Distracted driving is a growing epidemic, and a special concern in industries that have employees who spend their workday behind the wheel.
We spoke with Brian Peck, assistant vice president and loss control audit manager United Fire Group (UFG) Insurance about the growing public safety issue, and what business owners can do to take control of the situation in their own companies.
In commercial auto and service industries where communication on the road is viewed as a necessity, how can business owners balance safety with the desire to stay connected with employees?
Business owners must recognize that driving is the most dangerous activity that their employees are exposed to and needs their full attention. The cell phone culture is embedded in our everyday lives and change is difficult. Education is critical in changing behavior towards distracted driving.
One of the biggest challenges in changing behavior is the belief that hands-free cell phone use does not cause cognitive distraction. Studies have shown that drivers using cell phones, whether hands-free or hand-held, fail to see up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment.
For companies just beginning to explore creating and enforcing a distracted driving policy, what do you see as requirements in such a policy?
A policy can certainly be tailored to a specific industry or company, but some of the basic principles of a distracted driving policy should include:
1. Keep cell phones and hands-free devices off while the vehicle is moving. Allow voicemail to handle your calls and return them when safe.
2. If you need to place a call or a text, pull off the road to a safe location and stop the vehicle before using your phone.
3. Inform regular callers of the best time to reach a driving employee based upon his/her driving schedule. Modify voicemail greetings to indicate that the employee is unavailable to answer calls or return messages while driving.
4. Install a cell phone motion app that disables a phone when it detects motion.
We strongly encourage businesses to create a written policy that employees must review and sign.
Most importantly, employees must be aware of the ramifications of not following the policy. Business owners also need to follow through on their end and not expect employees to be reachable when they’re on the road. Management should also lead by example and also not use cell phones when driving.
UFG Insurance can help business owners in the fight against distracted driving. Visit www.ufgworthit.com for videos, stories, distracted driving policy samples and more.
©UFG 2017. All rights reserved.
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