Did you know that a driver going just 25 mph can travel the length of four football fields during the time it takes to enter an address into a navigation app?
And navigation systems are just one of the many causes of distracted driving. Cell phones, radios, other in-vehicle technologies and eating can take drivers’ eyes and minds off the road for dangerous stretches of time. Even hands-free devices compete for drivers’ attention and can lead to big problems.
Social media is another factor, with drivers engaging with sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat and even taking (and posting) videos and photos from behind the wheel. Research shows that as many as seven in 10 people use their smartphone while driving and four in 10 use social media while on the road. Some even shoot video from behind the wheel, with 27% saying they "can do it safely while driving."
As many as one in three U.S. adults admits to using some kind of technology while driving, and the numbers are likely higher. With that many distracted drivers on the road, it's likely that many of them are your employees.
Does your company have a distracted driving policy? If not, here are five reasons to consider implementing one.
#1: Distracted Driving Kills.
“Distracted driving” is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off driving.
In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, and 3,477 people were killed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day in the U.S., approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
By establishing, implementing and enforcing a distracted driving policy, you can improve the safety of your employees, as well as others on the road.
#2: Distracted Driving Is Illegal.
Know the laws in your state. Distracted driving isn’t just dangerous — it's illegal. Most states have distracted driving laws on the books, and they're punishable by substantial fines or even jail time, depending on the severity of the offense.
In some states, it's illegal to use a phone while behind the wheel — even if it's hands free. Texting while driving is illegal in most states, and there are laws prohibiting writing and reading texts, e-mails and instant messages while on the road. Many states also prohibit drivers under a certain age from using any handheld device while driving.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits all commercial drivers from using hand-held mobile devices.
#3: Distracting Driving Can Cost Your Company Big Bucks.
The truth is, when your drivers are guilty of distracted driving, they're opening your company up to major liabilities. When an employee is on company time or driving a company vehicle, it's the company that is ultimately responsible.
According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), there were 1,600 people killed in on-the-job crashes in the United States in 2016. The cost per incident to the parent company was more than $671,000, in addition to the incalculable emotional costs. Some 239,000 people were injured in on-the-job driving crashes, at a company cost of over $68,000 per incident. This cost includes the direct costs associated with each incident, as well as related health benefits and other liability costs.
In addition, 700,000 vehicles were damaged on the job in 2016, at an average cost to companies of $24,000 per incident.
The bottom line is this: If a employee is involved in a crash while driving a company vehicle or even while using a company phone, the employer is ultimately responsible.
#4: Distracted Driving Is Bad for Business.
If your drivers are distracted because they're handling business or customer service calls from behind the wheel, they aren't doing their best to represent your company.
Not only does it look bad if an employee is driving a company vehicle while talking on the phone — or even worse, standing beside a company vehicle involved in a crash, holding up traffic in a busy intersection — but when drivers are distracted, they aren’t giving the necessary attention to their jobs.
That said, make sure your managers and leadership aren't part of the problem. Make it a policy that employees cannot call or text drivers when they're out on the road, and don't allow drivers to accept calls or texts. Instead, consider a policy of “no personal electronics while behind the wheel,” and restrict the use of navigation systems to when the vehicles are in park.
#5: Distracted Driving Is a Bad Driving Habit.
By implementing a distracted driving policy for your company, you're also helping reinforce safe driving habits for employees when they aren't on company time.
The best policy is for all drivers to adjust their mirrors, temperature, seats, radios and navigation systems before they put their vehicles in drive. Drivers should also turn off cell phones and put them out of reach to avoid the urge to answer them or read and respond to texts.
Make the dangers of distracted driving clear to your employees, so the next time they get in their vehicles, they will already have safe driving habits in place.
To learn more about how to implement a distracted driver policy and improve driver safety for your fleet, contact the Smith System team of experts today or sign up for our DriverTrainer™ course below! DriverTrainer™ is a one-day course based on The Smith5Keys® proven to reduce risks on the road. Multi-company solutions are also available for businesses with only a few drivers, and larger regional sessions are available if your business has drivers in multiple locations.