- December 21, 2018
- Posted by: Sage Shield Safety Consultants
- Category: Overseas Occupational Health And Safety News
A multi-faceted approach is important when addressing distracted driving. Educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving at every opportunity.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
About nine people die each day as a result of distracted driving. Another 1,000 injuries occur per day in accidents that reportedly involve a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
These injuries or deaths cost organizations a pretty penny. On average, a single-vehicle crash can cost employers about $16,500, noted The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA). And, if the accident results in injuries, that amount skyrockets to more than $74,000. In the worst-case scenario, costs of a fatal crash can start at $500,000.
These eye-popping stats illuminate the importance of implementing a top-notch driver distraction program in work truck fleets large and small. And, as mobile technology continues to proliferate, driver distractions grow as well.
Let’s break down the numbers further:
Top Distracted Driving Behaviors
Distracted driving behaviors include answering the phone or making a call, reading or sending text messages, surfing the internet, posting to social media, and even participating in a video chat — all while driving. A 2016 NSC survey of more than 3,400 adult drivers across the U.S. revealed that drivers engaged in distracting behaviors often or occasionally:
Plus, distracted drivers are more likely than all other drivers to have a near collision, fail to stop at an intersection, and exceed the speed limit, according to a recent SmartDrive Systems study.
Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident than undistracted drivers. (Source: University of Utah)
The costs of distracted driving accidents can permanently hurt an organization. Beyond increased insurance premiums, possible litigation expenses, Workers’ Comp claims, lower vehicle value, and lost productivity, companies experiencing vehicle accidents sometimes suffer from negative publicity, permanent damage to their corporate image, and a decrease in employee morale. In fact, when factoring in everything, the actual cost of an accident is three to five-times higher than the direct costs.
Minimize Distracted Driving
What can fleets do to minimize distracted driving? We compiled a list of best practices from fleet management and safety companies that will help drivers eliminate unnecessary driver distractions.
A Multi-Faceted Approach to Minimize Distracted Driving
Most fleet management and safety companies recommend a multi-faceted approach to minimize distracted driving as follows: Educate about distracted driving and implement policy; define penalties for non-compliance, and monitor driver behavior.
Remember to follow up this three-pronged approach to minimizing distracted driving with ongoing driver training. A one-time driver-training session won’t do the trick.
About 9 people are killed each day and more than 1,000 injured per day in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. (Source: NHTSA)
Ivey Mechanical Implements Distracted Driving Program
A few years ago, Ivey Mechanical Co., based in Kosciusko, Miss., saw its vehicle accidents rising. The company’s fleet of more than 400 vehicles includes ½- and ¾-ton pickups, ¾-ton service vans, and passenger vehicles. Because of the increase in accidents, the company’s CEO asked the IT department to find a way to minimize distracted driving.
To solve the problem, the IT department educated its drivers on the dangers of distracted driving by updating its electronic use policy to include wording specific to device use while driving, including the perils of using a phone or other device while driving, as well as anything else that would require them to take their eyes off the road. It then implemented a distracted driving program.
“As a tool to discourage the use of a phone other than on Bluetooth using voice commands, we use a distracted driving program, LifeSaver, to monitor compliance of our distracted driving policy,” said Luther Burrell, vice president of Administration and IT at Ivey Mechanical.
IT went office by office, installed the app, and educated its safety officers in each office on how to use the software portal and reporting for monitoring violations. The company’s safety officers get daily and weekly activity reports of violators for the previous day and week. These reports are used to identify repeat offenders, as well as determine disciplinary action.
Following the implementation of the program, not only did the behavior and attitudes of the drivers change, the number of at-fault accidents in the fleet decreased significantly, according to Burrell.
“As a result of fewer at-fault accidents, this past year we were rewarded for our efforts in a reduction of our driving liability rates,” he stated.
The program’s success was directly tied to obtaining management’s buy-in. “When implementing a distracted driving initiative, it is imperative to have the support and backing of all levels of management within the organization,” Burrell said. “Without it, the program is doomed for failure.”
Virginia Eagle Lowers Mobile Phone Use & Insurance Claims
Todd Hargest, director of safety and transportation at Virginia Eagle Distributing Co., a beverage distribution business headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., helped dramatically minimize distracted driving in the company’s self-insured fleet of 95 trucks, which includes 53 medium-duty side-load vehicles.
“Five years ago, we wanted to minimize the number and severity of accidents,” Hargest said. “So we looked at different systems and ways to do so.”
After extensive research, Hargest selected the SmartDrive video-based safety program, which fully managed the service, an important criterion for Virginia Eagle’s busy service managers. The program reviews and scores triggered events and delivers a “3-steps to Coach” workflow. The managers at each of the company’s seven locations spend only five to 10 minutes daily addressing the most significant incidents.
The fleet has used the program for three years with significant results. The company has:
While a few drivers pushed back on the new program initially, Hargest pointed out that the “good drivers” immediately saw the benefit of minimizing distracted driving. “These systems are there to protect the driver, and good drivers will appreciate a system like this,” he said.