Safety Spotlight: Distracted Driving

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By Dave Sanders, Safety and Loss Prevention Manager

This is a topic we’ve covered before, but it bears repeating. Distracted driving—whether it’s texting, calling, emailing, eating, smoking, or any other action that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the steering wheel—is a very dangerous activity and is becoming more and more prevalent in recent years due to increased cell phone usage. It may not seem like a big deal to take a quick glance at your phone to check an email or respond to a text, but every time you do so you are greatly increasing your chances of getting into an accident, injuring yourself and possibly others.

Distracted Driving Statistics

  • Distracted driving is the cause in over 40% of accidents
  • It’s estimated that roughly 25% of motor vehicle fatalities are a result of distracted driving
  • The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 25% of crashes involve cell phones
  • Drivers using handheld or hands-free devices are four times more likely to crash
  • 660,000 drivers on U.S. roads are using mobile devices at this very moment

Hands-Free Is Not Risk-Free

Keep in mind that using a hands-free device (an earpiece, dashboard system, speakerphone, or voice-to-text) is not substantially safer than hand-held use. The brain can quickly toggle between tasks but CANNOT do two things at the same time. The area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 1/3 when listening or talking on a phone.

  • Voice-to-text offers no safety advantage over manual texting, says a study conducted by Texas A&M Transportation Institute. In fact, new studies show using voice-to-text is MORE distracting than typing texts by hand.
  • AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research shows that voice-activated in-car technologies dangerously undermine driver attention.
  • Even at stop lights, it’s important to remain an attentive driver. A recent AAA study shows that people are distracted up to 27 seconds after they finish sending a voice text.

So, while you’re driving…

  • Allow phone calls to go to voicemail OR pull over at a safe location (rest stop or commuter lot) to make and receive calls
  • Do not text, surf the web, or read emails
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, or groom yourself
  • Keep two hands on the wheel for better control and less fatigue (plus you can’t hold your phone)
  • Keep your eyes and mind on the road!

Please, hang up and drive!

If you operate a company vehicle, you should already be aware of our distracted driving policy and the disciplinary action plan for those observed driving distracted. Remember, our policy is in place for your safety. Make a conscious effort to focus on the road ahead, and don’t let anything distract you. A fraction of a second could mean the difference between life and death. If you have any questions or would like more information on this, please don’t hesitate to contact me at dsanders@ruppertcompanies.com.