The number of people injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012 totaled 421,000 and that represented a 9 percent increase over the previous year. The increase is a clear indication that even given the sobering statistics, people continue to drive distracted.
Given the risks…and the costs associated with accidents (personnel injury, lost man-hours, vehicle damage, insurance costs, and potential law suits) it’s surprising that a majority of employers do not have formal policies regarding distracted driving. (A survey of Travelers’ Insurance customers revealed only 27 percent have a formal policy that is strictly enforced.)
Here are four steps to help you establish and support an effective distracted driving policy for your company: (Our thanks to Travelers for the Steps!)
- Create – Create a formal, written policy stating your organization’s position on mobile device use and other distractions while driving. It should apply to everyone in your organization who drives a vehicle on company business, whether it is a delivery truck, a sales vehicle, or a supervisor visiting job sites or office employee using a personal vehicle to run errands. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a link to an OSHA-generated sample policy: https://www.osha.gov/distracted-driving/modelpolicies.html
- Communicate –As you can see on the OSHA sample policy, the best way to communicate your policy is to ask every employee who drives on company business to sign the policy, indicating that he or she has read, understands and will follow the policy. But don’t stop there. Use emails, newsletters, bulletin board postings, defensive driving training and signage in vehicles to communicate your policy in various ways throughout the year.
- 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.
As you can also see on the OSHA sample policy, it’s important to establish consequences for failing to follow the policy and to implement the policy on a consistent and universal basis.