Written By Eric Waidelich, Risk Management Professional, Rizikon Inc.
As with anything in life there are always two sides of any situation. For this first part of this two-part series, we are going to focus on texting and driving as if you are the person behind the wheel. The second part of the series will focus on you, as the by-stander who might be the recipient of someone else texting and driving. Keep in mind that all of the information we are about to cover is not just for your safety, but is also a requirement of OSHA.
Texting while driving puts millions of Americans who drive on the job at risk every day. That risk continues to grow as texting becomes more widespread. As a business owner or manager, it’s your legal responsibility under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to safeguard drivers at work.
This holds true whether they drive full-time or only occasionally to carry out their work, and whether they drive a company vehicle or their own. When your workers are behind the wheel doing your company’s work, their safety is your business.
That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which enforces worker safety laws, has joined with the Transportation Department, other Labor Department agencies and key associations and organizations to enlist the help and cooperation of businesses – in a nationwide outreach, education, and enforcement effort to stop the dangerous practice of texting while driving.
Your State legislature and governor make the laws regarding distracted driving. Many States now have laws against texting, talking on a cell phone, and other distractions while driving. You can visit the Governors Highway Safety Association to learn about the laws in your State. Visit https://www.ghsa.org/index.php/state-laws/issues/distracted%20driving
- More workers are killed every year in Motor Vehicle Crashes than any other cause.
Distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017 alone, (newest data available).
- Reaction time is delayed for a driver talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk.
- More texting leads to more crashes. With each additional 1 million text messages, fatalities from distracted driving rose more than 75%.
- People under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal crashes due to distractions than any other age group.
- Studies show that drivers who send or receive text messages focus their attention away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded!
Employers & Supervisors Should
- Prohibit texting while driving. OSHA encourages employers to declare their vehicles “text-free zones” and to emphasize that commitment to their workers, customers, and communities.
- Establish work processes that do not make it necessary for workers to text while driving in order to carry out their duties.
- Set up clear procedures for the safe use of texting and other technologies for communicating with managers, customers, and others.
- Incorporate safe communications practices into worker orientation, training and meetings.
- Eliminate financial and other incentive systems that encourage workers to text while driving.
New School Year
New drivers are hitting the roads this month, in every community across the United States. Thousands of them. Remember, people under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal crashes due to distractions than any other age group.Studies have determined that teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience. They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car.
What Can You Do?
Familiarize yourself with the restrictions placed on your teen’s license can better assist you in enforcing those laws. You have the opportunity to establish some important ground rules for your teen driver. Restrict night driving and passengers, prohibit driving while using the phone, and require seat belt use at all times.
Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors. Novice teen drivers most often learn from watching their parents.
Don’t rely solely on a driver’s education class to teach your teen to drive. Set aside time to take your teen on practice driving sessions.
Set consequences for distracted driving. If your teen breaks a distraction rule you’ve set, consider suspending your teen’s driving privileges, or consider limiting a teen’s access to their cell phone — a punishment that in today’s world could be seen by teens as a serious consequence.
Information provided by Eric Waidelich of Rizikon Inc. Office: (877) 591-0300; Mobile: (313) 530-8251; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source material and statistics are from OSHA, NHTSA, and ConeZoneBC.