Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 3,450 people were killed on U.S. roadways in 2016 as a result of distracted driving, and an estimated 389,000 people were injured.
Distracted driving occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task of driving. Any non-driving activities you engage in are a potential distraction and endanger you, your passengers, other drivers and any bystanders.
There are many types of driving distractions, including these:
- Eating and drinking;
- Talking to passengers;
- Drowsiness and daydreaming;
- Reading, including maps;
- Using a navigation system;
- Watching a video;
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player;
- Texting; and
- Using a cell phone.
The use of cell phones has the highest risk of all distractions because it involves all three types of driver distraction simultaneously: visual (taking your eyes off of the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your mind off driving). The following are other facts and statistics concerning cell phones and distracted driving:
- Drivers who use hand-held cell phones are four times more likely to get into a crash (Monash University).
- Text messaging while driving increases the crash risk 23 times (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which, when driving 55 mph, is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).
- Using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent (University of Utah).
Drive Free from Distractions
Practicing safe, undistracted driving significantly reduces the chances of a crash or near-crash on the road. Driving already requires a person to multi-task, needing the mind and body to work together to operate the vehicle. Adding on other tasks greatly increases the chance of being involved in a dangerous situation.
It is recommended that organizations incorporate distracted driving policies into their overall transportation safety program. It is important to incorporate distracted driving policies into your organization's overall transportation safety program and educate your staff and volunteer drivers on the many dangers associated with distracted driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a sample policy and further information on distracted driving at www.distraction.gov.
© 2019 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved.This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.