A Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving has been issued by the Transportation secretary to address what he calls the "growing and dangerous practice of using handheld cell phones behind the wheel." The plan includes specific steps stakeholders, including employers, can take.
While texting is identified as the most problematic, other types of distracted driving include eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, watching a video, and adjusting a radio or CD player.
Officials note that distracted driving crashes killed more than 5,400 people and injured nearly 500,000 in 2009. They say drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
Text messaging "creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted," according to the blueprint. With each 1 million text messages, "fatalities from distracted driving rose more than 75 percent."
Many workers' jobs require them to spend part or all of their workday driving. At the same time, these same workers may feel pressured to text while driving to carry out their duties.
"Establish work procedures and rules that do not make it necessary for workers to text while driving," the DOT suggests. Employers should "eliminate financial and other incentive systems that encourage workers to text while driving."
Among the other recommendations for employers are:
- Set up clear procedures, times, and places for drivers' safe use of texting and other technologies for communicating with managers, customers, and others.
- Prohibit texting while driving. Employers can declare their vehicles "text-free zones."
- Incorporate safe communications practices into worker orientation and training.
- Enact a company policy on distracted driving. The DOT website has a sample policy available for downloading.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 23, 2012
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