Motor vehicle collisions account for nearly 25% of all fatal occupational injuries and are the leading cause of work-related deaths. On average, an injury-related motor-vehicle collision costs employers $175,000 per occurrence. The National Safety Council estimates at least 24% of collisions in 2010 involved drivers using mobile phones.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.
Numerous studies indicate the risk of crash is four-times as likely when the driver is utilizing a mobile phone. Hands-free devices, which have become more popular recently, do not appear to eliminate the cognitive distraction of engaging in conversation.
Mobile phones aren’t the only distractions drivers must face. Others include: eating or drinking; reading, including maps; adjusting radio/CD player; use of navigation systems; and personal grooming tasks.
Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver the NHTSA says that it is “by far the most alarming distraction.” Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field without looking.
One way to make a difference is by establishing a mobile phone policy for employees who drive on the job. The NHTSA offers the following sample policy, which you can adapt to include specific consequences of noncompliance:
In order to increase employee safety and eliminate unnecessary risks behind the wheel
(company name) has enacted a Distracted Driving Policy, effective (date). We are committed to ending the epidemic of distracted driving and have created the following rules, which apply to any employee operating a company vehicle or using a company-issued mobile phone while operating a personal vehicle.
Company employees may not use a hand-held mobile phone while operating a vehicle – whether the vehicle is in motion or stopped at a traffic light. This includes, but is not limited to answering or making phone calls, engaging in phone conversations, and reading or responding to emails, instant messages, or text messages.
Should company employees need to use their phones, they must pull over safely to the side of the road or another safe location.
Additionally, company employees are required to:
- Turn off mobile phones, or put them on silent before starting the car
- Consider modifying voice mail greetings to indicate that you are unavailable to answer calls or return messages while driving.
- Inform clients, associates, and business partners of this policy as an explanation why calls or messages may not be returned immediately.
Don’t let yourself, your family members, or one of your employees become a statistic. Make a commitment not to use mobile phones while engaged in driving. Minimize other distractions by adjusting the radio, thermostat, and navigation system before leaving the safety of a parking lot. Encourage your staff and family to do the same.
It could save a life!
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