Lessons from Distracted Driving Awareness Month

June is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and while it is quickly drawing to a close, the message remains: Distracted driving is escalating, with 25% more vehicle accidents resulting from drivers talking or texting on cellphones. More cars on the road, especially during summer months, also translates to more accidents.

Organizations with fleets should take note as motor vehicle crashes are the number-one cause of work-related deaths, accounting for 24% of all fatal occupational injuries, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). On-the-job crashes are also costly, with employers sustaining costs of more than $24,500 per property damage crash and $150,000 per injury crash.

Zurich sums up NSC statistics:
Employers can and are being held liable for damages resulting from employee accidents. “We might expect an employer to be held liable for a crash involving a commercial driver’s license holder who was talking on a cell phone with dispatch about a work-related run at the time of an incident—especially if the employer had processes or a workplace culture that made drivers feel compelled to use cell phones while driving,” the NSC said.

The lines believed to exist between employment-related and personal or private life get blurred in some cases involving:

  • Cell phones owned by employees as well as employer-provided equipment
  • Vehicles that were employee-owned as well as employer-owned or leased
  • Situations where employees were driving during non-working hours or were engaged in personal phone calls

To protect themselves and their employees, the NSC recommended that organizations implement and enforce a total ban policy.

“The best practice is to prohibit all employees from using any cell phone device while driving in any vehicle during work hours or for work-related purposes. Regarding off-the-job hours, precedent has been set by lawsuits. Thus employers may want to extend their policies to cover off-the-job use of company-provided wireless devices, use of personally-owned devices that are reimbursed by the company, and use of devices in company-provided vehicles. All work-related cell phone use while driving should be banned 24/7,” the NSA advised.

Companies should also pay attention to other common distractions that can lead to accidents, Zurich adds:

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2 thoughts on “Lessons from Distracted Driving Awareness Month

  1. Dear Ms McDonald

    I’m filing an incident report tomorrow with the senior center and attaching your excellent article to the report! Last week our tour bus driver was driving distracted and frankly, the senior center staff seem more intent on keeping the driver than keeping us safe.

    A little Background
    I travel a lot of buses and am horrified at what I see looking down into cars. I also have had a few harrowing bus rides to and from casinos in Northern California while the drivers ate, talk and texted often during bad storms. Last week was a senior bus tour to San Francisco. My friend and I were in the first seats to the right of the driver with a clear view of his hands and instrumentation. I chatted with my seat mate and told her that I usually saw 3 out of 5 cars out the window on their cell phones. Then I glanced over at OUR bus driver that on 3 previous trips proved to be a safe and professional driver. He was scrolling and texting on a hand held phone for over 5 minutes during rush hour traffic crawling south out of the City on Highway 280 to Silicon Valley. I brought it to the tour leader’s attention, but the leader only softly asked him if he was checking routes. She didn’t change his behavior and the leader didn’t stick around to ensure he got off his hand held mobile as he continued driving 40 of us home. After she walked away I told him loudy that what he was doing was dangerous and to stop. He did finally. I’m more fearful and anxious now to take bus trips.

    I’m filing an incident report tomorrow with the senior center and attaching your excellent article. Education is key. It took alot of digging on the internet to find your article but it was worth the time.

  2. Thanks Marsha. You’re right, it’s a growing problem. Sorry you’ve had this issue with your own driver.

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