Many drivers believe they are vigilant while behind the wheel of a vehicle. But in 2016, 3,450 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Driving is a complex task that includes monitoring other drivers, watching for pedestrians and cyclists, maintaining proper following distance, and managing directions to get to a destination.
These tasks are often how drivers become distracted even for brief moments that may seem inconsequential at the time. While the media focuses on texting, taking phone calls or even watching videos, any casual glance away from the road has the potential to end up in disaster
Three Types of Distractions Affecting You and Your Drivers
Even though drivers intend to operate their vehicles safely, it’s realistic to expect some kind of distraction will be encountered when driving. Drivers can be distracted in three different ways, and the distraction itself can include any one (or more!)of these three categories:
activity that takes one or both hands off of the controls (e.g., eating and drinking, tuning the radio)
distracting a driver’s eyes from the road or from the mirrors that assist view
anything that takes our mind off of the duty of driving carefully
Many drivers perceive their own driving habits to be safe or superior to other drivers on the road. Further, per repetitive annual surveys, drivers effectively demonstrate a “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude. For example, there is fairly strong disapproval toward using a hand-held cell phone while driving (68.6%), but more than 2 in 3 drivers report talking on their cell phone while driving in the past month.
Tips To Help You and Your Drivers Avoid Distractions
All drivers should recognize that no driver is perfect, but still fully responsible for their own actions. Despite best intentions, distractions can and do occur. The following steps can help keep your drivers focused:
• Educate drivers on the risks and consequences of driving distracted at least once a year to refresh old material andlearn new trends. (see links at end of this article!)
• Ask drivers to sign a pledge committing to eliminate as many distractions from business-related travel as possible.
• Install a free app from the cell provider that automatically recognizes when a vehicle is in motion and responds to texts texts and calls with a pre-set message indicating that the driver will return their call only . . . when it is safe to do so.
• Preplan routes to minimize the distraction of looking at maps or navigation screens while driving.
• Organize personal effects within the vehicle’s cabin to make items easily accessible without reaching or looking away from the road.
What You Can Do To Encourage Safer Driving
Upgrade vehicles with forward collision warning systems, pedestrian detection and lane departure warning so that technology can help be a vigilant copilot.
If trading-in older vehicles, see if you can include automatic emergency braking and other collision avoidance systems in the new ones. These types of systems can be very helpful in detecting threats and avoiding crashes, and you can learn all about these systems at MyCarDoesWhat.org.
Share these articles with your supervisors and employees as one more way to spread the word. If you need more information about distracted driving and ways to combat its negative influence on driver safety results, consider the resources you can find by clicking the links below:
Driver Safety Tips: Distracted Driving
Network of Employers for Traffic Safety