Put the Brakes on Your Employees’ Distracted Driving

Research shows that dis­trac­tions are respon­si­ble for near­ly 80 per­cent of vehi­cle acci­dents.

By Daniel Brown, Risk Con­trol Tech­ni­cal Man­ag­er, Trav­el­ers

These days, most peo­ple under­stand that dis­tract­ed dri­ving is dan­ger­ous, yet the urge to stay con­nect­ed and pro­duc­tive com­pels many to use their phones while dri­ving any­way. Research con­duct­ed by the Vir­ginia Tech Trans­porta­tion Insti­tute shows that these and oth­er dis­trac­tions are respon­si­ble for near­ly 80 per­cent of vehi­cle acci­dents, and the prob­lem isn’t just a con­cern for every­day dri­vers.

Since the Nation­al Safe­ty Coun­cil (NSC) reports that the aver­age cost of a work-relat­ed motor vehi­cle injury claim is around $69,000, any busi­ness that has employ­ees who dri­ve as part of their job duties should be con­cerned about dis­tract­ed dri­ving. This is espe­cial­ly true for com­pa­nies with a fleet of dri­vers who are often on the roads for many hours per day, and may be con­tact­ed via cell phones sev­er­al times dur­ing a giv­en shift.

Even though many state and fed­er­al rules now exist to restrict the use of mobile devices while dri­ving, the prob­lem per­sists. The num­ber of peo­ple injured in dis­trac­tion-relat­ed crash­es in 2012 totaled 421,000, up nine per­cent from the pri­or year.[1]

To help com­bat the prob­lem, employ­ers should address dis­trac­tion effec­tive­ly. Yet, in a sur­vey of Trav­el­ers’ fleet cus­tomers, only 27 per­cent report­ed hav­ing a for­mal pol­i­cy on dis­tract­ed dri­ving that was strict­ly enforced.

Whether you already have a for­mal pol­i­cy or rec­og­nize the need for one, there are four steps that can help make your pol­i­cy more effec­tive:

Cre­ate— Devel­op a for­mal, writ­ten pol­i­cy stat­ing your organization’s posi­tion on mobile device use and oth­er dis­trac­tions while dri­ving.  This pol­i­cy should apply to every­one in your orga­ni­za­tion who dri­ves a vehi­cle, no mat­ter their posi­tion.

Com­mu­ni­cate— To be most effec­tive, safe­ty poli­cies should be com­mu­ni­cat­ed repeat­ed­ly. Have every employ­ee who dri­ves acknowl­edge in writ­ing that they have read, under­stand and will abide by the poli­cies. Then, send reg­u­lar mes­sag­ing to employ­ees via emails, newslet­ters, and bul­letin board post­ings to com­mu­ni­cate the pol­i­cy.

Fol­low—Man­agers and office staff should lead by exam­ple.  Let employ­ees know that while they are dri­ving, no phone call or email is more impor­tant than their safe­ty. To fur­ther prove that point, man­agers and oth­er staff should defer con­ver­sa­tions with employ­ees until they are safe­ly parked.

Pro­mote – Man­agers should define the safe dri­ving prac­tices and expect­ed behav­iors of those that dri­ve for any busi­ness pur­pose. They should also take the appro­pri­ate steps to under­stand who is fol­low­ing these poli­cies, and active­ly pro­mote the desired behav­ior.

Uti­liz­ing the four steps out­lined above, enforc­ing the pol­i­cy and hav­ing man­age­ment com­mit to a cul­ture of safe­ty by being the exam­ple, can help com­pa­nies and their fleet of dri­vers under­stand the impor­tance of focus­ing on dri­ving while behind the wheel. It’s not only the com­pa­ny that is count­ing on its dri­vers to stay focused while dri­ving; fam­i­ly, friends and oth­er motorists shar­ing the road are also count­ing on them to dri­ve respon­si­bly.

 


[1] Source: U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, Distraction.gov, Key Facts and Sta­tis­tics.

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