ID4208092 ID4208092

Distracted Driving Crisis in the Trucking Industry

Distracted driving is a crisis in the Trucking Industry, for a variety of reasons. Truck parking shortage is one of the biggest challenges for driving on busy roads. If you think an average vehicle is difficult to park and fit in tight parking spots, imagine how difficult it is when a driver must park a 50-foot truck. As a result, the unavailability of secure parking spaces leads to the trucking industry being plagued with accidents, arson, and hijacking crises, caused directly by distracted driving.

In Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, unsecured parking spaces for trucks account for most of the theft cases. Truck drivers are mandated to make these stops to comply with regulatory requirements, and therefore rely on secure parking spaces for drive breaks, and even a good night’s sleep. Because of parking space unavailability, most trucks at depot and distribution centers park outside on vacant plots of land or down the road which can result in some dire situations.

Service (HOS) regulations require eight hours of driving time to get thirty minutes of rest, while fourteen hours get ten hours. Many drivers have admitted to breaking this regulation when they are unable to find a safe space to park in.

Once a truck is en-route, fleet managers end up having to make arrangements for stops at filling stations, and this is determined by the agreements they have with that fuel provider. Failure to secure a spot usually results in cases of distracted driving – because of fatigue and boredom, drivers become prone to distractions, an act which inevitably results in unfortunate outcomes. The reality in South Africa and most parts of the world is that these stations are exceedingly rare. Truck parking shortage leads to collisions, injuries, fatalities, workforce challenges, lost productivity, and unsafe working conditions for drivers. This article aims to highlight some of the parking challenges facing fleets, and how Geotab Africa can address them. 

According to Arrive Alive, in South Africa, road traffic data indicates that the high rate of road crashes that usually result in alarming fatality rates are caused by fatigue and distracted driving. These statistics include truck drivers, especially those making long-distance trips.

This is a clear indication that there is a great need for convenient, safe, and comfortable truck stops on all major roads within the country. Several studies show that driver drowsiness is a significant road hazard. A study by the Interdisciplinary Accident Research Centre of KwaZulu-Natal, titled Truck Drivers, and Road Crashes in South Africa, indicates that the distracted driving challenges faced by truck drivers are 39% fatigue-related, whilst the main cause of road crashes are 41% fatigue-related.  

What does the South African regulation say?

The research recommended that the South African government pass legislation that mandates truck drivers to come to a halt between 11 pm and 5 am for a compulsory rest, as the research discovered that most drivers sleep +- 4 hours per 24 hours. This means truck drivers require stops that guarantee them and the asset some safety. The Interdisciplinary Accident Research Centre called for and suggested that safer and cleaner truck stops should be set up along different long-distance routes. These should be “lay-bys constructed with stadium lights and security so that drivers can sleep in relative safety” wrote Arrive Alive. The research puts great emphasis, especially on the N3 because drivers regard the national highway as a dangerous route.  

The researchers also called for efficient, two-way communication between truck drivers and fleet managers. These solutions can act as a mechanism to warn drivers of possible hijacking situations and crashes. It also suggests regular training that will improve driver skills, especially for those carrying specialized, hazardous, or dangerous goods like chemicals and fuels.  

What happens when truck drivers struggle with parking?

Well, the results are dire! Regulations require drivers to make stops during the trip, not only to rest but also to perform vehicle inspections to ensure the truck is in decent shape and ready to finish the entire trip. Failure to do this does not only affect the business, driver, and vehicle, but other motorists sharing the road with the truck. This creates an environment that is unsafe and not conducive to drivers’ health and well-being. This reality also creates a backlog of workforce challenges for fleet managers and a loss in productivity which leads to unnecessary costs and lost revenue for drivers and employees. And as the industry becomes more inclusive, with the rise of female truck drivers, the lack of safe and secure parking spaces does not make matters any easier with the unavailability of washrooms, rest areas, and proper facilities for women.  

Another problem here is that the unavailability of parking spaces leads to distracted driving. When a driver operates a vehicle for long hours without making the required stops, they might get bored and zone out, and/or use a cell phone. Distractions while driving are a fundamental problem for the trucking industry – drivers are more likely to be involved in a road accident, either by causing it or by being unable to avoid it on time. With truck driving, even a tight turn or sudden braking can result in lives lost, and damage to assets. Distracted driving has been cited as a major contributor to the many accidents on the treacherous stretch of the N2 between KwaDukuza and Dokodweni.

Let’s have a look at recent events?!

The North Coast Courier reports that distracted driving on this road has led to fifteen people losing their lives on the N2 this year alone. In June, three people died in a multi-truck collision on the same road. IPSS Medical Rescue Managing Director, Dylan Meyrick stated that “on average we deal with a serious accident at least once a week, while fatal accidents happen about monthly”. They also indicated that they have responded to 105 accidents since the beginning of 2023, with 10 of those being cases of fatalities – “too many motorists drive while using their cell phones, even texting”.      

It is a reality we all are aware of; it will take time for the government to roll out the suggested parking solutions and for the industry initiatives to gain traction to create a safe environment for everyone. Whilst we are waiting for this problem to be irradicated, fleet managers can fold their sleeves and take matters into their own hands and keep drivers safe with telematics solutions offered by Geotab Africa to aid this problem in a few clicks! 

Let us start with tracking fleet activity and movement.

Geotab Africa’s tracking solutions allow fleet managers to have a clear overview of their fleet’s activity in real-time, including when drivers cannot find parking. Geotab Africa’s GO tracking device collects rich data on vehicle location, speed, trip distance and time, engine idling, and more. Our tracking solution allows you to get more out of your assets whether they are on the move or stationery. Once fleet managers understand the routes that work best for their trips, they can build a trip accurately with enough stops. Fleet managers can plan drivers’ routes ahead of time, and work with them remotely using our two-way communication channels if they encounter challenges en route.  

As a fleet manager, you can use Geotab Africa’s route optimization feature on our fleet management platform, MyGeotab, to locate and identify safe, well-lit parking facilities that are equipped with proper facilities for both women and men well in advance before a trip. Our telematics solutions can make it quite easy for fleet managers to create and route drivers to company-authorized stops and make parking reservations for trucks, so drivers do not struggle to find parking, or worse, be forced to park illegally on off-ramps or roadways.

Our route optimization feature takes the tediousness out of fleet management by doing away with manual route planning which takes time and is prone to errors. Automated route planning made possible by a route planner app, can provide fleet managers with optimized and accurate routes in less than 30 seconds. The route planner will not overlook things like traffic, weather, and preferred delivery windows.  

Managing driver fatigue also comes in handy to reduce collisions, especially if a driver is unable to make a stop because of parking unavailability. Driver fatigue is often seen as an underestimated danger of being on the road. Because of long driving hours and inconsistent schedules, drivers often find themselves driving while tired and drowsy. It is therefore the fleet manager’s responsibility to ensure that drivers maintain and encourage ethical vehicle operation. Geotab Africa can make things easy for fleet managers with its fleet dashboard camera integrations that guarantee added benefits for fleet management. This solution offers businesses: 

  • A recording of in-vehicle events, including collision footage, and saving the evidence if any collisions result in a lawsuit.  
  • Spotting distracted or impaired driving patterns; not only in fatigue cases, but also eating, drinking, smoking, or using a cell phone. 
  • A real-time view of the driver’s routes that can be triggered by events like speeding or harsh braking, allowing for fast action in potentially dangerous situations. 

These cameras are also handy for evidence collection when the truck gets hijacked. The footage will show the events as they happened and make it easy to identify the criminals.  

With cell phone use being cited for distracted driving, Geotab Africa’s Drive App can aid this problem for both fleet managers and drivers. The Drive App is a smart mobile app that works with Geotab’s GO telematics device to meet compliance regulations and keep drivers safe. The app has a messaging feature that creates a two-way communication channel with the fleet management software. Drivers can use this app for any fleet and trip inquiries with custom responses allowing drivers to respond without needing to type and require only a few clicks. Drivers can also use the app to record their Hours of Service, and complete vehicle inspections – this way fleet managers are always updated on fleet compliance with real-time access to information in MyGeotab.  


Parking space unavailability does not have to be a challenge for truck drivers and fleet managers when a fleet is equipped with Geotab Africa telematics. The nature of the trucking industry requires drivers to be both mentally and physically capable of driving for several hours for many miles without falling asleep behind the wheel. And to prevent this, break stops are dependent on the availability of secure and safe parking spaces. Geotab Africa’s telematics solutions can make trip routing easy for companies to scout out safe, and secure parking places with the proper amenities in advance of trips.  

Click on this link  Home – Geotab Africa to learn more about our telematics solutions. Alternatively, you can reach out to our team of experts.  

Join the 3.7 million subscribers (about twice the population of New Mexico) that benefit from our invaluable fleet management tool – Request a Demo!