Preventing Distracted Driving In The Workplace

Distracted driving. It’s been a growing concern for years. But, with today’s technology always at our fingertips (cell phones, MP3 players, GPS, etc.) there are more distractions than ever while we’re driving.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 1.24 million deaths per year around the world are caused by car accidents, truck accidents, and other roadway accidents. The accidents are caused by distracted drivers using cell phones and electronics, drunk drivers, unsafe driving through work zones, and other bad habits taking the driver’s attention off the road.

What is distracted driving? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.

Studies show that the risk of a crash is four times as likely when someone is using a cell phone. Hands-free devices have not been found to add safety while driving. The brain is distracted by conversation, regardless of the device.

Because texting requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention, the NHTSA states that it is “by far the most alarming distraction.” Sending or receiving a text message takes the driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field without looking at the road.

Cell phones are a major factor in distracted driving, but they’re not the only one. Other common distractions include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system, such as GPS
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
What can be done to end distracted driving? The best way to end it is to educate everyone on the dangers of distracted driving and the potential consequences it holds. Distracted drivers on the job could pose a liability to their employer if an accident occurs. Employers can establish a no cell phone while driving policy to eliminate that potential. The NHTSA has sample policies that can be downloaded and implemented in the workplace. Visit www.distraction.gov for more information.
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