Distracted driving has always been a problem. However, with the recent proliferation of cellphones, handheld devices and in-car electronics systems, instances of distracted-driving related traffic accidents are on the rise. Although much of the focus has been on individual drivers, the problem is hitting commercial fleets as well.
Since April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, this is an appropriate time to discuss the issue of distracted driving by drivers of commercial vehicles.
Recently, a new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration law came into effect that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. Hands-free devices are still allowed.
Many companies, however, have chosen to go farther. Some have prohibited drivers from using cellphones behind the wheel, even in their own vehicles. Others have gone so far as to ban the use of CB radios. While this means that drivers may be temporarily out of reach, the companies believe that the safety improvements are well worth it.
Most say that the most important thing is to make sure the policy is clear and uniformly enforced. Making safety a part of the company culture is a much more effective strategy than having a detailed rulebook that few actually read.
Indeed, companies have a vested interest in having their drivers be safe and effective at their jobs. Reducing accident rates and avoiding costly fines for traffic violations keeps insurance rates low and helps companies stay profitable.
Of course, more importantly, these polices help all drivers on the road by reducing the rates of dangerous trucking accidents and other commercial vehicle crashes.
Hopefully more companies will begin to implement similar measures to prevent distraction amongst their fleet drivers.
Source: USA Today, "Companies Weigh Risks of Distracted Driving," Larry Copeland, April 17, 2012.