Distracted Driving

OneBeacon Technology Insurance
April 13, 2016

The following outlines the basic principles for safe driving along with risk mitigation tips for your workplace.

Drive Defensively

To ‘drive defensively’ has many meanings including:

  • The reasonable and responsible operation of a vehicle.
  • Anticipating danger and taking action to avoid accidents.
  • Doing everything possible to avoid a collision.

In order to do these things, a driver must cognitively recognize the risks in their field of vision and act to avoid putting the vehicle and its occupants in harm’s way. He or she should constantly absorb and process visual, sound and touch cues. If preoccupied with anything other than steering the vehicle, acceleration or braking, or if something is inhibiting the intake and processing of these vital cues, it is likely categorized as a distraction.

Distracted driving is not just a problem involving teenagers that are learning to drive. This is an issue that tempts every driver, every day, and every time the driver gets behind the wheel.

In 2014, an estimated 2,338,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes; of those injured, 431,000 were the result of distracted driving. (Traffic Safety Quick Facts 2014)

Unfortunately, this issue is not just a fad that will quietly disappear.

Distracted driving is a choice that we make in order to multitask as we try to accomplish more each day. Often, multitasking behind the wheel is done specifically so the driver will not have to pull the vehicle over and interrupt the original task of quickly traveling from point A to B.

Distracted driving can range from a cellphone call— with or without a hands‐free communication device—to drinking coffee to inputting or reading directions on a GPS. Each of these activities takes concentration off of the road to focus on the secondary activity.

Government fleet safety researchers and industry safety experts identify three types of distraction:

  • Visual—taking your eyes off the road ahead
  • Manual—taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive—taking your mind off the driving task

Any one of these distractions can adversely impair the ability to drive defensively and are indicators that can help predict future safe‐driving performance. Texting is getting a lot of attention because it involves all three types of distractions wrapped into one activity.

Federal, state and local entities have taken actions to make texting illegal within their jurisdiction. However, it ultimately depends on the choices the driver makes: Are the repercussions significant enough if they are caught texting? Do supervisors take action against violators? Has the driving culture established that distractions are a bad behavior?

When these answers are “yes,” then the text message, phone call or other distraction may wait until the ride is over—a start in the battle against distracted drivers. Driver education is also critical to motivating drivers to willingly change their habits and reduce exposure in this area. Can we eliminate it 100 percent? No. Can we reduce the amount of times it occurs every day? Yes.

Risk Management Suggestions

Setting expectations through clear communication and rules, establishing appropriate discipline and providing effective supervision is an important part of helping control this unique set of hazards.

Drivers need to hear, not only from their immediate manager but, from their upper management that:

  • Safe operation of their vehicle is an important part of their job.
  • Distracted driving should be avoided at all times.
  • Safe vehicle operation is preferred over quick arrival at the end destination.

Fleet safety best practices are evolving to include a list of “prohibited tasks while vehicle is moving” within the basic driver rules.

Your program tactics should include:

  • Distracted driving as a topic within all driver training.
  • Disciplinary procedures to address non‐ compliance with safe driving tactics that are distributed to all employees.
  • Ensuring that managers are not enabling this behavior by encouraging or participating in visual, manual and cognitive distractions.
  • Completing ride‐along evaluations to observe distractions and see how they are being managed.
  • Asking drivers for feedback on their biggest “in‐vehicle” distractions.

Industry Resources

http://www.nhtsa.gov/Research/

http://www.distraction.gov/

http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/

Contact Us

To learn more about how OneBeacon Technology Insurance can help with distracted driving mitigation please contact Dan Bauman at dbauman@onebeacontech.com or 262.966.2739.