For many commercial fleets, driver and public safety is a top priority, and organizations often take great care to prevent costly and potentially deadly accidents. While a number of factors can lead to a crash, distracted driving is a common, preventable cause of accidents. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that every year over 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving distracted drivers.
April has been designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council. This event is intended to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and encourage drivers to minimize potential distractions while operating vehicles or machinery. Types of distractions generally fall into three categories:
- Visual distractions constitute any distraction that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road. This could be anything from looking at a cell phone, radio or other device to focusing on passengers within the vehicle.
- Manual distractions constitute anything that causes the driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel. Examples might include text messaging, eating, or drinking while driving.
- Cognitive distractions are anything that takes a driver’s focus off the road, which includes talking on the phone or daydreaming while driving.
Some additional recommended steps that you can take to reinforce your company’s fleet safety programs include:
- Review and update your fleet safety program to ensure compliance with regulatory guidelines and programs. Consider including policies that will deter or prevent distractions while driving, including a cell-phone policy that prohibits cell phone use or text messaging while driving.
- Update your employment handbook to include indications of any disciplinary actions you will take in response to unsafe driving behavior.
- Take an opportunity to retrain your employees regarding defensive and distraction-free driving.
- Enhance your fleet safety program through the implementation of technology-based fleet safety programs such as telematics and/or drive cameras.
Additionally, rewarding positive behavior whenever possible encourages a positive safety culture. Taking an opportunity to acknowledge or reward employees with safe driving habits can help encourage other employees to emulate safe driving habits.
OSHA also provides some resources regarding motor vehicle safety.
Western Growers Insurance Services is a full-service insurance brokerage offering a suite of insurance and tailored risk management solutions to agricultural and related industry members. For more information or assistance, please contact Ken Cooper, Director Risk Strategy for Western Growers Insurance Services, at KCooper@wgis.com.
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