Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of fatal crashes in B.C. It’s also preventable. And it’s not just about phone use. There are many potential distractions. Anything that takes attention away from work-related or other driving can put drivers and others at risk. Even a small distraction can have a lifetime of devastating consequences.
What is distracted driving?
It’s any activity that diverts a driver’s attention while behind the wheel – even for a moment. The distraction can be mental or physical. Examples include:
- Texting or calling (even hands-free)
- Using any electronic device, such as a smart watch
- Adjusting the vehicle seat, mirrors, or entertainment systems
- Eating or drinking
- Talking with passengers
What makes distracted driving risky?
People can’t drive safely when distracted. Our brains can only deal with a certain amount of information at once. Doing multiple tasks at the same time, like driving while talking on the phone, can impair the ability to process key driving information.
Texting while behind the wheel is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. It’s also one of the most dangerous. Drivers are five times more likely to crash when on a cell phone, according to ICBC statistics.
Research suggests texting may be the new drunk driving. A distracted driver can function — or malfunction — in much the same way a drunk driver does. Both have impaired capabilities and judgment. Both have the potential to cause serious injury to themselves and others on the road.
Employer tips for reducing the risk of distracted driving
Delivery drivers, managers, warehouse workers, office staff, sales reps – anyone in your organization who drives on the job can be at risk. It’s important to remember that most distracted driving is preventable. And preventing crashes can help protect your business from increased insurance premiums, possible litigation expenses, lost productivity, negative publicity, and a decrease in employee morale.
Here are steps employers can take to help reduce the risk:
Learn more about distracted driving
Review our no-cost Distracted Driving – More than Just Phones webinar.
Create a policy and safe work practices
You need to have and use distracted driving safety policies or programs for your workplace. These need to spell out your expectations on the use of electronic devices and other distractions. Use our Distracted Driving Policy Template to create guidelines for your organization.
Communicate your policy and practices
Educate, instruct, and train, and supervise your drivers — all of them. Communicate the policy and practices to your managers and workers — often.
Support your workers
Have your workers create an "I'm behind the wheel" voice message before they begin driving. Instruct them to first safely pull over and park if they need to take a call, answer a text, or check voicemail.
Set an example
Policies apply to everyone. Don’t undermine yours by not following it.
Driver tips for reducing the risk of distracted driving
People can be distracted even if they are driving only for a few minutes. Here are some steps drivers can take to help reduce their risk:
- Turn the phone off or activate its “Do not disturb” feature before hitting the road
- Adjust the climate control, sound system, mirrors, and seats before setting out
- Find a safe place to pull over before making any calls or texting, or eating
- Store anything loose — water bottles, paperwork, etc. — so it doesn’t roll or blow around the vehicle and create a distraction
- Have a pre-programmed music playlist ready to go