In 2015, over 3,400 people were killed due to distracted driving. Any type of activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for any length of time is highly dangerous, and today, there are so many different ways to become distracted behind the wheel. Although many drivers report that they feel like they are safe drivers, these same drivers will also admit to using their cell phones regularly when out on the road.
April has been designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council as a way to highlight the importance of spreading the word in the workplace about this dangerous epidemic.
Why Employers Should Have a Distracted Driving Policy
While technology has made the lives of your employees better in a variety of ways, it has also increased their risk of being involved in a crash. It’s estimated that the number of people who died in car crashes has risen by 6% from 2015 to 2016, making 2016 one of the deadliest years on the road since 2007.
When your company utilizes cars, vans or trucks driven by employees on a regular basis, it’s vital to not only provide training for the safe operation of these vehicles, but to also have a policy regarding distracted driving. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers outright ban texting while driving. Many states, Ohio included, have already made texting while driving illegal, period. However, it’s not uncommon for your employees to feel like they need to answer texts and emails on their phone whenever they get a spare moment – and sometimes, that moment is when they’re behind the wheel.
Employers have an obligation to protect their employees and others with whom they’re sharing the road. The National Safety Council recommends instituting a policy that bans the use of cell phones altogether while driving, and this ban should include both handheld and hands-free devices. You might be worried that banning cell phones will affect your employees’ productivity, but the NSC states that most employers who have created such policies have seen no reduction in productivity; in fact, many companies have reported that productivity has actually improved!
What should your company’s cell phone ban cover? As mentioned above, all types of cell phones, for starters. Secondly, the ban should cover all your employees and all the vehicles within the company. Any work-related communication should be banned while behind the wheel, and this includes both corporate and personal vehicles.
Think of using cell phones in the car as you would any other type of dangerous workplace situation. The safety procedures created within your company are designed to keep employees safe while on the job. Distracted driving places not only your employees at risk for a crash, but also endangers other innocent drivers on the road.
Plus, many companies are now held responsible legally if an employee is involved in a crash. Beyond the safety reasons for creating a distracted driving policy, you also need to keep your company safe financially, too.