If you think mobile phone policies for drivers is a topic better suited for parents with teenagers than your organization’s workforce — whether you have a fleet or not — you might want to reconsider.
April is Distracted Driver Awareness month, and organizations like the National Safety Council and OSHA strongly encourage employers to combat unsafe driving habits among their workers, and here’s why:
For starters, traffic crashes in the United States cost employers $47.4 billion in direct cash-related expenses in 2013, according to the most up-to-date 2015 report from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. Those cash related expenses included medical care, liability, lost productivity and property damage.
Moreover, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of work-related deaths and account for 24 percent of all fatal occupational injuries, according to the National Safety Council’s 2015 report, Employer Liability and the Case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies.
The report explicitly discusses the role of mobile devices in distracted driving, which of course can lead to accidents. It calls upon employers to design mobile phone policies that follow best safety practices, reduce significant risks and minimize liability. It says policies should lay out how organizations are going to:
- Educate Employees
- Monitor Compliance
- Enforce the Policy
- Address Violations
Further, it says employers’ policies should be all-encompassing–addressing handheld and hands-free devices; all employees; all company vehicles; all company cell phone devices; and all work-related communications–even in a personal vehicle or on a personal cell phone.
It may sound like a tall order, but some employers are relying on their risk management information systems to help address the problem of unsafe driving practices.
For instance, companies that offer driver safety training to employees can track who has completed the training; trigger automatic reminders for employees to take a course if they have yet to do so; or automatically notify management if anyone is out of compliance.
In addition, if companies collect accident data using the automatic incident data collection capabilities within their risk management information systems, they can easily record the factors involved with an accident — including whether distracted driving or the use of mobile devices played a role. Such incidents can also be flagged, and the system will trigger automatic notifications to facilitate faster intervention and analysis to minimize future liabilities.
And finally, risk management information systems that take an integrative approach — allowing users to look across different types of risk data from one place — can actually marry the education tracking component with the incident management component.
As such, organizations to go as deep as analyzing whether a driver using a mobile device at the time of an accident has actually gone through the required training, or if the driver is a repeat offender. Companies can then measure whether their training is having a positive impact, or whether recourse for repeat offenders must ensue.
Distracted Driving Awareness month is a helpful reminder to not overlook risks we sometimes consider to be outside the parameters of our control. Consider taking time this month to review your organization’s policies regarding the use of mobile devices while driving on the job.