April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and a good time to remind everyone – whether they drive for their jobs or not – how important it is to keep all attention on the road ahead. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during any given daylight hour some 660,000 drivers across the U.S. are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving.
Distracted driving is defined as any activity that takes attention away from the primary task of driving. This may include:
Using a mobile phone
Eating or drinking
Talking to passengers
Reading, including maps
Using a navigation system
Adjusting the radio, CD or MP3 player
Watching a video
“Texting is considered the most dangerous distraction as it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention to complete,” explains Jason Solberg, manager, CHS Insurance Safety Resources Program. “People don’t realize that in the average five seconds that your eyes are off the road while texting, your vehicle, at 55 mph, could cover the length of one football field. And you’d be doing that essentially blindfolded.”
In recent years, many state and federal agencies have implemented bans on texting or the use of cell phones altogether when on the job, and private businesses have followed with similar restricted-use policies for employees. Some company policies extend to an employee’s use of cell phones or other devices while driving even outside of business hours or when operating their own vehicle.
Despite policies and laws, people still under-estimate the dangers of distracted driving. Employers can help by keeping awareness high and making safe driving everyone’s priority. A special website – distraction.gov –by the NHTSA and U.S. Department of Transportation is an information-rich resource with a special section just for employers here.
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