Multi-tasking is a myth. The human brain cannot actually perform two functions at the same time.
Instead, it switches from one task to other very quickly. Even though the change may only take milliseconds, it takes the brain time to come up to speed on the new task.
What does this have to do with driving? It's simple. Trying to do more than one thing while behind the wheel of an automobile means you will perform neither very well. Even worse, it means that your reaction time in an emergency situation will be increased dramatically.
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Talking on a cell phone (hands-free or not) increases your risk of being in an accident by a factor of four.
Distracted driving is now the number-one cause of deaths on the job.
Every employer that has employees on the road should have a distracted-driving policy in place — and it should be understood and enforced.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management: “Organizations that fail to create and enforce policies prohibiting employees from using their phones while driving put workers in jeopardy and increase employer liability.”
Here are two key questions to help you create – and enforce – a policy within your company:
How does a distracted-driving policy help?
A distracted-driving policy is a part of both a company’s overall safety program and a part of its safe driving program. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), its purpose is threefold:
- To save lives and to reduce the risk of life-altering injuries within your workforce.
- To protect your organization’s human resources and financial assets.
- To guard against potential company and personal liabilities associated with crashes involving employees’ driving on company business.
What should a distracted-driving policy include?
Your distracted-driving policy should spell out in clear language what an employee is and is not allowed to do while operating a vehicle on company business. Whether they are in their personal vehicle or a company car doesn’t make a difference. If they are conducting business on behalf of your company, the company is liable. Your policy should also lay out specifically the disciplinary actions the employee could face for breaking the policy.
Your distracted-driving policy should exist in printed form. Each employee who might operate any vehicle while on company time should be required to read and sign that they received and understand the policy.
They should then be given a copy of the form to keep, with the original placed in their file.
The NSC has a general template available that can provide you with a starting point for formatting your policy. Some key factors to include are:
- Employees should not use mobile phones (hands-free or not) while operating a vehicle.
- Employees should not initiate or respond to calls, texts or emails while driving.
- Employees should find a safe place to park the vehicle before initiating or responding to any calls, texts or emails.
Protect yourself and those who work for you. Take distracted driving seriously. Develop a solid distracted-driving policy and enforce it.
If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to contact Heather Duffy at (732) 256-3420.
20 Commerce Drive Suite 303
Cranford NJ 07016