In this day and age, there are many factors impacting safe driving, including physical (vision and fatigue), roadway (confusing road conditions and poor lighting), and vehicle (working lights). Distractions are also a huge issue impacting safe driving and can result from cell phone use (talking on the phone while driving), texting, reading, and eating to name a few. In fact, there has been a 26 percent increase in auto injuries between 2009 and 2016 (National Safety Council, August 2016).
Organizations with commercial vehicle operations, including those whose employees operate their own personal vehicles for business, are at risk for negligent entrustment lawsuits. Specific triggers tied to large negligence verdicts include employers not adhering to distracted driving policies consistently and driver fatigue. In this blog, we will explore these factors and highlight steps employers and individuals can take to be safer on the road.
Distracted driving is a widespread problem. A study on using cell phones while driving conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that drivers’ eyes were not on the road from 43 to 65 percent of the time while using a cell phone, even if they were using a hands-free device. Additionally, texting and talking are contributing causes in 25 percent of all crashes (National Safety Council, August 2017). Some other issues that contribute to distracted driving include the following:
- Eating and drinking
- Operating the radio
There are many things to consider before drivers head out on the road. Overall alertness and physical state of mind are essential to ensuring a safe driving experience. A lack of rest, poor eating habits, and excessive physical labor are just a few of the many things that can cause fatigue. When it comes to employees who are driving for work related reasons (e.g., delivery and truck drivers) and have to follow certain routes, poor route planning can contribute to driver fatigue and accidents. When routes are not planned well, it can encourage rushing and subject drivers to heavy traffic, more night driving, and erratic sleep schedules.
Being safe while driving is paramount to those of us who operate motor vehicles. Transportation safety programs need to be applied to all vehicles used by employees, including personal vehicles. It is important that employers implement distracted driving policies that are specific, enforced consistently, not open to interpretation, state the consequences of failure to follow the policy and document how policies are enforced. Doing so will provide employees with a solid understanding of what is required of them and they can act accordingly.
Individuals operating vehicles should follow these tips for safe driving before hitting the road:
- Get adequate rest
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Avoid medication that may induce drowsiness
- Pull over to make phone calls and answer texts
- Always keep your eyes on the road at ALL TIMES
To learn how to protect your business and enforce driver safety, check out our white paper: Are Your Drivers Threatening the Survival of Your Business?.