November 2011
In This Issue:

Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving

Holiday Driving Hazards

Avoiding Re-entry Collisions

Safety Update: Latest Idling Regulations

Resource Library>>

Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving

The Problem

Four seconds. That’s the average time it takes a person to dial a phone number and press send. It can take even more time to type and send a text message. Four seconds may not seem long, but for drivers, every second their eyes are off the road is an opportunity for an accident to occur. In fact, driving at 55 mph, a vehicle will travel more than 322 feet in four seconds. While most people would never drive four seconds with their eyes closed, there is no difference between that and drivers taking their eyes off the road to dial a cell phone.

Your company can take action to increase driver safety and prevent accidents by understanding the various ways drivers can be distracted, creating policies to deter unsafe behaviors, and engaging your drivers through open discussions and training seminars.

At any given time, 11 percent of all drivers are on their cell phones, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The most dangerous behaviors are those that cause the driver to look away from the road or take their hands off the wheel. These distractions can include reaching for a cell phone, dialing a number, and reading or typing a text message. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that people who dial cell phones while driving are six times more likely and people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to have an accident. However, even the act of talking on the phone while driving is a distraction.

Drivers may not realize it, but the conversations they have mentally draw their attention away from what’s happening on the road, causing them to be less focused and aware. Studies conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC) and Carnegie Mellon University show that hands-free devices do not eliminate distracted driving. Contrary to popular belief, the brain does not actually have the ability to multitask, or focus on two tasks at once. Instead, the brain addresses tasks sequentially, switching from one to another. The time it takes to switch tasks could delay a driver’s recognition of a hazard by more than 1.75 seconds and their reaction time by even more.


Texting while driving is only banned in 34 states and the District of Columbia; however texting is banned in all states for truck and bus drivers. You can view the full list of state laws at www.distraction.gov, a website powered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). As a company, it can help to have a distracted driver policy in place to reinforce existing laws or fill the void of states that don’t yet have laws on this issue. The National Safety Council and www.distraction.gov offer free sample policies to download.

Developing a Policy for All Distractions

Before implementing a distracted driver policy, hold meetings with your drivers to get their input and involve them in the process. Have an open mind when listening to their concerns and work together to develop solutions. You should ensure that the policy affects all employees, not just the drivers. Talking on a cell phone while driving should not be permitted except to call 911 in case of an emergency.

Keep in mind that distracted driving is not limited to talking on the cell phone. There are thousands of reasons drivers’ minds, eyes and actions are taken off their driving. Many people may eat or drink non-alcoholic beverages while they drive. While eating or drinking, drivers may take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road. However, the biggest distraction occurs when drivers spill these items. Their focus shifts to cleaning themselves up or reacting to a hot fluid.

Once your company has a policy in place, schedule seminars for your drivers on the seriousness of distracted driving and how to avoid behaviors that increase their chances for an accident. Make your safety training more impactful by incorporating Faces of Distracted Driving videos. These videos include stories of people killed because of distracted driving.

Consider inviting drivers’ families to attend the seminar. Provide family members with a copy of the policy and tips on how to communicate more safely with drivers. For example, families can establish a system to distinguish between non-emergency calls, in which case they call once and leave a voicemail, versus emergency calls, in which case they call three times in a row. This can signal the driver to look for the nearest safe and legal place to park and return the call. Having family members involved will increase the chances of your drivers adhering to the distracted driver policy.

Baldwin & Lyons is offering free copies of the following posters while supplies last:

  • Warning: Distracted Drivers are Dangerous
  • Maintain a Safe Following Distance – Avoid Fatigue & Distractions

To order these posters, contact the Loss Prevention Resource Library at 317-636-9800 or email your request to thequill@baldwinandlyons.com. The Resource Library also offers several video training programs that inform drivers of possible distractions and how to avoid them.

Four seconds. That’s all it takes for one of your drivers to become distracted and end up in a collision because of a cell phone. Don’t waste time – take action to protect your employees and others on the road from the dangers of distracted driving.


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Baldwin & Lyons, Inc.
1099 North Meridian Street, Suite 700 | Indianapolis, IN 46204
(800) 644-5501 | Fax: (317) 632-9444