Each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers – a 2% increase over 2014.
The Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” These types of distractions include: texting, using a cell phone, eating/drinking, talking to passengers, reading (including maps), adjusting radio, and using navigation systems.
The increasing use of smartphones and other in-vehicle technology lends itself to convenience in our multi-tasking world, but it also opens up a dangerous and potentially fatal path.
NHTSA statistics show:
- Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of handheld phones and other portable devices increases the risk of getting into a crash by 3 times.
- Studies show that drivers who send or receive text messages focus their attention away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
- Reaction time is delayed for a driver talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk.
During snow and ice management operations, companies place very expensive assets into the hands of their drivers and ask them to operate them safely. Implementing a safe driving program can help ensure drivers have their head in the game and their eyes on the road.
OSHA encourages employers to:
- Prohibit texting while driving.
- Establish work procedures and rules that do not make it necessary for workers to text while driving in order to carry out their duties.
- Set up clear procedures, times, and places for drivers’ safe use of texting and other technologies for communicating with managers, customers, and others.
- Incorporate safe communications practices into worker orientation and training.
- Eliminate financial and other incentive systems that encourage workers to text while driving.
The National Safety Council offers a free cell phone policy kit to help employers reduce crash risks and implement procedures for worker safety. Resources and communications available include a sample policy, implementation calendar and resources, activities to build employee buy-in, posters, and white papers on cognitive distraction and employer liability. Download the free kit here
View all 2017 Snow Safety week articles and content here. Thank you to our sponsors Caterpillar, BOSS Snowplow, and RAM Trucks.