On a typical day on American roads, eight people are killed and hundreds more are injured in crashes caused by distracted driving, according to the National Safety Council. Whether a driver is texting, scrolling through social media, checking emails, changing music, or simply just reaching for their electronic devices, the distraction can very quickly become deadly.
The risks of driving with distractions increase exponentially when you factor in the size and power of a commercial truck. Compared to personal motorists, commercial truck drivers are 23 times more likely to cause an accident when texting at the wheel, seven times more likely when reaching for their electronic devices, and six times more likely when dialing a phone, according to NoCell Technologies, a firm focused on mitigating cell phone distractions while driving to assist commercial fleets.
In an effort to eliminate distracted driving and curb dangerous mobile phone usage among commercial truck drivers, Nationwide has entered into a new partnership with NoCell, which gives Nationwide’s commercial fleet customers access to NoCell’s distracted driving management platform. NoCell’s technology helps remove distraction risks by disabling disruptive apps and cell phone capabilities while drivers are rolling.
Commercial fleet managers can customize mobile device policies with their fleets, and select which phone capabilities and apps are enabled (e.g. 911, music, maps) or disabled (e.g. social media, texting) while the vehicle is in motion. The NOCELL solution uses an app on the driver’s device, a non-intrusive NOCELLtag connected to the vehicle, and a back-end system to detect when vehicles are in motion, disable unauthorized mobile phone capabilities, and alert fleet managers when phone handling events take place.
Providing access to NoCell’s distracted driving technology is the latest tool in Nationwide’s expansive risk management toolbox for commercial fleets, joining other solutions like telematics and dash-cams, all with the aim of improving driver safety and performance.
“Distracted driving is not just a commercial trucking issue; it is an American roadway issue,” said Gary Flaherty, senior vice president of E&S commercial auto at Nationwide. “Our ultimate goal is to make sure people get home safely at night, and that we save lives by driving a culture of safety with our clients. We aim to protect businesses with extraordinary care, and we do that not only with the insurance coverages that we offer, but also through [a suite of] risk management tools that help clients drive down the frequency and severity of events.
“Commercial fleet managers want and have to be able to control [whatever risks they can for their drivers], and distracted driving is one of those items that is certainly within a motor carrier’s control. If they install the NOCELL solution, they can control their drivers’ devices while they’re in motion and reduce the risk of distracted or risky driving. Using technologies like this signals to us [insurers] that clients want to be best in class, they want to have a culture of safety, and they want their drivers to get home safe at night. At Nationwide, we want to get behind that, and we want to continue proving out these technologies and how they help to reduce risks. That’s why we’re so excited about this new partnership with NoCell.”
The new NOCELL solution adds to a suite of risk management services and telematics capabilities offered to Nationwide E&S commercial auto insureds. In the past, some of these tools, such as in-cab cameras, have been met with displeasure from drivers who are wary of the ‘Big Brother is watching you’ effect. However, Flaherty said the NoCell solution resonates differently with drivers.
“While the stigma surrounding certain [risk management] tools is still there to a certain degree today, this NoCell solution is a very different technology and approach,” said Flaherty. “It’s very important to commercial fleet managers and to us at Nationwide that drivers feel supported, and we want them to know that we care about them.
“The choice that NoCell provides and the ability to customize what applications will work on a driver’s device while in motion – I think that resonates with drivers because it shows: ‘Not only do you care about me, but you care enough that you’re going to allow some of these apps to come through to my device and support me when I’m away from home, I’m away from family, and doing those things that I need, like and enjoy to do.’ I think that’s really important in today’s environment, where driver shortages are definitely top of mind for anybody that services this industry.”
Under the new partnership with NoCell, Nationwide will not receive any specific client data. Flaherty stressed that the goal of the partnership was never to get data and start using it in any level of underwriting capacity; rather, it is “purely an approach to help motor carriers to combat distracted driving”. Now, the insurer is working with NoCell to produce a report based on aggregate data to gain a better understanding of distracted driving and how NoCell’s solution can help to reduce the frequency and severity of events.