We live in a time where being connected has become commonplace. Everywhere you turn, someone is staring at a screen, catching up on social media updates, reading the news or texting a friend. This has given rise to distracted behaviour and while many may consider it to be an annoying habit, it is generally considered harmless – up to the point where you get behind the wheel of your car.

A recent Distracted Driving Survey by Matrix, found that 22% of respondents admit to texting, calling or checking social media while driving. Of course, this is not only a South African phenomenon. In Alberta, Canada, claims for distracted driving increased by 58% over the past two years. Furthermore, a survey conducted in the US last year, also found that seven out of 10 people use their smartphone while driving.

Combating the scourge of distracted driving

Globally, reports indicate that drivers who do not pay attention while on the road increase their risk of ignoring traffic lights, swerving into other lanes and rear-ending other cars because they cannot stop in time. Sadly, there are significant consequences beyond a simple bumper-bashing.

The problem has become so pervasive that an automotive manufacturer was prompted a few years ago, to launch a social media campaign aimed at educating people about the dangers of using smart devices while driving.

Part of routine

So, if this is so dangerous, why do people still insist on checking their social media while driving?

Part of this can be attributed to our general need to be connected, around the clock. With the distinction between office hours and personal life virtually non-existent, there is a constant rush from one appointment to the other, with driving being used as the best time to catch up on emails, calls and social conversation.

In South Africa, it is against the law to use a mobile device while driving and motorists face the risk of being issued heavy fines if caught. However, people view this as more of an inconvenience than as a reason to change their behaviour. The reality is, that driving style and behaviour is something that every motorist should be aware of, if bad driving habits are to be reduced and road safety improved.

The best way to achieve this is to harness the technology that has given rise to the problem in the first place.

Technology for change

With the help of innovative technology, such as the Matrix Smartphone App, drivers can actively monitor their driving style. In turn, this can be used to reduce maintenance on their cars and save them fuel costs.

Being more attentive to how we drive, will help contribute to less accidents and potentially reduced insurance premiums. The gamification of driving behaviour (i.e. getting rewarded points for things such as driving under the speed limit, not performing hard braking maneuvers, and the like) will give rise to advocates for safe driving and road usage.

Ultimately, it is all about creating a culture of change and providing people with tangible benefits to being focused on their driving. Using social media while driving is the newest deadly trend. Resisting the temptation to use your phone while driving is not only a good idea, but it could mean the difference between getting to your destination safely or becoming a statistic.

To find out how you can monitor and improve your driving behaviour, download the Matrix Smartphone App, or visit the Matrix Internet Tracking platform for more information.

*For MX2 & MX3 customers