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Distracted Driving: The Deadly Workplace Epidemic

April is national Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the perfect opportunity to shed some light on what many are now calling a “workplace epidemic.”

According to Business Insurance Quotes, transportation-related deaths accounted for more than 40%- and served as the leading cause- of workplace fatalities in 2010. Distracted driving can be attributed to up to 80% of all traffic fatalities.

That same year, the U.S. Department of Transportation recommended a ban on texting while driving commercial vehicles. This policy has been put into practice by nearly all states, reported the  Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC).

However, while it may be the most commonly recognized distraction, texting is not the only cause of distracted driving accidents. Other common distractions include:

  • Reaching for an object
  • Personal grooming
  • Looking back at a child in the rear seat
  • Dialing a cell phone
  • Reading a Map

Business Insurance Quotes reported that all of these actions take the drivers eyes off the road for more than 2.9 seconds- the average time it takes a car traveling 40 mph to drive a safe distance of four car lengths.

Employers should not rely on texting bans alone when it comes to preventing distracted driving among employees. There are number of things companies can do proactively prevent distracted driving-related workplace injuries and fatalities, including:

  • Identifying employees who travel and current company processes or procedures that could be causing them to drive distracted.
  • Developing a company policy on distracted driving- many companies use the Drive Safely Work Week pledge developed by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety as guidelines for introducing a company policy.
  • Investigating technology that could help keep drivers alert.
  • Reorganizing delivery/route processes that may prevent employees from giving the drive their full attention.
  • Investigating alternatives to scheduling mandatory meetings during drive times
  • Educating employees about the dangers of distracted driving- End Distracted Driving (EndDD.org) offers free presentations to schools, workplaces and nonprofit organizations across the country.

During October 2015, The NAFA Fleet Management Association- whose members include fleet managers from corporations like FedEx and Johnson &Johnson- recommended that their members prohibit the use of all electronic devices while driving. NAFA Fleet Management CEO Phil Russo discussed withEndDD.org the seriousness of the epidemic based on his own experiences. “Every day I’m driving back and forth to work and it’s only a 15 minute drive, but there are always at least 5 people in front of me or behind me, or beside me who I pull up next to or behind and I motion to them put down the phone, hang up the phone. It’s absolutely an epidemic, it’s happening everywhere on every street in every car with every millennial, generation x, generation y, it’s happening everywhere.”

To learn how to prevent distracted driving in your organization or to schedule a free presentation, visit EndDD.org.

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