Distracted Driving Takes High Toll

Apr 15 2016 - Workplace Policies, Workplace Safety - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

DistractedDriving

Some multi-tasking can be deadly!

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. If any of your employees drive as part of the work they perform for you, you might want to keep these statistics in mind:

  • Did you know motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S.?
  • Did you know that more than one-quarter of all driving accidents involve someone who is driving for work?
  • Did you know that on average 1,275 workers die each year from work-related crashes on public highways (2003-2010)? There are countless more injury and non-injury crashes each year.

The human costs are tragic. The economic costs of work-related car crashes are also enormous.

For instance, motor vehicle crash injuries cost employers $47.4 billion in 2013, according to a report by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. Three-quarters of this cost resulted from on-the-job crashes. Interestingly, $8.2 billion of this cost came from distracted driver crashes.

On-the-job highway crashes cost employers $24,000 per crash, $45,000 per million vehicle-miles of travel and $68,000 per injury.

Not surprisingly, California had the highest employer costs of motor vehicle crashes – exceeding $4.7 billion.

Employers should first recognize the problem and then work toward a solution.  Don’t forget California’s laws require using hands-free equipment while driving!

If some of your employees drive for work, do you have a policy requiring the use of hands-free devices or requiring employees to pull over to a safe location to take calls? Do you provide hands-free devices to employees who may be taking business calls while on the road, such as members of an outside sales force? Do you prohibit employees from responding to texts while driving and discipline employees for such behavior? How do you handle GPS system distractions? Do you require them to set the map navigation before they begin driving and have an unobstructed view of the road?

Employers need to come up with feasible solutions. Employers have a general duty under state and federal law to provide a safe and healthful workplace and protect workers from recognizable hazards.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control, has a Center for Motor Vehicle Safety and provides resources for employers on driver safety issues. Also, read the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes for tips to help keep employees, and those they share the road with, safe.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

HRCalifornia offers OSHA’s Texting While Driving pamphlet free to nonmembers and members. Distribute this pamphlet to employees who are required to drive to explain the importance of not texting while driving. Not a member? See how HRCalifornia can help you.

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