​​​​Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player

But, because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

Distracted driving is becoming increasingly common and dangerous, causing traffic crashes and fatalities. In 2014, there were 100,825 traffic crashes in Texas that involved distracted driving (distraction, driver inattention or cell phone use). That is an increase of 6% from 2013. These crashes in 2014 resulted in 3,214 serious injuries and 468 deaths. In fact, nearly one in five crashes in Texas involves driver distraction.

Cell Phones are the No. 1 Driver Distraction

Talking on a cell phone while driving makes you almost four times more likely to crash, and texting while driving increases your chances of a crash by up to 8 to 23 times.

In addition to taking their eyes and hands off the wheel, distracted drivers take their mind off the primary task of driving. Drivers talking on cell phones miss half of the information in their driving environment.

Drivers using cell phones are less likely to see:

  • High and low relevant objects
  • Visual cues
  • Exits, red lights and stop signs

Employer Costs

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that employers in Texas spend $3.52 billion every year as a result of on- and off-the-job traffic injuries, as shown in Table 8. In recent years, numerous plaintiffs have filed and won multimillion-dollar actions against employers for injuries arising from negligent driving of an employee who was distracted by the use of a cell phone.

What Employers Can Do

Driver distractions cost the U.S. economy $3.58 billion each month, according to a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study. In an effort to protect employees and their finances, many employers are implementing corporate cell phone bans, which protect employees both on and off the job. Having a distracted driving policy in place doesn't just make good safety sense, it makes good business $ense.
 

A corporate cell phone ban might ask employees to:

  • Turn off wireless phones or other devices before starting the car
  • Inform clients, associates and business partners that calls will be returned when no longer driving
  • Pull over to a safe location and put the vehicle in park if a call must be made

Your staff will have many questions about a cell phone ban and the risks of distracted driving, so prepare yourself to answer them.
 
  • Introduce your cell phone policy and emphasize how it will ensure a safe workplace. Distribute the policy and give employees time to read and react to it
  • You should promote distraction-free driving all year, while building on safety events like April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month
  • Use Posters, Web Banners and Fact Sheets from NSC

 


 

 

A project of the National Safety Council in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation.

 

 
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