Employers must deal with drivers who text, talk on cell phones
Education combined with consequences are the key to reducing distracted driving, according to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. The Virginia-based organization is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct the annual Drive Safely Work Week Oct. 4-8 to reduce the risks posed by distracted driving.
While distracted driving is not new, NETS points out that the growing use of smart phones and other handheld mobile devices has put more pressure on employees to stay connected, even while driving.
Educate, encourage proper driving focus. Giving employees the facts about distracted driving is the first step in the process. The statistics about distracted driving may seem staggering:
- Nearly 6,000 people were killed and 500,000 others were injured as a result of accidents involving distracted drivers in 2008.
- Distracted driving is a factor in more than 20 percent of crashes, representing 300,000 each year.
- Drivers on cell phones look but fail to see up to half of the information in the driving environment, according to a recent study.
The realities of these facts can be borne out to employees by a local law enforcement officer invited to discuss his daily encounters as a result of distracted driving. NETS suggests a lunch-and-learn type event in the workplace.
The organization's weeklong program suggests daily activities surrounding a theme for each day. They include:
Monday: Employees should know their state's law and the laws of any state in which they may travel for business.
Tuesday: While multitasking is desirable in the office, it's anything but when behind the wheel. Ask employees to "look in the rearview mirror" and assess their own potential for distracted driving. NETS has an interactive self-assessment to help rate each employee's risk of distracted driving.
Wednesday: Technology can help reduce the dangers of distracted driving through new software that uses GPS to detect when a phone is in motion and blocks calls and texts. Designate a team of respected employees to test these technologies and present their findings to the organization.
Additionally, encourage employees to change their voicemail greeting to indicate they are driving.
Thursday: Encourage the use of mass transit systems and ride sharing where possible.
Friday: Have employees sign a pledge card committing them to safer driving and display them in high-visibility areas. Offer participating employees the opportunity to dress casually on Friday or an additional day if casual Friday is already part of the culture.
NETS also advises upper management to consider sending daily messages during Drive Safely Work Week via e-mail, voice mail, or through social media.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 7, 2010
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