Distracted driving continues to be a significant safety concern, with tens of thousands of lives lost each year due to driver negligence. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 46,000 people lost their lives in preventable traffic crashes in 2022. Despite this, many drivers, whether behind the wheel of a commercial truck or personal vehicle, continue to engage in behavior that takes their focus away from driving. While phone usage remains a top concern, any visual, manual, or cognitive distraction can lead to an accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving has become a leading cause of vehicle crashes in the U.S. Statistics support a continuing rise in preventable fatalities. In 2021, the NHTSA estimated nearly 43,000 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, a 10.5 percent increase from the 38,824 fatalities reported in 2020. Also of note:
As a horticultural business owner, it's essential to keep safety at the forefront and encourage defensive driving habits among your employees. To help you protect your drivers, your bottom line, and others on the road, we've compiled eight strategies for your drivers to follow:
Defensive driving begins before the truck starts moving. Review your route, schedule breaks, set your GPS, and organize paperwork.
In early 2020, the National Safety Council said cellphones were involved in more than a quarter of crashes. Create a voicemail that alerts callers you’re unavailable while driving. Automatically forward calls to your manager or a designated employee to manage while you’re en route.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), when you take your eyes off the road to use your phone, it can take up to 27 seconds for your eyes to reorient to the road and for the mental distraction to end.
Eating while driving can be surprisingly dangerous, as it can be messy and take your attention away from the road. Schedule your food breaks around truck stops or travel center locations. If necessary, pull off the road to a rest stop to eat.
If you’re fiddling with the radio or reaching for items while driving, you’re not focused on the road. A recent study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 80 percent of distraction-related crashes involved a driver whose attention wandered three seconds before the accident happened.
Minds can wander, especially if the road is monotonous. Stay focused by actively observing other drivers. Try to recognize their driving patterns and predict their next moves.
Watch for upcoming onramps and intersections where other drivers may suddenly enter the highway. Give enough room between vehicles to maneuver if another driver suddenly brakes or swerves into your lane.
Drowsy driving is a factor in more than 100,000 crashes each year, according to the NHTSA. If you’re feeling weary, immediately pull off the road and find a safe place to rest.
Fleet managers or safety supervisors can implement a driver coaching and training program specifically focused on distracted driving. An in-house program can help your drivers identify and actively address dangerous behaviors and help you avoid costly repercussions.
You can use your fleet management and telematics data to personalize driver coaching and correct distracted driving issues in real-time. Your training program could cover risky behaviors like behind-the-wheel phone use and driving while fatigued, distractions that can cause unsafe lane departure, and aggressive behaviors like following too closely and speeding. Real-life examples and video stories to highlight the dangers of distracted driving can be valuable supplemental training tools.
To help your drivers keep their training top-of-mind, develop a distracted driving prevention policy that requires drivers to be retrained annually, and have them sign their commitment to safe driving practices.
Most people know distracted driving is bad, but they do it anyway. With preventable highway fatalities on the rise, adapting new technologies into vehicles used for work can be beneficial.
Many horticultural businesses are proactive in using new technology options to help lower their risks of driver accidents. Depending on the age of the vehicle, some fleets, delivery trucks, and personal vehicles have driver monitoring systems and collision-avoidance programs already installed by the manufacturer. To address cellphone activity while driving, using an anti-distraction app that disables a driver’s smartphone when the vehicle crosses pre-set limits is becoming a popular safety requirement.
As technology continues to advance, it’s essential to stay up to date with the latest safety features and incorporate them into your driver management practices where applicable.
Accidents caused by distracted driving can impact your business on many levels—from increased driver injuries and decreased productivity to expensive repairs and higher auto insurance premiums.
If an accident happens, commercial auto insurance coverage can help protect your business, covering any vehicles you own, rent, or lease. It also provides protection if you or your employees drive privately owned vehicles for business purposes or drive company cars for business and personal purposes. Coverages include:
We’ll work with you to help you determine the coverages best suited for your horticultural operation. Our agents are dedicated solely to supporting and protecting horticultural businesses.
Is your business insurance policy coming up for renewal? Here’s a business insurance renewal checklist to help you prepare for a conversation with your insurer.
Not sure if your small shop needs commercial auto insurance? This guide can help you understand the value of commercial auto insurance for your horticultural business.
No matter what safety procedures you have in place, accidents can still happen. Umbrella insurance provides an extra layer of protection for your business.
Hortica® property and casualty coverages are underwritten, and loss control services are provided, by Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company, Florists’ Insurance Service, Inc., Edwardsville, IL, or affiliated members of the Sentry Insurance Group. For more information, visit hortica.com. Policies, coverages, benefits, and discounts are not available in all states. See policy for complete coverage details.
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