April Industry Highlight: Driver Safety
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2020. Distracted driving is an activity or object that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. This includes eating lunch on the way to the office or a jobsite, typing in the address for your next stop into the GPS, scrolling through your playlist looking for your favorite song, or texting and talking on the phone. When driving, 100% of your attention should be on the road and what is happening around you.
There are three types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive distractions.
We all know we shouldn’t text while driving, but there are other visual distractions like accidents or looking for street signs. It may be difficult but resist the urge to “rubber-neck” other vehicle accidents. Assume the other drivers are also distracted by the accident and be prepared to brake if the vehicles in front of you slow down. Have your navigation ready to go before you leave to avoid getting lost.
Manual distractions take the driver’s hands off the wheel. Eating is an example of multiple manual distractions, like unwrapping food, adding condiments, holding the food, using a napkin, all while operating a vehicle. Handle any calls, emails, meals, and music before leaving. Also, make sure everything in the vehicle is secured to avoid reaching for items.
Have you ever left work after a long day thinking about everything you need to do the next day, then arrive at home without remembering driving? Surprisingly, our thoughts are also distractions. Cognitive distractions take the driver’s mind off driving. Driving when fatigued is also a cognitive distraction because the brain is too tired to concentrate on driving.
Even if you aren’t the driver, you can do your part to protect yourself and others on the road by speaking up when in a car with a distracted driver. Ask the driver to pay attention to the road. You can also minimize distractions by helping the driver navigate.