Distracted Driving and the Rising Cost of Commercial Auto Insurance

Distracted driving isn’t just dangerous – it’s also costly. In fact, crashes involving distracted driving cost employers more than $72,000 per non-fatal accident and as much as $4.3 billion per year in total.

Accidents caused by distractions while driving are not a new phenomenon, but as more devices are used by drivers (and drivers become more comfortable using them while behind the wheel), the risk of having an accident has greatly increased.

In fact, in a 2015 Department of Transportation Study of 2,982,000 auto crashes, the critical reason, (which is the last event in the crash chain), was assigned to the driver in 94 percent of the crashes.

Of these, 41 percent were due to “Recognition Issues” or being distracted while driving. That’s over 838,000 auto crashes due to distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a real problem for your business, but it is preventable.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

How to Reduce Distracted Driving

Before driving

  • Familiarize yourself with the vehicle controls (radio, wipers, lights, etc.).
  • Do not leave loose articles in the vehicle that may slide around while you’re driving.
  • Adjust mirrors.
  • Prepare in advance for things you may need while you are driving like sunglasses, toll money, or other items.
  • Make as many adjustments as possible like seat position, radio, temperature volume, windows, etc.
  • Take care of personal hygiene (e.g., shaving, putting on make-up, etc.) prior to driving.
  • Make sure you are well-rested.
  • Take care of phone calls, eating, or other activities prior to driving.
  • Know your route before you leave.

While operating a vehicle

distracted driving gif
  • Drive defensively. Remember, you need to compensate for the actions of other drivers.
  • Do not eat or drink.
  • Do not read or write anything.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Do not use communications devices (e.g., cell phones), except in an emergency.
  • Do not engage in distracting conversations.

Take a break

  • If you feel your concentration is impaired or something is distracting you, park the vehicle in a safe location and take a break.
  • Get out of the vehicle at a safe location, walk around, and stretch.
  • If you need to make a phone call or receive an important phone call, pull over and make that call from the parked car.
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times and keep your mind on driving!

Establish a distracted driving policy.

According to a recent polldistracted driving is viewed as the number one contributor to the increase in vehicle accidents in the U.S.

As a standard protocol, a company should establish a distracted driving policy that extends to all workers who drive – whether full-time or part-time and for those that drive their own vehicles for work purposes.

A distracted driver policy should be in writing, enforceable, and designed to protect employees and the public.

Key Elements of a Distracted Driving Policy

Ban Mobile Devices

Prohibit the use of any mobile devices—personal or company owned—while driving. This includes phone calls and texting.

Don’t Forget Other Distractions

Remember to also ban other distracting activities, such as reading, grooming, and eating.

Reduce Temptations

Ask managers and employees to actively avoid calling or texting coworkers during times they’re normally driving. Policy should be to let incoming calls go to voicemail whenever driving.

Train—and Retrain

Require all employees to attend training/retraining programs on distracted driving causes and consequences. Make sure these get scheduled throughout the year and whenever new team members join.

Communicate Annually

Launch an annual communication campaign to consistently reinforce the policy.

Gather Feedback

Consider an online forum where employees can share and review ideas and best practices for preventing distracted driving.

Reinforce Positive Behavior

Reward and publicly recognize employees you’ve witnessed adhering to—or reminding others of—these policies.

Properly Maintain Vehicles

Provide scheduled maintenance to reduce the risk of mechanical problems that might distract or endanger—such as malfunctioning blinkers, windshield wipers, or dashboard lights.

Offer Storage

Offer in-vehicle storage for work-related equipment or personal items that might spill or roll underfoot while driving.

Build in Communication and Meal Times

Employees feel pressured to perform by eating on the road or responding to manager calls. Supervisors must champion safety, building in time for drivers to eat meals and return calls or texts.

Enforce the Rules

Monitor circumstances that might lead employees to disobey or ignore policy rules (e.g., managers or staff regularly calling employees who are driving).

Stay Consistent

Follow through on consequences and/or penalties for drivers who do not comply with the policy.

Review the Policy

Assign a key person or team to regularly review and update the policy as new circumstances or practices arise.

At Rogue Risk, we can help you build your Distracted Driving Policy and communicating it to your team.

The Rub

Distracted driving is no joke.

Commercial auto accidents can have a sever impact on your business, such as:

  • Injure employees,
  • Damage company vehicles,
  • Reduce operational efficiency and effectiveness,
  • Increase cost of insurance, and
  • Lost administrative time due injury management.

By focusing on hiring good drivers and implementing a solid training program you can take control of the cost of your commercial auto insurance.

We can help.

If your current insurance professional has never addressed issues like this with you before, then I’d encourage you to reach out to us today.

I look forward to introducing you to a new way of viewing your insurance program.

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

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