Help your employees avoid distracted driving

Added March 30, 2023

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:

  • Nearly 600 nonoccupants such as pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in accidents involving distracted drivers.

  • Eight percent of fatal crashes, 14 percent of accident-related injuries, and 13 percent of all police-reported vehicle traffic crashes were the result of distracted driving.

  • 3,142 people were killed and an estimated 324,652 people were injured in vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Encourage defensive driving habits

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:

1. Prepare your route

Defensive driving begins before the truck starts moving. Review your route, schedule breaks, set your GPS, and organize paperwork.

2. Set voicemail and call forwarding

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.

3. Turn off your phone and securely store it

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.

4. Don't eat or drink while driving

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.

5. Avoid multitasking

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.

6. Stay engaged

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.

7. Look ahead

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.

8. Never drive while drowsy

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.

Training your drivers

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.

Use technology to help prevent distractions

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.

Protect your business

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:

  • Bodily injury

  • Medical expenses

  • Property damage

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist

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.

Learn more about why our specialized insurance makes the most sense for your bottom line. Request a quoteemail us, or give us a call at 800-541-5082 to speak with one of our representatives.

Related links:

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.

Driver using a GPS

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