MOVE OVER, SLOW DOWN, AND USE THAT TURN SIGNAL!
APRIL IS DISTRACTED DRIVING AWARENESS MONTH
I am a road warrior, and I see it all: texting, talking, eating, fighting, shaving, reading, writing, applying makeup, changing, dancing . . . you name it, I’ve seen it behind the wheel, driving down the road. Driving has now been relegated as one more item to multi-task in our busy schedules. Whether you are a home healthcare provider or a logistics and transportation company, behind the wheel is not the place for your drivers to multi-task.
Before the advent of cell phones, we were taught to drive attentively, scanning the road before you, checking mirrors for what is behind and beside you. Being aware of your surroundings is half the battle and allows drivers to be prepared for sudden stops, approaching cars in the blind spot, unannounced lane changes, and approaching emergency vehicles.
Driving distractions can be reduced to three categories:
Visual: Texting, emailing, map reading, checking makeup, talking with people in the backseat via the mirror, gawking at emergency vehicles or accidents. Cell phones, in particular, create large visual distractions.
Manual: Texting, emailing, dialing a phone number, programming GPS addresses, reaching for radio temperature controls, adjusting seats and mirrors, combing your hair, shaving, eating, jotting a quick note, reaching for dropped items – Anything that ties up your hands falls into this category.
Cognitive: A car full of teenagers. Loud music. Audio books. You overslept. Homework was forgotten until the last minute. Flat tire. The water heater finally died. Your mind is on so many other things. If you’re already running behind, you likely will not recoup more than 1 to 2 minutes by rushing in the car. Take a deep breath, shake it off, and focus on your surroundings. There is no better time to appreciate the natural beauty around you than one of these mornings.
Safety Tips for Commercial Drivers in Missouri
First and foremost, PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Toss it in the back seat, lock it in the glove box, or (gasp!) turn it off …whatever it takes to eliminate the distraction. If you’re like me and rely on your GPS app, use a dash mount so you’re not fumbling with the phone or looking down, and program your directions before you take off. Activate the Do Not Disturb function on your phone so you don’t receive notifications while driving. It’s always preferable to pull off the road to talk or text. If you have to drive and talk, use a Bluetooth speaker or headset so you can do so hands-free. Just remember – even talking is distracting.
Consciously challenge yourself to keep your dominant hand on the wheel: If you are right-handed, drive with your right hand on the wheel at all times – consciously choose not to check text or email notifications or use the phone. You’ll be surprised how effective this little trick can be.
Talk with your teen about the responsibility of driving attentively, and teach good driving habits by example. There is no room for aggression and rage on our roads, and kids learn more from our actions than our words. Practice what you teach.
Safe Driving Policies for Missouri Businesses
Pull out that driving policy and give it a review. Confirm that the policy requires all occupants of company vehicles to wear seat belts and bans the use of handheld cell phones. Equip your vehicles with hands-free technology. Require drivers to pull off the road to use phones or text. Be specific about your expectations, and reinforce these expectations by incorporating them into safety meeting discussions.
Whatever it takes, put the phone down, observe the speed limit, slow down for work zones, move over for emergency vehicles, and use that turn signal. Each of us has the power to make the road a safer place – one driver at a time. Contact us for help reviewing and developing sound policies today.