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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Distracted driving

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Whether it’s on the way to-, from-, or for the purpose of work, reaching the destination safely involves the driver being focused on the task at hand: driving.

Over the past decade or so, distracted driving has emerged as a major public safety concern – as well it should. Distracted driving remains one of the main causes of transportation-related accidents. According to Distraction.gov, the federal government’s website on distracted driving, in 2013, 3,154 people in the U.S. were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. That’s a 6.7% decrease in the recorded number of fatalities from the previous year. However, approximately 3,000 more people were injured in 2013 compared to the 421,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, and the National Safety Council’s theme this year is “Take Back Your Drive.” One estimate by the NSC puts the number of crashes caused by cell phone use and texting while driving at 1.6 million each year. It’s easy to blame the devices themselves, but a growing body of research suggests that they are part of larger picture, one in which they are just another set of contributors to a state of mental distraction.

A newly published study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute seems to support this.1 In looking into which type of activity puts a driver at greater risk of being involved in a vehicle crash – a state of emotional agitation or performing activities such as using a hand-held cell phone – emotional agitation came out on top, researchers found. A person who is observably angry, sad, crying or emotionally agitated is almost 10 times more likely to experience a crash. The risk of a crash more than doubles when drivers perform activities that require them to take their eyes off the road, including reading emails or texts, or using a vehicle’s built-in touch screen.

Other research suggests that it isn’t the physical activity of operating a device (or devices) while driving that is the major cause for concern; rather, as some studies involving the use of hands-free cell phone use have shown, cognitive distraction caused by switching between language comprehension and processing the external cues needed to drive properly may be partly to blame.

It’s something to ponder – just maybe not when you’re behind the wheel.
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1. http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2016/02/022316-vtti-researchdistraction.html

Tagged in: Distracted driving

Posted by on in Uncategorized
Driving to...Distractions

When we think of safety at work, it’s important to consider that for many employees on their way to, from, or for work, safety centers around staying focused on driving. Yet distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of transportation-related accidents.

According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012, 3,328 people in the United States were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,360 in 2011. Another 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, a 9 percent increase from the 387,000 people injured in 2011.

Each April, the National Safety Council – a nonprofit organization chartered by Congress – promotes Distracted Driving Awareness Month and encourages motorists to drive cell phone free. The NSC maintains that one concern contributing is the amount of communication devices built into some of today’s vehicles as well as those brought along for the ride. It isn’t the devices that are the problem, the NSC says: It’s the state of mental distraction to which they can contribute.

Distracted driving can come in a variety of forms and arise from a variety of causes, from eating or drinking to adjusting a radio or media player to reaching for an object. But perhaps the distraction most closely linked with the use of technology is the use of cell phones, particularly to send and receive text messages.

A popular notion is that cell phone improves productivity at work by cutting down on the “down time” experienced on the road. Yet, a 2009 survey of NSC members showed that 99 percent of companies with policies that prohibit the use of cell phones and messaging devices while driving saw no decreases in productivity – with some experiencing an increase in productivity – after the policies took effect.

Curiously, according to another poll conducted by the NSC, 53 percent of respondents indicated they believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into cars and trucks. The poll also found that 80 percent of respondents believe hands-free cell phones are safer to use while driving than hand-held models. Also, of the respondents who indicated that they using hands-free devices while driving, 70 percent indicated they do so for safety reasons.

The NSC recommends that companies ban all types of cell phone use while driving, including texting, hand-held conversations and hands-free conversations. All-out bans concerning cell phones continue to be a thorny subject, however. Something that might help to sell the concept to the private sector ahead of government is the issue of liability. For example, when an employee is injured off-site while using a cell phone for company business, does the incident trigger workers’ compensation coverage? If so, it will likely raise workers’ compensation rates – and insurance companies will likely offer strong defenses against such claims.

It’s all something to think about – just maybe not while driving.

 

Tagged in: Distracted driving NSC

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