Using Technology to Improve Driving Behaviors
March 7, 2019 | Juli Jenkins, SCLA
Every year, over 34,000 people die in road crashes, and that number is only rising, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As technology has progressed over the years, so has the number of road crashes, showing an increase of 2,000 accidents per year.
While advances in technology allow us to communicate with the world around us more easily, they also come with unexpected hazards.
Individuals have become more attached to their phones, and as that attachment increases, so do the risks. It has become increasingly difficult for some to put down their phone, even while driving. This creates a significant safety hazard, increasing the risk of road crashes immensely.
Drivers who focus on their phones instead of the road significantly reduce their ability to react to changing conditions and hazards. Here are some helpful tips on how to reduce this risk, and drive safely!
Put your phone somewhere you can’t reach!
Sometimes it’s just a habit to check your phone, even when driving. These are the moments when something can happen. Looking away from the road to send a text typically takes about 5 seconds. If you’re going 55 mph and not looking at the road for 5 seconds, you’ll have traveled about the length of a football field. Put that phone somewhere you can’t reach it and eliminate the unnecessary distraction!
Download a driving app
You can find an app for just about anything. Unsurprisingly, there are tons of apps that promote safe driving. Some apps, such as SAFE 2 SAVE, awards points for not looking at your phone while driving. Once you collect enough points, you can get a reward such as a gift card to a local restaurant. Why not get rewarded for something that's easy to do anyway?
Alert those who may contact you that you’re driving
Many people are tempted when they receive a notification from their phone, wanting to text or return a call. Instead of giving in to this temptation, alert people that you are going to be behind the wheel, and will talk to them soon. If need be, pull over and stop somewhere. Just don’t text and drive! Letting people know you’re going to be driving will reduce the temptation to text them back while driving.
Mount your phone on your dashboard
Many people use their phone while driving for its GPS capabilities. This can be just as dangerous as texting if you’re continually looking at your phone to figure out directions. There are plenty of ways to avoid this, and one simple way is to mount it on your dashboard, so you don’t have to look away from the road for directions. Additionally, make sure the navigator’s voice is at full volume, so you don’t have to look at the screen for the directions.
Just don’t look at your phone!
Keep in mind, you aren’t the only one on the road. When you choose to look at your phone while driving, you’re putting others at risk. Be mindful of others, and yourself, and just don’t look at your phone. Pay attention to the road and be focused on getting to your destination safely!
AN EMPLOYER'S RESPONSIBILITY
On-the-job crashes can cost employers thousands in property damage and injuries. Despite employees’ dependence on their devices for conducting business, safety needs to come first.
Know the law
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports:
- Talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is banned in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
- The use of all cell phones by novice drivers is restricted in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
- Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Also, novice drivers are prohibited from texting in two states (Arizona and Missouri).
- Many localities have enacted their own bans on cell phones or text messaging.
Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees adhere to applicable federal agency regulations and federal, state and municipal laws. However, what is often not understood is that these regulations and laws are a minimum requirement and may not be enough to keep people safe.
Have a mobile policy
Employers are being held liable up to $25 million for employee crashes, even when employees use hands-free devices. The National Safety Council recommends cell phone policies that follow best safety practice, reduce significant risks and minimize liability. Policies should include:
- Handheld and hands-free devices
- All employees
- All company vehicles
- All company cell phone devices
- All work-related communications—even in a personal vehicle or on a personal cell phone.
Further, employers need to:
- Educate employees
- Monitor compliance
- Enforce the policy
- Address violations
Technology can help
In addition to the safety features now being included by vehicle manufacturers, employers can invest in in-vehicle monitoring technology. These systems are designed to give employers access to in-vehicle monitoring to help improve employees’ driving behaviors. Real-time monitoring of behaviors such as speed, hard braking and rapid acceleration is designed to provide consistent feedback to drivers without being distracting.
Employers with an organizational commitment to promoting safety will help protect employees and the company from the risks associated with technology and driving.