What You Need to Know About Distracted Driving

Does your small business rely on you or your drivers to make deliveries to customers or sales or service personnel visiting client premises?  If so, there’s been increased discussion about the dangers of distracted driving recently in the news.

There’s good reason for the increased attention placed on distracted driving: in 2009 alone, over 5,000 people lost their lives as a result of driving while distracted, reports NHTSA. Text messaging increases the risk of a crash by 23 percent, according to Virginia Tech Transportation InstituteMonash University reports that drivers are four times more likely to injure themselves in a serious crash when using a hand-held electronic device. Sadly, there are plenty more statistics where these come from.

Unfortunately, today’s driving habits lend themselves to these statistics: cell phones, GPS navigation units, CDs, MP3 players, touch screen controls, and even electronic gadgets built into a vehicle.

The government is stepping in to curtail distracted driving. In February 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is a division of the Department of Transportation, announced proposed guidelines for automobile manufacturers to work on limiting distractions from built-in vehicle electronic devices.

But until these guidelines are actually put into practice, there’s some things business managers can do to help reduce distractions while driving.

1) Thwart the temptation. While it’s probably not practical to leave your electronic devices at home — especially if they’re needed for work — at least turn them off while driving. That way, you won’t know you’re receiving a phone call or text message — and won’t be tempted to answer or text back while at the wheel.

2) Invest in GPS tracking. If your business involves a fleet of delivery drivers, consider investing in a GPS tracker. Drivers who know they are being monitored and tracked will more likely practice safe driving habits.

3) Create a distracted driver policy. Not only does a safe distracted driver policy help keep your employees safe, but it makes good business sense. The U.S. Department of Transportation has a sample distracted driver policy that you can download and provide to your employees.

There’s no doubt that new communications and electronic technology are helping small businesses work faster, smarter, and more efficiently. But being more productive in business shouldn’t justify the increased risk of injury or death caused by distracted driving. Make reducing distracted driving a priority in your workplace, and make sure you have commercial auto insurance in the event that an unfortunate vehicle accident occurs.