April is National Distracted Driver Month

While running a few errands the other day, I needed to make a left turn out of my neighborhood.  Usually, there isn’t any traffic on either of these streets,  but I looked left, no traffic.  When I looked right, a car was approaching turning right onto my street.  After waiting, I looked left again but was entering the road while looking.  Unfortunately, a pickup was barreling down on me, and it looked like a crash was inevitable. The young man operating the pickup had great reflexes.  He turned onto my street, getting his truck under control, and didn’t hit anything.

Neither one of us planned on an accident that day.  I assumed the road would be clear and he had the right of way and didn’t anticipate a car entering the roadway from a side street.  All I can say is thank goodness for his quick reflexes.  Why am I bringing this up?

April is National Distracted Driver Month.  The number one cause of workplace fatalities is vehicle incidents.  I wasn’t even distracted when I pulled out, I was going by my past experience and that could have been my fatal mistake.  

According to the National Safety Council, 8 people are killed every day by a distracted driver.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the first 6 months of 2021, there were 20,160 fatalities.  That is an 18.4% increase over 2020 and the largest number of fatalities since 2006.

Even if driving isn’t a part of your employees’ job duties, they still have to get to work and for most, that means driving.  

What are the main distractions?

  1. Visual – Eyes off the road
  • Reading a text message
  • Looking up directions
  • “Rubbernecking” (that is, craning one’s neck to get a better view) at a crash site
  1. Manual – Hands off the wheel
  • Reaching for things inside the vehicle
  • Using a handheld device
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup

3. Cognitive – Mind off driving

  • Talking on the phone
  • Arguing with a passenger
  • Thinking about your next appointment

Talking and texting on a phone are driving distractions.  Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distractions.  Hands-free phones are not the solution.  Research shows that they are just as distracting as a handheld phone.

How can you prevent distracted driving at work? Use the following recommendations to prevent distracted driving.

  • Ban all phone use (texting, handheld, hands-free) while driving a company vehicle and ban the use of company-issued phones while driving a personal vehicle.
  • Require workers to pull over in a safe location to look up directions, text, or make or receive a call.
  • Consider using phone-blocking technology to limit workers’ cell phone use while driving.
  • Consider using technology that detects and warns drivers of distracted driving behaviors (such as cameras that detect when eye gaze is not on the road).
  • Prepare workers before implementing these policies by communicating:
    • That driving is their primary job when they are behind the wheel
    • How distracted driving puts them at risk of a crash
    • What they need to do to comply with your company’s policies
    • What action you will take if they do not follow these policies
  • Consider having workers acknowledge that they have read and understand these policies.
  • Provide workers with information to help them talk to their families about distracted driving.

If you need assistance in preparing a Distracted Driver Policy or Defensive/Distracted Driver Safety Training, please email [email protected] or contact Teddi @ 714.717.9389.

Safe Driving!

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