraction Rate for New Drivers was 11.8% in Q2 2010, up from almost 10.8% in Q1 2010; The five most common distractions, and their changes from Q1, were: Object in Hand = 3.9%, down 11% Handheld Mobile Phone = 1.9%, up 27% Beverage = 1.6%, up 7% Smoking = 1.3%, up 30% Operating Handheld Device = 1.1%, up 38%

The distracted driving rate across long-term drivers in the SmartDrive Safety program in the latest SDDI was just 5.9%, 50% lower than the rate for drivers new to the program in Q2 2010, evidence that companies are effectively working with drivers to reduce driving distractions.

Among the 5% of new drivers with the most distractions, a distraction was observed 70% of the time when a risky driving event was recorded. This 5% of new drivers group accounted for 33% of all recorded distracted driving incidents, while 10% of the new drivers accounted for more than 56% of all risky driving events during Q2.

Two distractions in particular continue to plague some new drivers — operating a handheld device and using a handheld mobile phone. In both instances just 5% of the new drivers in Q2 2010 accounted for the majority of events involving those devices — 57% of all mobile phone incidents captured and 47% of all operating-handheld-device incidents — highlighting the importance of catching these behaviors and working with drivers to correct them.

The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index is a valuable tool in understanding the causes of and trends in commercial driving distraction. It’s based on the world’s largest and fastest-growing database of captured distracted driving behaviors — more than 33 million of them.

Find out more about SmartDrive at:

Blank-IT was designed and developedto reduce distraction caused by the operation of in-vehicle computer devices.