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Workplace Safety: Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving – Eliminating Risky Behaviors for a Safer Road

Ending Distracted Driving is Everyone's Responsibility

The Fund recognizes that distracted driving can impair safe driving and contribute to vehicle accidents of individual and business drivers. Many business owners are concerned about liability issues in the face of new laws and the impact of distraction-related accidents on their bottom line.

Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.  Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. Distracted driving can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

What Are The Types of Distraction?

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

Distracted Driving Activities:  Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others.  Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. When you send or read a text message, you take your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover the length a football field while driving at 55 mph.

The National Safety Council points out some myths versus facts about distracted driving.

  • Myth 1:  Drivers can multitask.
  • Fact 1:  The human brain cannot multitask. Driving and talking on a cell phone are two thinking tasks. Instead of processing both, your brain rapidly switches between the two cognitive activities. 
  • Myth 2: Talking on a cell phone is no different than talking to someone in the car.
  • Fact 2:  Studies have shown that drivers on cell phones are more oblivious to changing traffic conditions because they are the only ones in the conversation on the road. Drivers with passengers have an extra set of eyes and ears to alert them of traffic problems.
  • Myth 3: Hands-free devices eliminate the danger of cell phone use during driving.
  • Fact 3:  Whether handheld or hands-free, cell phone conversations while driving are still risky because the distraction to the brain remains. According to a study by Carnegie Mellon, brain activity that processes movement decreases by as much as 39% when listening to language.
  • Myth 4: Drivers talking on cell phones still have a quicker reaction time that those who are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Fact 4:  A driving simulation study showed drivers using cell phones actually had slower reaction times than drivers with a .08 blood alcohol content. 

The following are some tips to avoid distracted driving:

  • Hang up the phone when you get in your vehicle.
  • Check e-mail and voicemail before starting to drive.
  • Adjust vehicle controls before driving.
  • Do not eat and drink while operating a vehicle.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.

Consequences for Violating Policy:  It is important to understand that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 49CFR Part 390.17 prohibits texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and violation of this regulation may result in steep fines. The Fund strongly encourages all members to implement a distracted driving policy to reduce their exposure and liability. Compliance with these standards will help to ensure the safe operation of company vehicles for Fund members and their employees. For more information, contact RPS Regency at 800.686.6640.