Reduce Distracted Driving in Your Organization

Think back to the last time you were driving and stopped at a red light. What did you see? A driver in the car next to you with his head bent down, fingers busily typing a message on his smartphone and hoping to hit send before the light turns green? Another driver unaware that she is taking up two lanes because she’s searching the internet on her phone? A pedestrian in the crosswalk with his head down, scrolling through social media posts? Distracted drivers and pedestrians have become an everyday sight.

But why might some drivers choose the distraction instead of focusing on driving? Some cite pressure from the boss or organization to be multi-tasking while driving. In any case, remember that it is illegal in Texas for a driver to be using their cellphone while driving. To evaluate your choices when driving, you might ask yourself, “Have I ever driven by Braille?” Ever heard the low roar of the rumble strips or lane divider reflectors as you drift out of your lane due to inattentive driving? Then you are driving by Braille. Designed as a method of alert for drowsy drivers, these are now more commonly associated with near-miss incidents while driving.

Sending messages can also be the trigger that results in a vehicle crash, so as “senders” we have a responsibility of thinking through the process and considering if sending a message might put someone in harm’s way. Most phone notifications are not time-sensitive. We need to understand our own behaviors, show more patience, and make the correct decision about our phone notifications.

When you’re not the driver and you’re sending messages or calling, ask yourself:

  • Is the receiver currently driving?
  • When I drive with them, do I often see them manipulating their phone?
  • As a manager, do I expect my employees to respond, even if the wheels are in motion?
  • Do I allow my staff to take conference calls when driving?
  • As a parent, do I expect my children to answer when driving?

When driving:

  • Finish that call and send that final text before you put the car in drive.
  • Enter the GPS destination before starting to drive.
  • Respond to your social media posts and select the music playlist before starting to drive.
  • Turn off phone notifications.
  • Drive with two hands on the steering wheel. If both hands are on the wheel, the phone is not in use.
  • At intersections, show patience; most traffic lights are 30-40 seconds.
  • Use self-control and don’t touch your phone at a red light. For complex conversations, pull over and park in a safe location prior to starting that phone call.
  • Train yourself to not react every time the phone receives a notification.
  • Keep your eyes on the road, your mind on driving, and your hands on the controls.

The mobile phone can be a powerful tool in communication for family and business. But, we are a stronger, smarter and safer driver when we are not controlled by the notifications, texts, and apps on our phones.

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