Drivers and Cell Phones – a Dangerous Combination

distracted driverTransportation-related accidents are consistently the leading causes of on-the-job fatalities. Many of these incidents could be prevented if drivers kept their focus on the task at hand.

Common driver distractions

Talking

If you have field employees, chances are they communicate primarily by cell phone. Does your drivers’ safety policy address cell phone use? If it doesn’t, it should.

If one of your employees is injured, it doesn’t matter whether they’re driving a company or personal vehicle. As long as the employee is on company business, and the employer required or understood that the employee was talking on the cell phone while on business, the company could be held liable.

Using hands-free devices

Hands-free devices are not necessarily safe alternatives to cell phones. Research has shown that hands-free devices distract drivers. Instruct employees to turn off their cell phones and put them away where they won’t be tempted to answer.

Text messaging

Text messaging requires us to take our eyes off the road. At 40 mph, your car travels approximately the length of a football field in five seconds. Those few seconds could cost an employee or another driver their life.

What can employers do?

  • Implement a drivers’ safety policy that includes basic safe driving rules, cell phone policies, seat belt requirements, and other safe practices to eliminate or minimize drivers’ distractions.
  • Before you allow employees to drive for the company, check their driving records to ensure they meet your standards. Recheck driving records at least once a year.
  • Remind employees not to answer cell phones while driving. If they must make a call or send a text, instruct them to pull off the road to a safe location.

What can employees do?

  •  A little planning can help you avoid distractions, such as talking on the cell phone, text messaging, changing the radio station and eating while driving.
  • Only use your cell phone when you are safely stopped. If you must take a call, use a hands-free device, and pull off the road to a safe location to finish the call.
  • Obey driving laws, and practice safe driving habits.

Free resources

Anyone can visit safehandtexas.org for free driving safety materials. Texas Mutual policyholders can access more free materials in the safety resource center at texasmutual.com. The site includes an online video titled “Lasting Consequences of Distracted Driving.”

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