Distracted Driving: Texting Isn’t the Only Cause

by Jude Carter

Today the second National Distracted Driving Summit is meeting in Washington to address the “Awareness Gap” around the dangers of distracted driving. You’d think that with the non-stop publicity and conversation on texting while driving, more people would have wised up by now. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

While cell phones, and particularly texting, appear to pose the greatest threat, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, all it takes is three seconds of inattention to potentially cause a crash. Here’s a list of other risky behaviors causing distraction:
· Reaching for a moving object
· Driving drowsy
· Eating
· Looking at an external object
· Reading
· Applying make-up

While government and law enforcement officials duke it out in Washington, it’s up to us as managers to emphasize to all our workers the importance of staying focused while driving. We cannot afford to wait for this to become law. Whether your employees drive for a living and are potentially distracted by maps, GPS, or dispatching devices, or they are office workers driving to work while eating their oatmeal, the message is the same. Distractions can kill.

Your workplace communication programs should include ongoing safety messages on how to encourage safe driving by minimizing distractions such as:
· Plan ahead by getting directions, pre-programming your GPS, checking maps before you turn on the ignition
· Avoid multi-tasking in the car. If you finish getting dressed at home, you can focus on driving instead of shaving or applying make-up
· Don’t think of your drive as “down time”. Given high speeds, weather and road conditions, your attention needs to be concentrated on driving defensively.

And speaking of distractions, if you want your employees to read and retain these kinds of tips, you should consider using visual communication.  Making these important messages visual with colorful graphics and photos will improve your chances of reaching your workers.

Jude Carter
September 21, 2010

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