Why should employers care about whether their employees are talking on the phone or texting while they are on the road?

These activities, along with eating and drinking, fiddling with the stereo or navigation system, self-grooming or putting on makeup, divert the driver’s attention from the task of driving and can cause a distracted driving incident.

Did you know that the No. 1 cause of workplace deaths is car crashes? And, that 66 percent of drivers were distracted within six seconds of a crash? Or, that on a typical day, about 700 people are injured in distracted driving accidents, many of them on the clock? Or, finally, that employers are being held liable up to $25 million for employee crashes?

The numbers show that distracted driving is both dangerous to the health and wellbeing of our workforce and that it can be costly for employers. 

October is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This month, as part of their efforts to reduce the number of distracted driving incidents the National Safety Council, AAA, and other organizations are urging the public to commit to disconnecting from any electronics while driving.  

It’s an important step safety’s sake that employers may want to consider.

In recent years, many companies have taken advantage of developing vehicle technology to equip their vehicles with everything from Bluetooth phone connections, the internet and computer screens, so their drivers can stay connected and get their work done most efficiently.

But studies show that electronics are also increasingly tempting drivers to take their eyes off the road. 

Three types of distractions

There are three main types of driving distractions, manual, visual and cognitive.

  • Manual distractions are those where you move your hands from the wheel.
  • Visual distractions are those where you focus your eyes away from the road.
  • A cognitive distraction is when you’re mind wanders away from the task of driving.

According to traffic experts, texting – the most dangerous driving activity – involves all three types of distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined that sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), text messaging increases the risk of crash or near-crash by 23 times.

But texting is not the only culprit in distracted driving incidents. Talking on the phone, even on a hand-less device, can impair the driver the same way being intoxicated would. Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident than undistracted drivers, the research shows.  

Employers can positively impact their employee’s driving habits in several ways:

  • Educate your workforce about the dangers of distracted driving.
  • Let them know that they don’t need to immediately respond to your text or email or phone call while they are on the road.
  • Invest in safe driving training for your most frequent drivers.
  • Set a company distracted driving policy.
  • Ask your employees to make a safe driving pledge.

If you want to develop a distracted driving policy but don’t know how, TSS is here to help. Give us a call at (877) 225-1431 and we’ll provide you with all the resources and training you need to keep your employees safe and protect your business from distracted driving costs.