Ways to Avoid the Top Distracted Driving Offenders

By Matt Longman | 09/01/2017

Distracted driving continues to increase for all drivers as we place greater reliance on our phones for all our information. From maps to news to messages to photos, Americans spend more time on their phones and tablets performing numerous activities, accounting for more than 5 hours each day. When you combine these activities with operating a motor vehicle, it instantly becomes a contest for attention.

For employers, all this multi-tasking creates an added level of risk for employees who operate a vehicle as part of their job. Here are some of the top distracted driving offenders, and some ways to combat them (and still accomplish all those other tasks too):

Mobile phones (talking and texting)

We all have them, and drivers are often required to carry them to stay connected to their employer. But studies show using a mobile phone while driving can increase the risk of a collision up to four times, and texting is even worse.

Many states have banned cell phone use while driving, but there is no national restriction, and our reliance on cell phones continues. Employers can help reinforce policies on appropriate cell use at truck stops or when a vehicle is parked. Leadership should stress that emails and text messages aren’t worth the risk, and emphasize the value of employees’ lives over “staying connected.” 

Adjusting vehicle settings

As vehicles have become more sophisticated, there are more buttons and settings to configure, which takes attention away from the road. Some of the newest vehicles include “infotainment units” that combine internet access, satellite radio, news updates, and more. All of this draws attention from the driver.

Drivers should set their preferred preferences for any music, information updates, climate control, and seat settings prior to driving, and should only change them when fully parked.

Passengers

Surprisingly, other people in the vehicle are a common cause for drivers to forget to pay attention to the road in front of them. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, passengers rank among the most frequent causes of distraction. If employees travel together, drivers should ask for their cooperation so they can focus on driving safely, and always secure any pets before driving.

Eating, drinking and smoking

Aside from the obvious dangers of drunk driving, even sipping on a non-alcoholic drink takes your focus off the road. A Virginia Tech driver study found that eating a cheeseburger can be more distracting than talking on a mobile phone. A morning pit stop at Starbucks or a local coffee shop can avoid this careless, unnecessary risk.

Daydreaming

This is the largest reason for distracted driving accidents. According to AAA, daydreamers accounted for a whopping 62 percent of distracted drivers involved in road fatalities. While detaching from reality can prove useful when recharging creative energies or simply taking a respite from a hectic day, doing so while driving can be fatal.

Responsible driving means maintaining focus. Not only is it a courtesy to fellow drivers, but it also helps you spot and avoid potentially dangerous situations on the road.

In our fast-paced, 24/7, the boss-wants-it-yesterday world, we are always looking for more time to do more. But it shouldn’t come at the cost of employees’ lives and safety. Multi-tasking is something to avoid when behind the wheel. And when driving, keep the attention focused on the road.

If a driver must address a concern, it’s best to pull off the road and stop the vehicle in a safe place. Together, employers and employees can eliminate driver distractions and make the roads safer for everyone.