April: National Distracted Driving Month

April is approaching which means it is time for showers and flowers. But it also means it is nearing National Distracted Driving Month.

The National Safety Council (NSC) has referred to April as National Distracted Driving Month since it was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2010 with a 410-2 vote. The distracted driving issue was introduced partly due to a 9-year-old girl named Erica Forney, who was struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2008 in Colorado.

The month of April is set aside for learning about the dangers of distracted driving, explaining the dangers of using your cell phone while driving (even hands-free), and teaching your employees how to avoid distracted driving.

According to the NSC, approximately 1.6 million crashes every year are from using a cell phone (whether talking or texting) while driving; and it is the number one cause of distracted driving. The agency not only urges people to stop cell phone usage while driving, but wants people to recognize and realize the dangers of all forms of being distracted while behind the wheel.

How to Observe National Distracted Driving Month

As a small business, there are several ways to observe National Distracted Driving Month. The first is to develop a company policy with rules about driving practices, including resources on being safer while driving and avoiding distractions.

Resources can also be found from the NSC website, including how to reduce distraction while driving, the percentage of fatal crashes caused by cell phone use, and various campaign materials. You can also get a free Cell Phone Policy Kit that explains in detail the dangers of cell phone usage while driving.

Make the Pledge to Drive Cell Free

One of the most important resources provided by the NSC website is to make the pledge to drive cell free. You and your employees should also take the pledge to drive cell free to encourage driving without cell phone use. National Distracted Driving Month is the perfect opportunity to not only sign the pledge yourself, but ask all your drivers and other employees to do the same. It is a simple online form you complete to promise not to drive while using your cell phone.

This includes using a cell phone with a hands-free device, because, even with these devices, you are still four times more likely to crash. The National Safety Council has also found that distracted driving is the number one cause of workplace deaths, with 25 percent of all distracted driving crashes being due to cell phone usage.

Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving

Helping your employees, especially fleet drivers, avoid distracted driving saves their own life, others on the road, and even reduces your liability as an employer. In addition to creating and implementing a company-wide policy about avoiding cell phone use while driving, make it a point to convey that employees shouldn’t be eating or drinking behind the wheel. They should always stop and pull over their vehicle if they need to access something.

Another helpful way to avoid distracted driving is to become more informed about the driving habits of your employees by utilizing a GPS tracking device. Install it in your fleet of vehicles and review the data. The valuable information obtained by using a GPS tracking device can provide you with key insight into your drivers’ behaviors, including speed and driving outside of approved areas.

After informing your employees of the dangers of distracted driving and emphasizing the importance of National Distracted driving Month this April, be sure you have adequate business insurance coverage. This includes business auto insurance in the event of a vehicle accident due to distracted driving.