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