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Archive for the ‘DRM Blog’ Category

Passenger induced distraction

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Red dice spell the word "Risk"One of the most interesting things about studies into driving habits is that so many of the results are counterintuitive. Strikingly and tragically, one of those facts is that teenage drivers accompanied by other teenage passengers are more likely to crash than those who are driving alone. The risk is more than double for teenagers compared to other groups. In fact, statistically, the risk for drivers with passengers is greater than those who drive alone up until the age of 29.
Risk taking is greater in teenagers partly because their judgement of risk is different to that of mature adults. *The area of the brain, such as the ventral striatum and prefrontal areas, which are involved in social stimulus and reward magnitude, are still developing in adolescents. So a young person is more likely to over-evaluate the reward of social stimulus, compared to the risk. Social acceptance by peers becomes very important and, if that acceptance is gained by hazardous driving practices, the risk will be overridden by the reward.
That situation begins to resolve itself in our twenties and the statistics reflect that. From the age of thirty there is no difference in risk, whether we have passengers or not. The picture is slightly different for older drivers. We can still have our moments of bad driving. In part that can be attributed to the driving behaviour we learned in our adolescent years. Our brains can become wired for us to drive in a particular way.
Sportsmen refer to ‘muscle memory’, which is really attributable to the fact that, as we practice an action, the neural pathways in our brain become established and the action becomes over time second nature. The process is very much the same in driving. We drive in a certain way and the neural pathways gradually become established, making it second nature. So bad habits established to impress social groups in adolescence can persist and encourage us to drive in a more risky fashion in later life.
It’s all very well to understand the problem but what can we do about it?
One approach is to encourage driving lessons very early on. There are several projects in which children as young as eleven years of age are taught to drive. This is beneficial because it will establish good driving practices early on and hardwire them into the learner’s brain.
A second approach is to teach young people about how their brains are developing and how they may be prone to over-valuing the social stimuli, putting themselves and their friends at risk in the process. A lot of work has been done on informing young drivers about the risk of drinking and driving, speeding and so on but one of the key factors in tackling the behaviour traits involved is to explain them clearly directly to the adolescents. Various psychological studies*, particularly in bystander intervention, have shown that explaining the reasons for particular behaviour can immediately prevent it.
Early in this article I mentioned distraction. Regardless of our age, having passengers in a car can potentially be a distraction. If the conversation is light and unchallenging for the driver, it’s less likely to be a problem but, if the passenger’s conversation requires a lot of cognitive processing, the driver will revert to driving on his reactions, rather than processing what is going on in front of him.
So it would be a bad idea to drive while contributing to a conversation about modern particle physics theories! In fact, anything which is likely to make the driver pause is potentially dangerous. If you want to see how easily distraction compromises driving performance, ask someone for an honest answer to a tricky question while they are completing a complex task with time constraints. You will visibly see the hesitation as the driver fights for the cognitive resources to deal with both demands.
Passengers can sometimes cause exactly that sort of conflict for resources and, on occasions, it can be fatal. So, don’t be afraid of asking a passenger to stop talking if you have a tricky on-road situation to deal with. It’s much better to risk offending someone than have a collision.
References: *Preusser et al (1998), The anatomy of Crashes Involving Young Drivers; Steinberg, L., (2008), A social Neuroscience Perspective on Adolescent Risk Taking,

Driving Risk Management Ltd

At Work Drivers Are Different

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

It’s the sort of comment you hear in a lively discussion about driving down at the pub. You might have even uttered it yourself in a moment of weakness on the road, having witnessed a poor bit of driving: “And they call themselves professional drivers.”

It’s perhaps understandablBusinesswoman drinking coffee while drivinge that some drivers view those who drive for a living as infallible but of course at-work drivers in general are under far more pressure than the ordinary motorist who is just involved in a trip to the supermarket.

As human beings we’re vulnerable enough already while we’re driving – it’s a well known fact that in 95% of on-road collisions human error was the principal cause – so adding the responsibility of being at work while driving inevitably ups the stakes.

Hardly surprising then that a third of all road traffic incidents are thought to involve people who are at work.  Also, it’s been established that employees who drive in the course of their working day are 49% more likely to be involved in an incident than other road users who are not working [*Department for Transport].

There are a couple of key differences between the ordinary motorist and occupational drivers that we must bear in mind.

First of all, many people who have to drive for work do so on unfamiliar roads.  Most of us will have had the experience of driving on unfamiliar roads from time to time, such as when we go on holiday.  A good example is when we find ourselves at a roundabout and we panic while looking for the correct exit. Often we hand over control to the SatNav and let it tell us where to turn off.

Each instance of having to make a hurried or unexpected decision can take our attention from our surroundings for long enough to be caught up in an incident.  Making assumptions is a dangerous premise but in this case I think it’s reasonable to assume that making a decision as to which turning to take in busy traffic is just as distracting as being in the middle of a mobile phone call.  So it’s easy to work out where a sizeable amount of distraction arises for occupational drivers.

Another crucial, risk-elevating factor for the at-work driver is that they’re almost always under some form of time pressures to get the job done. Time constraints are something that the driver’s employer must be aware of and expectations for task completion should therefore be realistic, with driver safety always being the guiding principal.

But there are things that occupational drivers can do to help themselves as well.  Firstly proper journey planning will ensure that weather, traffic delays and major events are taken account of to optimise the route.  These days it’s possible to get a great deal of accurate information on the web or via the broadcast media, so there really is no excuse. It just means taking an extra 10 minutes planning time before setting out.

However, more than anything else, the main thing a professional driver can do is to take an extra moment to think before acting.  When you’re in unfamiliar territory and you’re under pressure time-wise, it’s very tempting to put your foot down and go when you think you see a gap.  In fact, if you have to pause to think at all, you shouldn’t be carrying out that manoeuvre in the first place.

Accept that if you miss that gap it doesn’t matter.  It’s far more important to control your emotions on the road than letting them control you.  You may feel anxious at times and that’s exactly when you need to take that extra second and wait for the next, larger gap in traffic, rather than take a chance.  After all you’re being paid to do a job, a job where the vehicle is a constituent part. It’s not worth risking serious injury, or worse, at any time………. let alone when you’re at work.

It’s also worth remembering that sometimes we see what we want to see and miss important things such as bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians and even other vehicles.  If you’re a professional driver you’ll do yourself, your loved ones, and maybe even a complete stranger, a favour by taking a moment longer at crucial points on each journey.  It may just take the blink of an eye but it could be the best decision you’ve ever made behind the wheel.


*Department of Transport, An In-Depth Study of Work-related Road Traffic Accidents, Road Safety Research Report No. 58, 2005

Driving Risk Management Ltd

Car Insurance: Gender Inequality or Natural Born Boy Racers?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Over the past few weeks, a debate has resurfaced and it is one that has raged for a number of years. Is the gender price difference on car insurance discriminatory? Well, the issue has now been settled by a EU ruling that has stated that insurers can no longer charge different premiums based on gender.

Yes! It is a victory for male drivers everywhere! But is it that simple? Were insurance companies justified in over-charging men for all these years? If men and women were to both take driver risk assessments, who would come off better?
It must have angered male drivers that they have to pay more than the fairer sex due to the stereotype of the boy racer. Unfortunately, official figures back up the insurance companies’ concerns.

Insurance is all about risk and unfortunately young men are a much greater liability. In 2009, 13% of drivers reported in accidents were young males (17-24 years old). In comparison, women of the same age bracket were involved in just 8%. This evidence suggests that male drivers would benefit from a driver risk assessment.

So is it discrimination if young men are a genuine risk? Would it be unfair for insurance companies to charge more for home insurance if you lived in a bad neighbourhood? No, again it’s all about risk.

It is a topic that can be argued long into the night, but unless we are all willing to pay a flat rate for insurance and pay the same as worse drivers, then perhaps the gender difference is fully justified.


Driving Risk Management offer in-vehicle Driver Risk Assessment.

Driver Development vs the Electric Car

Monday, March 21st, 2011

If you are looking into different ways of saving fuel costs, two options you will probably consider are driver development or changing to a more fuel-efficient car.

Driver development involves teaching the driver how to be more fuel efficient. Reports show that 10%-15% savings can be achieved through eco-driving.

But if that’s not enough, you could also look into changing the vehicle itself to something more fuel-efficient. It seems as if 2011 is set to be the year of the Electric Car, with every car manufacturer releasing or planning to release a hybrid or fully electric model over the next 12 months. We take a closer look at some of the emerging market leaders of the year so far.

The Chevrolet Volt: Making headlines in the U.S., the Chevrolet Volt has already been crowned 2011 Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show only a few months after its release.  Thanks to this and an increase in public demand, General Motors are planning on putting significant investment into the model.

The Nissan Leaf: Named the 2011 European Car of the Year, the Nissan Leaf has seen massive sales all around the world and has just arrived in the UK. With an all-electric, emission-free range of 100 miles, the Nissan Leaf is ideal for those looking to travel around the city in a clean and efficient manner.

The Smart for Two: SMART has also released an electric car to enormous fanfare. Like its petrol equivalent, the SMART ForTwo allows for easier parking, but now with the added bonus of being completely green.

The Toyota Prius: Thought strictly a hybrid, we couldn’t go without mentioning the model that is arguably responsible for transforming the market and increasing demands for greener cars. Constantly popular and ever in-demand, the Prius was and still is a market game-changer.

With fuel prices steadily going up, it is no surprise consumers are turning to electric models. Even major sedan manufacturers like BMW are noticing the trend and are producing greener models such as their electric, carbon fibre Megacity Vehicle, which is due for release next year.


Driving risk management for Driver Development courses.

How efficient driving can save companies money

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

With fuel prices going up and up, driving is rapidly becoming a major expense for companies. Those with fleets of lorries and vans are finding themselves especially hard hit, but there is a way that savings can be made with some simple fuel efficient driving rules.

Some are obvious, such as making sure your vehicles have regular MOTs, ensuring that the tyres are fully inflated and making sure the vehicle carries as little weight as possible. However seeing as many companies that use fleets work in logistics, saving weight isn’t always an option. There are some rules though, that if followed, can facilitate fuel efficient driving and therefore greatly save costs.

Driving speed is an important factor. As you’d expect, the faster you drive, the more fuel you burn so if you want to save money on your fleet, get your drivers to maintain a moderate pace. One way of doing this is to have a fuel consumption read-out, which allows the drivers to identify bad habits as well as keep track of consumption.

Changing to higher gears when the traffic allows, as well as avoiding heavy congestion, also provides savings, but there are little changes that can also assist fuel efficient driving. These include:

  • Not starting the engine until you’re ready to go
  • Driving smoothly, accelerate gently, anticipate
  • Cutting down on the air-con
  • Turn off heaters, demisters, headlights
  • Turning off the engine if you are stuck in a queue



For UK companies, Driving Risk Management offer a range of products and services to help you reduce your vehicle fleet running costs such as fuel efficient driving courses and high performance driving courses.