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Save Your Employees: Putting an End to Driver Distractions

Posted by Tim McCarty on May 9, 2017 at 12:57 PM

Tim McCarty is the associate vice president of Trident Public Risk Solutions. He has over 25 years of experience serving public entity clients and has obtained several certifications specific to risk consultants.

In the last year, driving fatalities have increased by 8%, which is the highest level it has been in 12 years...

Poor driving behaviors are the main reasons why there are so many accidents and fatalities on the road. The idea that it is possible to multitask while driving is inaccurate, seeing as a human being cannot efficiently perform multiple tasks at once. For instance, deciding to make a phone call while driving will effectively divert attention and focus toward the conversation, even if the driver is looking at the road in front of them. The driver will no longer be fully aware of their surroundings and, as a result, will be susceptible to missing a number of things, like a stop sign, a child crossing the road, road updates, etc.

Common Driver Distractions:

  • Eating/drinking behind the wheel
  • Smoking
  • Programming a navigating system
  • Cell phones

Distractions from cell phones account for 30% of collisions on the roadway. The actual number may be higher since not everyone is willing to admit to being distracted by their phone after the accident...

The American National Standard and The American Society of Safety Engineers created the ANSI/ASSE Z15.1 Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations. This document recommends that your entity create a policy statement that prohibits distracted driving and that it be disseminated to all employees.

Risk managers can also propel awareness into the community by reaching out to the mayor or other city officials and providing education on the importance of distracted driving.

There may be resistance from those in your entity regarding implementation of the policy. This resistance can even come from supervisors or other authority figures in the organization. To quell this opposition, bring studies, reports and other resources to educate everyone on the dangers of distracted driving. Your entity's insurance provider may also have additional education resources. Both the the National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have free programming materials on the subject.

Another obstacle to consider when implementing policy is inconsistency with compliance. Some supervisors may feel conflicted when administering disciplinary action to employees that commit transgressions that are common to a large number of drivers. It is important to utilize ongoing educational efforts to reinforce the policy and counteract this mentality. Enacting a policy on distracted driving will help improve the safety of your employees as well as the community.