Distracted driving refers to any activity that pulls a driver’s focus from the road. Such activities include talking or texting on the phone, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, and adjusting the stereo or navigation system. For organizations that depend upon employees to drive, distracted driving losses are a serious concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who drive for work are more likely to be in a hurry to reach their destinations, think about work tasks, experience fatigue or use their cellphones on the road.
The following are the three primary types of distractions drivers may encounter on the road:
- Visual distractions—Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road is a visual distraction. This includes reading text messages, glancing at directions or turning to look at accidents.
- Manual distractions—These distractions include anything that causes a driver to take their hands off the wheel, such as reaching for something in the vehicle, adjusting the radio, and eating or drinking.
- Cognitive distractions—A driver whose mind isn’t on the road is cognitively distracted. These distractions can include talking on the phone, chatting with a passenger or thinking about topics other than driving behind the wheel.
Distracted driving losses can be costly. Data from Advisen, a Zywave company, shows the median cost of a distracted driving loss ranges from $1.2 million to $2 million across top industries. To reduce distracted driving losses and keep employees safe, employers should consider the following prevention measures:
- Create a distracted driving policy. Ban the use of handheld devices while driving. Other distracting activities, such as eating, grooming and reading, should also be prohibited.
- Use technology. Consider installing phone-blocking technology in vehicles. It may also be valuable to implement technology that can detect and warn drivers when they are distracted.
- Communicate policies to employees. Ensure cellphone policies and other distracted driving policies are clearly written and accessible for all drivers. Any changes in the types of technology being used in vehicles should be clearly communicated to employees.
- Lead by example. Ask managers to refrain from texting or calling employees behind the wheel. Managers should clearly communicate that answering emails and texts is not as important as driving safely.
Distracted driving is an all-too-frequent occurrence that poses costly risks for employers. By understanding these risks and implementing proper prevention measures, employers can help mitigate distracted driving losses and keep their employees safe on the road.
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