If you work in transit, run a taxi service, or manage a freight delivery or shipping service, many of the employees under your supervision spend the majority of their workday on the road. And that likely means you spend a lot of time considering how to reduce the risks of distracted driving.
However, you don’t have to work in the transportation industry for distracted driving to be a danger to your employees. Nearly everyone drives to and from work and gets around by car in their free time. That means there are plenty of opportunities for them to become distracted behind the wheel—and potentially cause a serious incident as a result. And that can have major consequences for you. After all, employees’ well-being and safety are important to you and your company at all times, not only when workers are on the clock.
Every April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month aims to bring attention to this ongoing and increasingly serious issue. Here are a few ways to honor this month, increase awareness and engage workers in a dialogue about driving safety.
Sending an e-blast at the beginning of each week is an excellent way to personally remind workers about the dangers of distracted driving. Consider sharing content that is easy to access and quick to read or watch, like videos, PSAs, infographics, articles, or stories that will inspire. You can also prompt people to set short-term goals regarding what they should be mindful of that week. Using engaging content can increase its viewership and help drive home the scale of the problem. Lower-tech options like displaying driving-related safety posters or distributing a memo can also stress the importance of staying focused when driving.
Take the challenge
The National Safety Council and Distraction.gov encourage everyone to take a pledge to drive distraction-free, which includes turning off your phone and putting it away before driving. Encourage workers to accept this challenge and follow its rules. It may require support from the safety team to help employees stick to the commitment, but it will also show them just how much easier it is to avoid distraction when handheld (or hands-free) devices remain out of reach.
Organize a training session
Sometimes it takes bringing in a professional to really get employees to listen and respond. April is a great month to have a safety consultant deliver a presentation, or to order custom health and safety training to help employees brush up on their knowledge of how human factors affect distraction.
It’s worth remembering that the more engaging and interesting the session is, the bigger the impact it will have on the participants. Simple reminders of road safety rules in front of the employees are not going to be enough—motivational presentations need to really make the workers analyze the way they drive.
Home is where the safety is
Initiatives focused on fighting distracted driving should include off-the-job components. This could be something you could encourage workers to take home and share with their families. If they educate their driving-age children on the issue of distracted driving, they could help make it as socially unacceptable as drunk driving.
Regardless of their own views on their personal safety, every employee holds the safety of their loved ones in the highest regard. When employees take their training home, it helps them to retain it better. Research shows that when trainees teach what they’ve learned to others, it dramatically improves their recollection of knowledge.
Stand for your workers’ safety
Even the most disciplined drivers will, at times, succumb to distraction and its many causes. Truck drivers who spend long hours on the same freeway, or people who use the same route to drive to and from work every day, are at higher risk of zoning out or falling victim to highway hypnosis than other cars on the road. And for people who don’t sit behind the wheel for a living, even something as minor as taking the same route home every day can quickly lead to complacency.
If drivers are rushing to reach a destination on time, they may become preoccupied and stop paying attention. Stress, frustration and fatigue can all have the same impact. With so many possible causes of distraction, it is paramount to protect your employees and provide them with the encouragement and the tools they need to fight back.
Any commitment to driving phone-free and distraction-free should be a permanent one. Distracted Driving Month might only last thirty days, but it aims to inspire lasting change—and once you decide to address the issue within your workforce, you should stick with it year round.
Remind employees of any pledges they’ve committed to and take steps to disrupt the complacency that will eventually set in once their commitment is in the rearview mirror. Also, make sure that management leads by example and nobody is above the new regulations. You’re all in this together and everyone should participate in efforts to eliminate distracted driving.
There is no better way to combat distracted driving than by providing human factors safety training. And by addressing the underlying reasons for driver distraction you could help employees remain safe and maintain focus everywhere it occurs, not just behind the wheel. If they learn how to deal with frustration, rushing or fatigue behind the wheel, they will be more likely to use their coping methods everywhere else. And vice versa—if they learn to address those states throughout their day, they will be less likely to be influenced and distracted by them behind the wheel.