Distracted driving is a serious problem in the United States. Every year, approximately 3,000 people die due to distracted driving, and even more are injured. Commercial drivers have an increased obligation to stay safe and set a good example on the road.
Many fleets are investing in advanced technologies to detect distracted driving, but the issue starts with drivers. Here are some of our best tips to decrease distracted driving in your fleet.
Put Mobile Devices Away
At this point, every driver knows that they should not be texting or checking their phone while driving. However, that does not ensure compliance. Every driver in your fleet must be able to put mobile devices away while they are on the road. The only circumstances in which it is appropriate to have a phone out while driving are when your employee is pulled over or there is an extreme emergency where they cannot safely get off the road.
It is a good idea to ask your employees to sign a cell phone policy acknowledging that they understand what your rules are and what the consequences will be for breaking them. This can be included in your employee handbook or as a separate document. Additionally, some fleets explore technological solutions to this issue, including requiring drivers to use apps that will block incoming text messages, calls, and notifications while the vehicle is in motion.
Monitor Driving Conditions
Avoiding distracted driving is about more than simply putting your phone down – it’s also about keeping an eye on other people on the road. You can control what drivers in your fleet do, but you cannot control other people on the road. Train your employees in how to spot signs of drivers who are not paying attention and how to distance themselves from the vehicle. Some of these signs include:
- Drinking or eating behind the wheel
- Large variations in speed
- A bent-over or hunched posture
- Hitting the brakes frequently and suddenly
- A light coming from their lap in the dark
People are much more likely to be compliant with rules when they understand why they were made and what their importance is. Take time to educate your employees on the reasons why distracted driving is so dangerous. When you can see the impact of talking on the phone while driving or the tragic losses that occur due to a lack of attention on the road, it is much easier to tuck your phone away and pay attention.
Beyond providing employees with a video or informational session, you may consider investing in training on distracted driving. This training can educate employees on how quickly things can happen on the road. Many people assume that sending a single text message is OK, but distracted driving training can you give them the opportunity to see firsthand that that is not true.
Keep Vehicles Safe
Mitigating distractions is one piece of the puzzle, but ensuring that your fleet is in good condition will also help make sure that every vehicle is able to avoid damage and get to safety if an accident does occur on the road. Headlights and rear lights must be kept functional. Tire pressure should also be confirmed before hitting the road.
Regular fleet maintenance will ensure that critical safety systems, like the brakes, are in good working order. Because you cannot control the actions of everyone else on the road, having a vehicle in good condition will allow drivers to respond quickly in dangerous situations. As seasons change, a good fleet maintenance partner will also ensure that every vehicle is ready for changing weather conditions and harsh weather like sleet, rain, and snow.