If your business relies on vehicles that are driven by your employees, then distracted driving presents a serious threat to your people, as well as your business. Anytime a driver is manipulating a cell phone to dial, text, talk, access email or other data, navigate, or access the internet represents at least a 4 times greater chance of a collision and a dramatic increase in the probability of a disabling injury or fatality.
I think it is fair to say that employees who are in the scope of their employment are more likely to be involved in distracted driving than the rest of the driving population. Technology has increased to the point where the American workforce is now relying on portable electronic devices more than ever. This is a major reason why distracted driving has reached epidemic levels. Also to be considered is the fact that many employees are driving commercial vehicles – such as box trucks and vans – which have much worse driver visibility than traditional passenger cars and are more difficult to control or slow down when an emergency occurs. This contributes to the dangers of distracted driving in the workforce.
Even in the best driving conditions, driver distraction can be extremely dangerous. However, when you add workday stress, bad weather and traffic, you have a recipe for disaster. When you own a business, you have to remind your employees to keep their hands on the wheel – at all times – and their eyes focused on the road. This is why I say distracted driving has become a new universe of risk.
Tips for Distracted Driving Prevention
If you want to take steps to safeguard your business against the risks that are caused by distracted driving, then use the tips here.
- Create, constantly communicate and regularly enforce safe driving policies that encourage employees to drive alert, buckled, cautious, and defensive. (ABCD). Train employees to move over and stop their vehicles if they are tempted to use their phones.
- Confirm that the other company policies reinforce your safe driving policies.
- Consider using technology that not only tracts company vehicles, but can also keep tabs on driving performance and conduct behind the wheel.
- Find ways to minimize risks for emergency or unavoidable conversations. Direct your drivers to find the closest, safe driving area where they are able to safely use technology.
- Provide education to drivers about the risks and possible consequences for driving while distracted. Distraction can come from several sources: visual distraction (taking their eyes from the road); manual distraction (taking hands from the wheel to hold or reach for something); cognitive distraction (talking to a passenger, day dreaming or other types of preoccupations).
- Provide education to casual or part-time drivers who responsible for operating personal vehicles for the company on how important it is to drive safely.
The Liability of Distracted Driving
Unfortunately, if an employee is distracted while behind the wheel and on company business, the company can be held liable in the event that employee is involved in a collision. This can result in extremely high costs for the business. While not all accidents can be avoided, good policies and keeping safe driving high on the company agenda can help minimize the risk.