You’ve heard of it, and keep putting it off—but a distracted driving policy could save your business thousands. Not only can distracted driving result in high-cost consequences, but it’s also extremely dangerous. If your employees are distracted while they’re driving it can be a threat to everyone else on the road. On average, distracted driving cost employers $72,442 per non-fatal accident and about $4.3 billion total. As an employer, it’s important to create a culture of safety that focuses on preventing distracted driving by establishing a distracted driving policy.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is anything that can take the drivers attention off of the road. Examples could be texting, talking on the phone, reading paperwork, changing the radio, and even eating. Each day, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Distracted driving is becoming a great risk factor in today’s society and a concerning  risk factor for employers—risks that can’t afford to go ignored.

Types of Driver Distractions

  • Watching videos
  • Texting
  • Eating
  • Talking on the phone
  • Reading
  • Changing the radio
  • Applying makeup
  • Drowsy driving
  • Smoking
  • Rifling through your purse or wallet
  • Adjusting your GPS device
  • Road rage
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol

How Can You Identify a Distracted Driver?

With all the drivers on the road, how does someone identify what distracted driving looks like? A distracted driver appears unaware of his or her surroundings. The individual may have erratic driving behavior such as slowing down and speeding up with constant breaking. Other signs could be the driver going through a red light or dipping over the median. Distracted driving has these obvious cues that can lead to tragic accidents. However, even if the driver appears to be driving “normal,” if they look down to read a text for two seconds while driving 45 mph they have just driven blindly for 132 feet or almost half a football field. Creating a thorough distracted driving policy is the first step to prevention.

Educate Your Staff on the Distracted Driving Policy

So, how does a business help reduce or eliminate distracted driving? Establish a robust distracted driving policy. Require that all employees attend training programs regarding distracted driving causes and consequences, especially those who operate a vehicle on company time. Create a yearly communication campaign to consistently support your distracted driving policy.

What Should be Included in a Distracted Driving Policy

  1. Turn off cell phones or postpone use.
    The best practice is to instruct your employees to turn off their cell phone until the destination has been reached. If this is not possible, request that employees pull over to take the call or text. Employees should only pull over if absolutely necessary and if it is a safe area to do so—otherwise they should wait until they arrive at their final destination to respond. Additionally, employees should not make or take calls in bad weather conditions; this is just asking for trouble.
  2. Ask leaders and managers to try and avoid calling or texting coworkers when they’re driving.
    A distracted driving policy should advocate to allow incoming calls to go to voicemail when driving. If you’re employees have phone settings to allow calls to go straight to voicemail while driving, ask employees to adjust their phone settings appropriately. You can complete this automation process or turn on the ‘do not disturb’ setting on iPhones by viewing the instructional video here. It is the small safety details that can add up to make the biggest difference.
  3. Offer designated break times for drivers.
    Supervisors can champion safety policies by building in time for drivers to eat meals and return calls or texts. This is especially helpful for employees who regularly drive or are in the vehicle for long periods of time.
  4. Keep company vehicles running smoothly.
    In addition, it is equally important that company vehicles are properly maintained. It is critical that each vehicle maintain a regular schedule for oil changes, tire rotations and inspections to ensure the safety of your employees and others on the road. When a maintenance appointment is missed, it is a huge risk for the business and employees. Are all blinkers functioning? Have the windshield wipers been changed recently? How are fluid levels? Consider having an in-vehicle maintenance checklist posted for the driver to see and a place to store work-related equipment or personal items.

Promote Good Driving Practices From the Top Down

As an owner or manager, it is your responsibility to promote a safe culture within the business. Emulate the distracted driving policies you are advocating to uphold. Employees are always watching and will feel empowered to follow your lead. A successful distracted driving policy begins from the top down. Make sure to reinforce good behavior, too. Mention rewards and publicly recognize employees you’ve witnessed adhering to the new distracted driving policies. Give some examples of what the managers can do to embrace good behavior like highlighting an employee of the month, up front parking spot, etc.

Read more: “5 Steps to Building a Safety Culture in the Workplace”

Monitor for Compliance

Assign a key leader to regularly review and update the distracted driving policy as new circumstances or practices arise. Discuss when supervisors should be reviewing the policy for effectiveness and compliance. A distracted driving policy is a living document that should be adjusted to fit company and employee needs while upholding to OSHA safety standards. Employee compliance should also be monitored by immediate supervisors.

Distracted driving plays a major role in vehicular accidents each year, but it’s not the only factor that drives up costs. Reach out to a local Society agent today to discuss how Society can help support you on the road to success.