According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2019. Even the most attentive drivers can become distracted behind the wheel, but if your employees become distracted while driving for work, the consequences for themselves and their passengers could turn catastrophic in an instant.
But what exactly is distracted driving, and how can you encourage your people to drive more safely? Here, CM Regent provides some definitions and tips:
Distracted driving encompasses anything that:
- Takes your eyes off the road – a visual distraction.
- Takes your mind off the road – a cognitive distraction.
- Takes your hands off the steering wheel – a physical distraction.
While hands-free devices for talking on the phone can be helpful for avoiding the first and third types of distractions, they do nothing about the second type—cognitive distractions. In fact, they can actually provide a false sense of security for a person who is using such a device while driving.
National Safety Council research shows that talking on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone:
- Doubles the risk of a rear-end collision.
- Slows a person’s reaction time by 18%. The University of Utah conducted a study which shows drivers who used their cellphones had slower reaction times than drivers who had a blood alcohol content level of 0.08.
- Increases the probability of running a traffic light.
- Makes drivers “look” but not “see.” Drivers tend to miss 50% of what’s in their driving.
- Contributes to nearly 25% of all car crashes.
- Quadruples the risk of being in a crash that results in injury.
Now that you know just how dangerous distracted driving is, the question is, what can you do about it? For starters, as an employer, you can implement a strict no-devices policy—with steep consequences for employees who take out their phone while behind the wheel. If that is not enough to discourage would-be distracted drivers, offer these suggestions to them for avoiding the temptation to use their cellphone or become bothered by other distractions:
- Turn off their cellphone before starting their vehicle.
- Send calls directly to voicemail, informing callers they are driving and unable to take calls.
- Limit the number of people in the vehicle. If that is impossible (as with a school bus, for example), clearly identify supervisors who will maintain order so the driver can focus on driving.
- Never eat while driving.
- Make adjustments to their seat, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before getting on the road.