There’s no doubt distracted driving has become a nationwide epidemic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2017, over 3,100 people were killed in a crash involving a distracted driver. Distraction-affected crashes caused 9% of the total fatal crashes that year, whether drivers took their eyes off the road to answer a cellphone, adjust the radio or fiddle with the navigation system.
Why Create a Corporate Distracted Driving Policy?
It only takes a second or two for a distracted driving crash to occur. Perhaps an employee looks down to read an incoming text message, and in those few seconds the car in front of them brakes to miss an animal darting out in the road. That employee doesn’t have the necessary time to react, slams into that car and injures both himself and the other driver. This type of distracted driving is all too common today.
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. Many people cannot resist the urge to answer those incoming texts, emails and phone calls when they’re on the road to stay up to date on work, even if they should be focused on the task at hand: getting to their destination safely.
Your employees are your most valuable asset, and employers have an obligation to protect their employees and others with whom they’re sharing the road. Hands-on driver training is the first step in making sure your employees are confident, safe drivers, especially when your company utilizes cars, vans or trucks driven by employees on a regular basis.
The next step is to create a policy regarding distracted driving. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers outright ban texting while driving. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) texting is banned for all drivers in 48 states and the District of Columbia.
What to Include in Your Corporate Distracted Driving Policy
When creating your corporate distracted driving policy, the most important aspect is to ban employees from using handheld cellphones while operating a vehicle. This should include answering or making calls, engaging in phone conversations and reading or responding to texts or emails. In fact, any work-related communication should be banned while behind the wheel, and this includes while operating both corporate and personal vehicles.
You might be worried that banning cell phones will affect your employees’ productivity, but the National Safety Council (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!
The policy should clearly state that should employees need to use their cellphones for any reason, they should pull over to the side of the road or wait until they have arrived at their destination. Additionally, require employees to:
- Turn phones off or on silent mode when they get into the vehicle
- Adjust voicemail greetings to indicate they may be unavailable at certain times while driving
- Make clients, vendors and other business partners aware of your distracted driving policy so they have an understanding of why phone calls and messages may go unanswered for a period of time
- Sign and date the policy and keep a copy in their files
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.
OSHA reports that motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage and lost productivity. Keep your employees safe – create your corporate distracted driving policy today.