The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Written by Peggy Drescher
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stats show that while Americans drove less in 2020 due to the pandemic, there were still an estimated 6 million accidents and 38,680 deaths. The main behavioral causes were impaired driving, speeding and failure to wear a seat belt. Two causes on the rise were distracted driving (accounting for over 3,000 deaths last year) and road rage. We’re going to dig into these two causes in this article.
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts your attention from driving. This includes talking, texting, eating and drinking, using phone, changing the stereo, etc. How many people have you seen blow through red lights? Chances are they were distracted by something causing them to miss the red light. –PRO DRIVING TIP – if you are first in line at a red light, when it changes to green DO NOT proceed through the intersection for 3-5 seconds and look both ways before you do.
Did you know that texting will take your eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds? This amounts to driving the length of a football field at 55 MPH with your eyes closed! Drivers using cell phones are four times as likely to be in a crash and about 1 of every 4 motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use. Those that are texting are 8-23 times more likely to cause a crash.
If you haven’t had a safety topic on Distracted Driving, now is the time to do so. During your meeting, discuss your company’s stance on cell phone usage while operating a company vehicle, because if an accident occurs on the job, it not only affects your business but also your employees and their families.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels states:
“OSHA’s message to all companies whose employees drive on the job is straightforward: It is your responsibility and legal obligation to have a clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against texting while driving.”
In addition, nearly every state has passed some sort of statewide law against distracted driving. There are plenty of resources that have sample cell phone usage policies, however, one that you could use as a reference is from the NSC.org inside of their Safe Driving kit.
Now, to discuss road rage or just plain erratic drivers. Road rage includes lane weaving, running red lights, speeding, tailgating, making obscene hand gestures, yelling verbal insults and even inflicting physical harm.
I’m sure everyone has seen this before or perhaps even participated in any of these – have you ever been driving behind someone going 70 MPH and have them intentionally drop a piece of metal out of their window? I have – and I am lucky it hit the bottom of my car but the sound was like a bomb went off. What came out of my mouth was not very peaceful. Besides it making me nervous to continue the 2-hour drive I still had to accomplish, I had bad thoughts about the driver for quite a while.
If road rage happens to one of your crew during the work day what do you think that does to their performance? I suggest having a safety discussion and ask your employees if they have any examples, I bet you’ll get some interesting stories to discuss.
Here are a few ways to combat the urge to participate in road rage:
- Provide your crew with the resources to get the job done correctly before they leave the shop so they are not stressed about the work for the day.
- Teach breathing techniques to use in difficult situations. They truly do work!
- Have all employees go through a defensive driving course once per year.
- Investigate apps for cell phone blocking technology and safe driving
In addition, if you need help with incorporating driver safety into your safety program, reach out to an ArboRisk team member to enroll in our Thrive Safety Package and begin working one-on-one with our industry experts.
Listed below are a few other links that have great resources for safe driving topics, free posters and even surveys that your employees can take to score their driving. If you need help with developing a safety topic on this subject, I would be happy to help. Stay safe out there!
GHSA State Laws – Distracted Driving