Creating a Distracted Driving policy – Why and how

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is driving while engaged in other activities which include using a cell phone, texting, eating, or reading.

Activities such as these take the driver’s attention away from the road. Distractions while driving can be separated into three distinct groups:

  • Visual –  distraction involves taking one’s eyes off the road
  • Manual –  involves taking one’s hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive –  occurs when an individual takes their mind off of driving

All distractions compromise the safety of the driver, passengers, bystanders, and other individuals on the road. Distractions influenced by technology, especially text messaging or talking on the phone, require visual, manual, and cognitive attention of the driver, thus making these types of distractions particularly dangerous.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, “text messaging while driving creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving while not distracted.

Distracted Driving & the Law

Today, any business or public entity with a vehicle fleet is at risk. A crash involving one of your drivers could mean an injured employee, a damaged vehicle or even a bankrupting lawsuit that can exceed limits of liability on your auto insurance policy. No company is free from this threat, and in today’s litigious society without the proper written fleet policies and insurance coverage, this could spell disaster to your balance sheet.

Bylaws against distracted driving are already enforced in Cape Town, and will be rolled out in other provinces soon, in addition to current legislation. You can read more about the distracted diving and South African law in this article by lawyer Levanya Takoorparsadh.

distracted driving policy

Distracted Driving Policy

To save lives and protect yourself from risks and liability, develop a Distracted Work and Cellphone Driving Policy, writes Brian Irlam.

Cellphones pose great workplace and road traffic risks. Employers could adopt, or adapt a policy to their conditions and risk profile. The text should be customised to suit the relevant industry, site and or jobs, with reference to the directly relevant legal register, corporate policies, induction training, job training, appointments and contracts.

Brain Irlam offers this policy development advice;

  1. Advise employees and management of the implementation of the policy, at a Sheq meeting, in memos and in notices.
  2. Inform employers that the driving policy is part of the standard company employment policy.
  3. Link the policy to the management system, and the risk of accidents, incidents, injuries, losses and costs, as well as the duty of care.
  4. Appoint a champion to explain the motivation and format of the policy, and to incorporate employee suggestions in the text.
  5. Apply the policy in relevant disciplinary procedures.

You can download a draft example of a Distracted Driving Policy here. It needs to be emphasized that this policy is a sample and draft document only, and must still be customised to the relevant industry, site and business it will be used for, with reference to the relevant legal register, corporate policies, induction training, training, appointments and contracts.

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2 thoughts on “Creating a Distracted Driving policy – Why and how

  1. Thanks for great articles on distracted driving. I look forward to your articles every week and use them where applicable in my driver training and accident investigations.

  2. DO you know what you should be doing when driving?

    Yep that’s right. DRIVING. Nothing Else.

    When behind the wheel of that car, truck or bus and the company LDV there is nothing more important than your focus. A sharp, accurate and precise focus on what’s ahead, around and behind your vehicle. Stay aware of road and weather conditions, traffic, pedestrians, your speed, and your need to be in complete control of your vehicle.

    Do not take a call, make a call, text, apply makeup, eat, and or let your eyes or mind wander to other people in your car, or do anything other than focus on your driving. Remember texting (In particular whilst driving is a major cause for serious and fatal motor vehicle collisions) and there is no spell check, or delete function for motor vehicle collisions. Also if applying makeup whilst driving and a collision occurs you will be smearing more than your lip stick, perhaps your life or that of someone else.

    If any of the above things must be done, pull safely off the road and out of the traffic flow to do them.

    Every day people are killed and injured simply because a driver is distracted. Don’t be one of them.

    Make use of the policy, be the policy and set am example for all.

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