How to Control Distracted Driving
Ten percent of fatal crashes and 15 percent of injury crashes in 2015 involved distracted driving. It may actually be more. Here are some tips to help eliminate distracted driving.
Distracted driving is a major problem on our roads and highways. Ten percent of fatal crashes and 15 percent of injury crashes in 2015 involved distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute. But those numbers are understated, says the National Safety Council. The NSC estimates cellphone use alone caused 27 percent of car crashes in 2015.
Here are five things you need to do if you want to reduce or eliminate distracted driving:
1. Consider the Full Extent of the Problem
There are three types of distractions:
Visual — taking your eyes off the road. Example: Looking at a GPS device or trying to read something in your car.
Manual — taking your hands off the wheel. Example: Reaching for something on the floor or in the back seat.
Cognitive — taking your mind off driving. Example: Falling asleep.
The most prevalent form of distracted driving, texting, involves all three distractions. Some people might think distractions like texting are okay when they do it themselves, because they will do it “responsibly” and make the distraction brief enough to avoid any problems. But they should consider how they would probably react to someone they saw texting while driving. Most people would probably instinctively engage their best defensive driving skills at that point and try to distance themselves from the texter as soon as they could.
2. Use Technology
Some experts think technology offers the best solutions for reducing distracted driving.
Cell phone blocking: Blocking apps can keep people from using their cellphones while driving. These apps can be downloaded and activated to the cellphone or installed in vehicles as a “geofence” or virtual barrier around drivers, preventing them from sending or receiving transmissions. Many providers permit certain white-listed incoming phone numbers and will allow the driver to make an outgoing call in an emergency.
Telematics: GPS can provide real-time information about a vehicle’s location and rate of speed, and even whether drivers are using a seat belt.
On board cameras or car "black boxes": Some units, called dash cams, record drivers (“cabin view”) as well as the front view of the road ahead and can be useful in a variety of ways. The recorded video can be used to monitor driving habits, including ensuring that drivers refrain from cellphone use, as well as providing evidence in the event of a traffic accident.
Eye-tracking software: Car companies such as Audi have been developing ways to mitigate driving without awareness (DWA), or subconscious driving with little or no conscious attention paid to the surrounding traffic.
3. Hire safe drivers
It may seem obvious, but many times employers hire people whose driving responsibilities are only incidental to the job. So they often never bother to obtain those employees’ driving records or if they do, don’t critically review them.
Nevertheless, employers should obtain motor vehicle records (MVRs) for all job candidates who might be driving. Frequent moving violations and of course driving under the influence violations are red flags.
If you decide to give only minimal weight to a candidate’s poor driving record because of more important considerations, then at least impose restrictions on their ability to drive for work.
If driving is a big part of the job, you should include a road test as part of the interview process. Focus on evaluating the candidate’s safe driving behavior and defensive driving techniques.
4. Everyone Should Drive Safely
Review employee MVRs annually. Prepare and distribute to all of your employees safe-driving policies. In particular,
- Stress the importance of good defensive driving skills and highlight for everyone your company’s "no texting while driving" policy.
- Explain that if a GPS device needs to be programed, you expect the driver to pull off the road to set it.
5. Be Prepared When Accidents Happen
Accidents will happen, whether from distracted driving or not. Include an accident kit in your company vehicles. In addition to flares and signage, such kits used to include disposable cameras and a list of phone numbers. With cell phones these items are not necessarily important to include anymore.
But give employees appropriate phone numbers to call to report the accident and advise them to take pictures. Tell them to avoid discussing fault but work with police to document the accident.
Try to use an accident as a “teachable moment,” gleaning from it tips on how to avoid similar situations in the future.
If everyone in the firm commits to reducing distracted driving, not only will accidents decrease, but your auto insurance rates should decrease as well. Please give us a call if there’s anything we can do to help.
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How to Control Distracted Driving
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