Both non-commercial and commercial fleet drivers face distractions while driving. The phone rings, a text comes through, and you have to make the decision – look to see who it is, or wait a few minutes until you arrive at your destination. We all know what the right decision is. But what is reality?
Most people have looked at some point and many have gotten away with it – walking away unscathed. However, far too many stories have surfaced since the explosion of mobile phones, where tragedy strikes.
In 2010, more than 3,000 people died in distracted driving crashes – many of which could have been prevented – and another 18% of injury related crashes were as a result of distracted driving. Had the driver just waited a few minutes until it was safe to answer the phone or read the text message, chances are everyone would have arrived safely at their destination.
When was the last time you discussed safe driving practices with your fleet vehicle drivers? Do you just presume they obey state laws or company policies?
Hopefully, your fleet vehicle drivers keep their eyes on the road, and their mobile devices wait for interaction once they are at the customer location or depot. But if you don’t already have clear safety policies in place, or you haven’t revisited them recently, it’s time to make this a priority for your transportation management operations team.
Recently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a new article in their series called the Faces of Distracted Driving. This article highlighted a 35-year-old, father of two who was killed instantly when a distracted driver hit his motorcycle. As a fleet vehicle operator safety becomes an even higher stake. With a large tractor trailer on the road combined with the frequency of travel the likelihood of an incidence significantly increases.
These stories are everywhere, and avoidable accidents happen more and more because of distraction. We all have individual responsibilities to remain focused while driving, but it is all too easy to find yourself distracted. As a fleet vehicle operator, you realize that your employees not only have their own lives on the line, but everyone who is on the road with them. Your fleet vehicle drivers hold your companies safety reputation in the palm of their hand.
Whether you’re on the phone, eating a sandwich, or changing the radio station, anything that takes your eyes and concentration off the road is considered distracted driving. Making safety discussions a part of your daily business can help remind and reinforce safe driving practices. Safety should be part of ongoing training, and information should be broadcast throughout your vehicle routing business– this can include posters, pamphlets, as well as messages shared from senior management.
Engage your vehicle drivers and employees; have them personally pledge to drive distraction free. Be explicit in offering direction – for example, when the driver needs to use their device, ensure they are waiting until they are at a complete stop at their destination.
Distraction.gov provides employers with pledge forms and other resources to utilize with your employees. Safety is an issue that should remain top of mind, and should be part of training and company culture. There is no such thing as too much information when it comes to safe driving practices.