Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW) is an annual safety campaign organized by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), observed during the first week of October. Union Leasing is committed to promoting safe driving including preventing distracted driving. Distracted driving is an important issue and sometimes it takes a tragic, real world example to make us all understand the true danger involved, and to make a change.
Distracted Driving Dangers are Real: Nancy’s Story
At the AFLA 2015 Annual Conference last month I met a woman named Nancy Fitzgerald. Quite possibly the most meaningful takeaway from the conference was meeting Nancy and hearing her story. Nancy lost her husband, Patrick, to an accident caused by a distracted driver. Patrick was hit while riding his bicycle in August of 2014. When I brought back Nancy’s message and this moving video to Union Leasing we agreed to share Nancy’s message, and the message of so many others, of the dangers of distracted driving. The fact is preventing distracted driving saves lives.
What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is not limited to the distractions caused by cell phones. Distracted driving can include any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. This includes eating, reading, adjusting a GPS, talking to passengers, and mobile phone use. Mobile phone use is also not limited to handheld devices either. Both handheld and hands-free devices are dangerous distractions to drivers. Operating a phone or other device increases your risk of crashing by 300%. Plus, there are dangers all around when operating a vehicle. This includes other cars on the road, construction, cyclists, pedestrians, changes in weather, traffic, and more.
According to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes off the road for approximately 4.6 seconds. If a vehicle is traveling at 55 mph that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. (Tweet this stat!)
Laws and Liability around Distracted Driving
Understanding the laws around distracted driving as well as your company's liability is the next step in ensuring you have a safe fleet on the road. Businesses whose employees are distracted drivers face massive liability. To learn more about the laws and liability around distracted driving, download our free ebook with 9 Real World Cases Against Distracted Driving.
According to the NHTSA on-the-job crashes cost employers over $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury, and $3.6 million per fatality. (Tweet this stat!)
Have a Policy in Place
You could invest in technology that blocks cell phone use or review call logs for company-issued phones to manage distracted driving risks among your employees. However, it’s better to prevent distracted driving before it happens by enforcing a culture of safety. This starts with having employees sign and understand a distracted driving policy that holds them accountable.
Creating an effective distracted driving policy for your fleet is more than simply saying employees cannot use cell phones while driving. Your policy must be clear, tailored to state laws, be written down and properly communicated to employees, and assign a specific punishment for violation.
Your policy is nothing more than a piece of paper if no one is following it. So how can you get employees to buy into this new policy?
- Build a culture of safety - be proactive with a policy, not reactive with punishment
- Educate your employees so they understand the purpose of the policy
- Remind employees that they are liable as well as the company
- Use real stories: talk about the real world consequences of distracted driving
- Keep your drivers involved - take feedback about the policy, its successes, and shortcomings.
As part of the fleet industry you have the opportunity to change the way people drive. Sharing powerful statistics and stories like Nancy’s with anyone who drives can make the roads safer for everyone.
Need help with risk management for your fleet? Union Leasing has partnered with various leading insurance and risk management companies to offer a powerful selection of services that can be tailored to meet your specific needs and budget. Contact us to learn more.