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Staying Focused on the Road in the Worst Conditions

February 25, 2019 • Missouri Employers Mutual

Right now is a great time to address distracted driving. Winter is on the way and driving naturally becomes more dangerous. Statistics show that distracted driving is a contributing factor in up to 30 percent of traffic crashes in the United States. Distraction, combined with winter weather challenges, could easily result in vehicle crashes resulting in employee injuries and fatalities.

Distractions + winter weather = high risk

Think about it, when you combine everyday driving distractions with the following factors even the best drivers are in a dangerous position.

  • Wet or slick roads.
  • Limited visibility.
  • Increased stress performing simple tasks due to frigid temperatures and precipitation.

Distractions can be any activity that takes a driver’s mind off of the driving task, hands off of the steering wheel and eyes off of the road. Most people blame distracted driving incidents on cell phones, but there are many other ways to become distracted including:

  • Intense conversation;
  • Stress at home or work;
  • Flipping through paperwork;
  • Observing roadside activities; and
  • Adjusting vehicle controls.

Defining work-related driving

Did you know that work-related driving includes employees using a personal vehicle for work-related reasons? This type of driving incident may very well affect your workers compensation costs. Employees often state that they obey company distracted driving policies, but the office frequently calls them while they are driving and if they don’t pick up the phone, they are punished. This is called company sponsored distracted driving and is a safety culture problem. Employees won’t take the safety rules seriously if they are not followed by everyone. It’s also important to remember that mobile devices leave a data trail. It’s very easy for an attorney to subpoena cell phone records and use them against you in civil or criminal court. This data can prove whether or not the phone was in use at the time of an incident.

Be a proactive, not reactive employer

Decrease your company’s driving risks by doing the following:

  • Develop a distracted driving policy that addresses cell phone conversations and texting.
  • Make sure office workers are not making outbound calls to employees that are driving.
  • Have a safety meeting to discuss distracted driving with your staff.
  • Enforce the rules. A safety rule that isn’t enforced is worthless.

It’s a great time to review your entire fleet safety program, which should include the following:

  • Written seat belt policy signed by each employee that drives or rides in any vehicle for company-related business;
  • Distracted driving policy;
  • Company drug-free workplace program that includes new-hire, post-incident and random screens;
  • Written safe driving rules.

Take a stand and address distractions within your organization by covering the safety information with employees and making sure the rules are enforced.
Additional resources:

WorkSAFE distracted driving video
WorkSAFE defensive driving tutorial
Traffic safety.org

Date
February 25, 2019
Author
Missouri Employers Mutual
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