Would you ever agree to drive the length of a football field with your eyes closed? Probably not. And yet, at 55 mph, that’s approximately how far your vehicle will travel while you spend five seconds reading or composing a text message instead of focusing on the road ahead. Distracted driving is an epidemic that claims the lives of thousands of Americans each year.1 And while there are various distractions that can occur behind the wheel, there is one type that can be easily eliminated: mobile devices.
The Myth of Multitasking
Safety-minded businesses generally take the necessary step of prohibiting mobile device use while operating machinery, or while in areas where potentially hazardous activities are taking place — and behind the wheel is no exception. Although humans are capable of many amazing things, it is important to consider one simple fact: multitasking does not work.2
The human brain can switch swiftly from task to task, but it can’t focus on more than one task at a time, even though it may appear that way to an outside observer. It is one of the many reasons why mobile device use behind the wheel can have such dire consequences.
Create a Strong Driving Policy
Without clear outlines and policies regarding mobile device use for company drivers, there may be a higher risk of employees ignoring the rules and causing disasters that may have been preventable. The primary reason to ban the use of mobile devices in company vehicles is to protect employees — and keep them focused on the main task at hand: driving. Implementing a strong driving policy can help to keep employees safe, help protect the business, and help keep the roads safer for everyone. A strong policy could:
- Prohibit company drivers from using mobile devices and other activities that cause distractions behind the wheel.
- Where appropriate, incorporate driver standards and screening for company drivers.
- Outline expectations for safe usage of company vehicles.
- Clarify consequences for failure to follow the company policy.
- Go beyond the minimum local, state, and federal laws applicable to your business.
Take Safe Driving to the Next Level
Every employee should be trained, and regularly retrained, on your driving policy and safe driving practices. Present information in a fresh and memorable way to increase retention when you reinforce the message with your team. Also, follow through on the consequences of failing to comply with your company driving policy consistently.
For Don Aragon, president of VA Electric, located in Albuquerque, NM, mobile device distractions while driving have become a daily battle for his company’s drivers. With Federated Insurance at his side, Aragon is taking the extra steps to help keep his employees safe on the road.
“We are currently in the process of implementing a telematics program in all of our company owned vehicles,” he said, adding that they are excited about this program, and believe it will help reinforce good driving habits. This program helps manage company drivers as they navigate the roads, and provides weekly summaries on how drivers are doing behind the wheel to better evaluate their behaviors and make informed decisions.
Aragon currently has a company driving policy in place that outlines the company’s expectations for driving safely and what is, and is not, permissible regarding mobile device use while driving a company vehicle. His company also conducts a quarterly safety meeting, focused specifically on safe-driving habits and the dangers of distracted driving.
Prevention is Protection
Auto crashes due to mobile device use are not going away, and their financial consequences keep growing, along with the risks to employee drivers and others on the road. Keeping attention on this important topic is key. Post signs, dedicate regular safety meetings to the subject — take the extra steps to let your employees know that mobile devices can be a threat to the business they work for, to their own safety, and to the safety of everyone on the road.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Statistics 2019. https:// www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving. Accessed 2/15/22.
- Cleveland Clinic – Health Essentials. 3/10/21. Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials. Accessed 2/16/22.