For Drivers

The costs and consequences of distracted driving

In BC, driving distractions kill an average of 79 people a year and have now eclipsed impaired driving as a leading causal factor in motor-vehicle crashes. You may have experienced first-hand the dangers of distractions -- after you looked away for just a moment to find a song on your phone or check a text -- only to look up to find a pedestrian or car dangerously close.

The risk of injuring yourself, a co-worker or any other human through your inattention should be incentive enough to leave the phone alone. For drivers that might choose to ignore those duties and operate an electronic device while driving, police are ready to enforce laws with consequences that include a base fine of $368 plus four (4) penalty points that come with an additional $175 penalty, and that can lead to driving prohibition.

Watch how a driving instructor in Belgium makes the case against driving and texting to his students.

Identifying driving distractions

Texting and cell phone conversations are the worst offenders, but there are plenty of other distractions. This video identifies many of them, but you can likely think of other things that reduce your attention to driving.

All drivers need to manage the following distractions:

Talking on a smartphone
Eating and drinking
Talking to passengers
Grooming / personal hygiene
Reading, including using maps
Using a navigation system
Watching a video
Adjusting the radio or searching for music on your smartphone

Depending on the work and workplace, some drivers also have to manage:

Calls from the dispatcher – two-way radio or cell phone
Mobile data terminals
On-board recorders
Laptops or tablets
Dash warning lights
Loose items in the cab
Stress – job demands, deadlines or a stressful conversation
Searching for house addresses or street names
Complex tertiary tasks
Putting on sunglasses
Checking gauges

Managing driving distractions

Here are six things you can do to manage the distractions you may experience when driving for work.

  1. Be knowledgeable.

    Learn more about the realities, consequences and conditions of distracted driving. Visit our FAQs and Statistics page. Check out these handy tips for practical things you can do to manage specific distractions.

    These tips help commercial drivers manage the additional distractions they often face.

  2. Test your distraction knowledge.

    Take a few minutes to try the 15-question Test Your Distraction Knowledge quiz. Confirm your understanding is current. If it’s not, the quiz provides interesting facts you can use.

    The Canadian Automobile Association offers a distraction simulator that lets you select a distraction scenario, and understand how far you travelled and what you missed while you were distracted.

  3. Challenge yourself - make the pledge.

    Smart phones are not nearly as essential as some believe. In a National Safety Council 2010 survey, Fortune 500 companies reported that implementing a zero tolerance distracted driving policy did not decrease productivity. In fact, 20 per cent reported that employee productivity increased after implementing their policy.

    Prove it to yourself. Try it for a week. Make the pledge. Make tomorrow the first day of your phone-free driving career.

  4. Challenge others in your workplace to make the phone-free pledge too.

    Supervisors and managers need to support employee phone-free efforts by not expecting them to answer their phones while driving. Ask your supervisors, managers, senior managers and the owner to make the pledge.

  5. Talk about distracted driving with your supervisor and co-workers.

    Every worker has expectations they manage each day. Sometimes what an employee believes or perceives their manager expects is not accurate. Does your supervisor really expect you to answer the phone while driving? Does the company owner really expect you to compromise your safety, their equipment and their business by allowing yourself to be distracted from driving responsibilities?

    If you ask, what they really expect is that you arrive home safely at the end of each workday and are ready to carry on their business the next day and the next week.

  6. Take your phone-free driving habits home with you

    Apply your phone-free practices when driving with friends or family. Show them that you refuse to let distractions compromise your safety, and theirs. Encourage them to do the same. If your partner, kids or friends call you at home and you think they are driving, ask them to call you back when they have safely pulled to the side of the road.

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