Distracted Driving – Risks to Employers
5-09-18 | Business | Jeff Rausch
People every day are adversely affected by distracted driving. Distracted driving is a “dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways” (USDOT). There are over 3,000 deaths annually in crashes involving driver distraction according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Analysis estimates that the annual costs of crashes associated with distracted driving is $47 billion.
Employers continue to overlook this exposure and choose not to deal with it proactively. Over the last year, what has your company or what have you done as a fleet safety director or manager to get the message out?
Employers may be held legally liable for their employees’ actions while during their employment (all driving employees). Employers can be held liable for an employee who is involved in a vehicle collision while conducting business on a cell phone.
The question becomes - do you have policies and procedures in place that address distractions and especially the use of electronic devices including cell phones while an employee is operating a vehicle? Are the polices and training adequate?
Restrictions on hand-held mobile telephone and electronic devices by drivers continue to be implemented on both federal and state levels.
What should employers do:
- Write and adopt a strict policy backed and followed by upper management that not only meets your business needs, but also goes above and beyond the rules of the road. The goal is the health and safety of your employees and others while operating a vehicle and decrease endangerments of other motorists and pedestrians.
- Train all employees and retrain annually.
- Test and monitor the policy to determine if it is working. Disciplinary action should be considered for all employees who fail to adhere to the policy.
- The National Safety Council has published a free downloadable Cell Phone Policy Kit. Tools to help you better educate your employees are also available at www.trafficsafety.org/dsww-materials and www.distraction.gov.
- There are also apps available for phones that can disable texting while driving. Several of the apps are free.
- Distraction.gov is the official U.S. government website for distracted driving.
- Distracted Driving Safety Alliance (DDSA) Broad-based coalition working to inform legislators, regulators, the media, policy influencers, and the public about the dangers of distracted driving and how key industry leaders are working to solve the problem through innovation, education, and outreach.