Employers — does your business require employees to drive for work? If so, what are you doing to combat the dangers of distracted driving? In almost every state, the percentage of distracted driving related accidents has increased in recent years, making distracted driving a risk that business owners can not afford to ignore. This is especially true if your employees feel that using their phone while behind the wheel is a part of the job. From checking voicemails and email to making calls from the car, distracted driving is no longer limited to handheld devices — studies show that hands-free distractions also pose a safety risk. And at the end of the day, employers are responsible for ensuring their drivers adhere to federal and state regulations — including those about cell phone use while driving.
So, what can employers do to help protect their employees and their business from the dangers of distracted driving? If you don’t already have one, you should create and implement a strong, company-wide distracted driving policy. By implementing one of these plans, you can increase safety for your employees and surrounding community while also reducing your liability risk.
Here are a few things to consider as you develop a distracted driving policy.
Consult multiple members of your team
Ensure your distracted driving policy is comprehensive and effective by making this an open conversation with your employees. Get feedback from members of every department within your company to first identify if employees are engaging in distracted driving behaviors, and then work and to understand why this is happening. By involving a wide range of employees in different roles and positions, you’ll be able to fully understand if and why employees are engaging in this behavior and will be better able to address these issues with your policy.
Make it company-wide
Your distracted driving policy should apply to every employee in any position within your company. Not only should your plan apply to those using a company vehicle, it should also apply to employees using their own vehicle on company time. In a study performed by the National Safety Council, 2,000 employees were polled regarding their wireless device use, and of the 469 companies that prohibited handheld and hands-free devices, 99% of polled employees said they did not experience a decrease in productivity.
Distracted driving should not be limited to using electronic devices. Even though that is what commonly comes to mind when we think of distracted driving accidents, there are three main types of distractions that should be considered and addressed in your distracted driving policy:
Cognitive: when the driver’s mind isn’t focused on the task of driving or the road ahead. This can occur when drivers are simply lost in thought or when they are engaged in a conversation, either over the phone or with a passenger in the car.
Visual: when drivers are looking at anything other than the road ahead and their surroundings. While this can be anything from reaching for something in the back seat to looking at a GPS system, a common distraction for employees on the road comes from checking emails or text messages while driving.
Manual: when the driver takes both hands off the wheel for any reason. Here again, this can occur when employees are multitasking at the wheel doing things like eating, drinking, or adjusting the radio while they drive.
Educate employees and follow-up
Creating a distracted driving policy is a great start, but your company should provide continued education in addition to implementing the policy. Educating employees about the dangers of distracted driving can help them develop safe driving habits. Make sure to keep the conversation open with your employees, allowing for questions and feedback on a regular basis. Also, consider posting the policy throughout the office (in communal spaces, hallways, and cafeterias) with appropriate contact information for any follow-ups. Developing the policy is the first step, but following up is crucial to ensuring employees continue to develop safer habits.
If you are interested in learning more about developing a distracted driving policy and how liability insurance coverage can protect your business, consult an experienced member of our Commercial Lines team by calling (800) 333-7234. We also invite you to learn more about the services we provide at www.easterninsurance.com.