Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of worker fatalities each year? Drive Safely Work Week, observed during the first week of October, calls attention to the importance of preventing distracted driving on the job.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert attention away from the primary task of driving, such as using a cell phone or smartphone, eating or drinking, and reading maps or using a navigation system. Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.
As a business owner or manager, it’s your legal responsibility under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act to safeguard workers who drive as part of their job. Companies are in violation of the law (and many state laws) if, by policy or practice, they:
- Require texting while driving;
- Create incentives that encourage or condone texting and driving; or
- Structure work so that texting while driving is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their jobs.
How to Discourage Distracted Driving
OSHA advises employers to send a clear message to workers and supervisors that the company neither requires nor condones texting while driving. Specifically, employers should:
- Enact a company policy on distracted driving that prohibits texting while driving (this model policy can help you get started).
- Establish work procedures and rules that do not make it necessary for workers to text while driving in order to carry out their duties.
- Set up clear procedures, times, and places for drivers’ safe use of texting and other technologies for communicating with managers, customers, and others.
- Incorporate safe communications practices into worker orientation and training.
- Eliminate financial and other incentive systems that encourage workers to text while driving.