At the RIMS 2017 Annual Conference, Timothy McCarty, AVP Risk Control, Trident Public Risk, and Jennifer Stancil, Risk Management Specialist, New Hanover County, discuss distracted driving, how to understand the problem and its risk management implications.
We live in a society that we are very busy so we try to do everything in the car. So many distractions can occur while we are driving. This is very dangerous. There have been improvements over the past several years. These improvements include roundabouts and railing on the side of streets and highways. Fatals are still up 8% in 2015. This will continue to rise if we continue on the path we are on.
Over 6,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. Most people involved in an accident admit they were distracted so these numbers could be on the low end. Distractions are not always obvious like the phone and or music, sometimes people just do not see the red light or the other cars.
Study done by AAA polled drivers and discovered the following:
- 94% consider texting a very serious safety threat
- 87% feel cell phone use while driving causes distractions
- 88% feel drivers do not know how distracted they really are using their phone
- 88% feel distracted driving can lead to a crash
Many expressed the thought “I can drive safely – but others cannot.”
Three types of driving distractions are:
- Visual: eyes on the road
- Cognitive: Mind on driving
- Manual: Hands on the wheel
“To put it bluntly, research shows that we cannot multitask.” – John Medina
It is a common myth that we are able to do more than one thing at a time. There is no such thing as multi-tasking. We are actually just rapidly refocusing changing tasks each time. We are dropping information. You are not really paying attention to multiple things. For example talking on the phone while driving. A person cannot give 100% to the conversation and 100% attention to the drive.
Understanding the Distracted Driver
Common driver errors of a distracted driver include inattention blindness and slower response and reaction time. Inattention blindness is not seeing that red light, not seeing that other driver, not seeing that person riding the bike next to you. Slower reaction time is considered worse than drunk driving. Your brain cannot process everything going on at the same time.
Components of a Safety Campaign
A campaign contains leadership support. Make the leadership aware of this distracted driving and the monetary implications of distracted driving. Also suggest leadership creates a statement of support which is an internal statement of support to show their common items to reduce distracted driving.
A campaign must be a part of an overall fleet safety effort. This should include disciplinary actions and solutions for those actions. This fleet safety effort should include time for lunch and to make those important phone calls instead of talking on the phone while driving or eating in the car while driving.
A campaign should be implemented. This includes making sure the word is out regarding this campaign for safe driving. This also includes training and making sure everyone is educated about the approach every driver should be using. This training should start at the top and trickle down to the bottom.
There are some pitfalls with the implementation of a new safety campaign. There is not always support from upper management, employees understanding the significance of this distracted driving safety campaign, all supervisors might not be diligent about implementing this campaign and this is going to happen overnight. The company needs to be persistent and diligent about implementing this campaign. Hopefully this behavior will become routine overtime but will not happen overnight.
Distracted driving is a serious issue. Companies can learn to control this epidemic within your organization, beginning with a thorough understanding of the problem and its risk management implications. Explore strategies to avoid the pitfalls of driver distraction and put your municipality’s employees on the path to safer driving behaviors.