Most tend to think of distracted driving as a teen epidemic. But it’s not.

Workers are at risk equally as much as anyone else. And employers need to understand the impacts and potential OSHA regulations they must adhere to.

It happens when you’re commuting back and forth to work … getting behind the wheel to do an occasional work-related delivery … or driving might be your full time job. Distracted driving behaviors during work-related activities are more common than you may realize.

Distracted Driving Outcome

Even the most routine activities are potentially distracting while behind the wheel driving: talking to passengers, adjusting the controls, eating, using a cell phone, tending to children or passengers, reading a map, preparing for work, to name a few.

Work-related Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related injury deaths in the United States, accounting for 22,000 deaths from 2003–2014.

On-the-job vehicle crashes have a devastating impact on workers and their families, communities and businesses. In 2013 alone, motor vehicle crashes cost U.S. employers $25 billion—$671,000 per death and $65,000 per nonfatal injury. Workplace crashes affect businesses through lost productivity, medical and workers’ compensation costs, liability and reputational damage.

[Source: On-The-Job Vehicle Crashes Cost U.S. Employers $25 Billion Annually]

How did distracted driving become a work-related issue?

It’s not that it has recently become an issue; there have always been jobs where driving or traveling is a requirement. However, distracted driving has been brought to the forefront with the number of cell phone and texting–related accidents that occur during work-related driving.

Cell phones and texting are two of the most common driver distractions leading to car accidents. And texting is the one activity that takes your eyes, hands and mind off the road at the same time.

What industries are most affected by work-related accidents?

The most often-cited industries include:

  • Farmers and other agricultural-related workers
  • Delivery, sales and service personnel
  • Social service workers
  • Bus drivers, shuttle drivers, taxi drivers
  • Real estate agents
  • Police officers, fire fighters and other emergency responders
  • Long-haul transportation services
  • Construction and highway workers

Today, many states have enacted laws around texting and cell phone usage.

Do you know your state’s laws on distracted driving with regards to texting and cell phone use? If you live close to a state line you’ll want to know the laws for both states. For instance, the Kansas City Metropolitan area includes both Kansas and Missouri.

Distracted Driving Times

At 40 mph it takes only 2.9 seconds to travel the suggested safe distance of 4 car lengths (average of 1 car length for every 10 mph). The following are things that can take your eyes off the road for longer than that.

• Texting, 4.7 seconds
• Writing, 4.2 seconds
• Using calculator, 4.4 seconds
• Reading a map, 3.9 seconds
• Dialing a cell phone, 3.8 seconds
• Personal grooming, 3.7 seconds

[Source: Distracted Driving – a workplace epidemic }

Distracted Driving Resources

This blog, originally posted April 17, 2013, has been updated with additional sources and information.

photo credit: iBjorn via photopin cc
photo credit: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious via photopin cc

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