In observance of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Travelers has provided information to help businesses with employees who drive as part of their job safeguard against distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, the average work-related motor vehicle injury claim costs $69,206, which is twice as much as other work-related injuries.
“Helping employees avoid distraction while driving starts with management and creating a culture committed to safety,” said Chris Hayes, second vice president, Travelers Risk Control. “Employees who drive for work often feel pressure to respond to emails and phone calls, especially from their manager. It’s important for company leaders to set the expectation that it’s better to respond later than while driving.”
More than two in three drivers admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving, according to the AAA Foundation’s 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index. Additionally, one in four drivers admits to typing or sending a text message or email while driving. Despite these behaviors, a recent survey of Travelers’ customers found that only 27 percent reported having a formal policy on distracted driving that was strictly enforced.
Travelers recommends a four-step program to help businesses better protect their employees from distracted driving:
Create – Develop a formal, written policy stating your organization’s position on mobile device use and other distractions while driving. This policy should apply to everyone in your organization who drives a vehicle, regardless of their position.
Communicate – To be effective, safety policies should be communicated repeatedly. Have every employee who drives acknowledge in writing that they have read, understand and will follow it. Then, send regular messaging to employees via emails, newsletters and bulletin board postings to reinforce the policy.
Follow – Managers and office staff should lead by example. Let employees know that while they are on the road, no phone call or email is more important than their safety. To further prove that point, managers and other staff should defer conversations with employees until they are safely parked.
Promote – Managers should define the safe driving practices and expected behaviors of those that drive for any business purpose. They should also take the appropriate steps to understand who is following these policies, and actively promote the desired behavior.
Sending or receiving a text, one of the most serious forms of visual distraction, takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, according to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. At 55 mph this is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with eyes closed.