Whether or not your company operates a fleet or employs professional drivers, distracted driving is a topic that should interest you. As SafeStart
explains, "Everyone drives or rides in a car. And that means distracted driving affects every single business in the world."
What do we mean by distracted driving? According to SafeStart, driving-related distraction can be organized in two groups:
- Conscious distraction: Decisions we make, like reaching for a cell phone or tuning the radio.
- Unintentional distraction: Mental lapses that nobody intends to make, such as falling asleep at the wheel or letting one's mind wander at a crucial moment.
What causes distracted driving? Primarily, visual, auditory, manual and cognitive factors are to blame. However, what makes people most vulnerable to these distractions when driving is our state of mind, SafeStart explains. For example:
- When we’re rushing, we’re more likely to think about why we’re in a rush than to concentrate on driving.
- When we’re frustrated, we’re more likely to get distracted by something we see.
- When we’re tired, we’re more likely to get distracted by something we hear.
How can OSH professionals educate their workers about these distractions and enhance their focus on safe driving? SafeStart recommends these five steps:
- Share the alarming stats, scope of the problem and root causes of distraction.
- Share a personal story about how distraction caused a close call so employees can see that even an OSH professional is susceptible to distraction-related risk.
- Ask workers to share a story about when they were driving and had a close call because they momentarily let their eyes or mind drift. This will remind them of how personally susceptible they are to distraction.
- Disrupt their complacency with the risk. This is especially necessary for activities where the risk and familiarity with the hazard are both high. Get workers to talk about how they would explain the danger level to someone else—such as their kids.
- Encourage workers to explain the distraction pattern in their own words. Quiz people on which state of mind (rushing, frustration, fatigue and complacency) or which source of distraction (visual, auditory, manual and cognitive) they think is most likely to cause them problems.
Originally published Jan. 9, 2017.