Multitasking is a Myth: Defining and Reducing Distracted Driving
Did you know distracted driving is the biggest danger on the road? According to the National Safety Council, distracted driving claims at least nine lives and injures 100 people every day. The month of April isDistracted Driving Awareness Month, dedicated to bringing awareness to the community about the issue.
Defining Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is the act of engaging in other activities that take your full attention and focus away from driving. Some activities that threaten your safety include using a cell phone, conversing with passengers and using vehicle technologies and/or navigation systems.
Multitasking is a Myth
Studies have shown the ability to multitask is a myth. The human brain is not built to perform multiple tasks at the same time. Texting while driving is the most catastrophic distraction. When we send or read a text message, we take our eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when we are traveling at 55mph, that five seconds is an equivalent of driving the length of an entire football stadium with our eyes closed.
Causes of Commercial Vehicle Crashes
A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study has shown that 71% of commercial vehicle crashes are due to distracted drivers.
In 2008, a commercial vehicle driver was distracted by drinking a soda and did not see a stopped school bus with its lights flashing and stop arm extended. Fourteen children were taken to the hospital and four of them had serious injuries. The commercial driver was also transported to the hospital in critical condition.
Commercial vehicle drivers can experience additional distractions to those typical of your personal vehicle. A 2009 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that using a dispatching device while driving increased chances of being involved in a safety-critical event by 9 times. Many companies have developed policies or lock out features of these devices when the truck is moving to reduce incidents.
Tips to Reduce Distracted Driving
According to recommendations from a New Hampshire Occupational Heath Surveillance Program study, employers can help reinforce safe driving practices at work and home through policy enforcement.
Seatbelt usage requirements for drivers and passengers in the workplace can translate to better habits at home. Programs to address distracted and drowsy driving for commercial operators can also reinforce best practices on and off the clock.
Follow these tips to help reduce your distractions:
- Put away your phone
- Plan your route in advance
- Do not multi-task while driving
- Avoid reaching for dropped items
Make a Commitment to Safety
Each one of us can make a difference by being active and mindful of driving distractions and making a commitment to ourselves to eliminate distractions while we are on the road. Employers can implement a cell phone policy to keep employees safe, and parents can set a good example for their children by adhering to safe driving practices.
If you’re a contractor, ask your supervisor if your company has driving policies and programs in place to help reduce driving incidents.
If you’re a Hiring Client, ask your contact at ISN for information on written programs, including those on driving policies.
Interested to learn how ISN could help you manage your contractors and validate written programs like driving policies?