Quite candidly, something we don’t talk about enough in the construction industry—or any industry for that matter—is how to combat distracted driving. So many people are primarily concerned about what our teens are doing, but the fact of the matter is this epidemic is spreading fast and furious across all areas, and it is something construction companies need to be aware of among drivers and develop strategies to combat. (Although our own Peggy Smedley makes an effort every April to tackle the crises on her podcast in the hopes of raising greatest awareness).

The facts are scary. Every day, at least nine Americas die in distracted-driving crashes. Here’s where it gets interesting. In commercial vehicle fleets, distraction (related to cellphone use, eating, or general inattention) is the second leading driver-related cause of fatal truck crashes.

Lytx recently completed a survey that digs into risky driving among commercial vehicles. Here’s what it finds. Risky behaviors behind the wheel tend to cluster, meaning drivers who engage in one potentially risky behavior are often found engaging in other risky behaviors at the same time. For example, drivers who eat while driving also tend to drive unbelted or follow the vehicle in front of them too closely. The scary fact is it found that 23% of all its scored events included a driver engaging in multiple risky behaviors.

While the amount of hands-free use has gone up significantly (from 27% in 2016 to 65% in 2018), it still found a 13% increase in the overall volume of risky driving behavior involving handheld cellphones during the same timeframe. Further, there was a 10% increase in the overall volume of events in which drivers using hands-free devices engaged in one or more other potentially risky distractions as well.

Stay with me for a minute because this is where the numbers get really frightening. A multi-tasking driver engaged in multiple potentially risky distracting behaviors has a 100% increase in risk over a driver engaged in one potentially risky, distracting behavior. Also, driver cellphone use occurs most frequently at 65 miles per hour.

It is important to recognize the reality—and risk—of driving distracted. Too often, we are starting to take it as a societal norm, but the reality is it increases risks of businesses—significantly.

Here’s what your company can do today to combat this:

  • Recognize the risk exists. Acknowledge it. Share the information with colleagues. Talk about it regularly.
  • Create training programs and educational sessions that help workers recognize the risks.
  • Leverage technology. It can actually be a tool to help here. Technology can help capture risky driving events, giving manager real information about what is happening behind the wheel, in order to help prevent it in the future.

Only by talking about it and taking the steps to address it will we begin to solve the distracted-driving epidemic among businesses. Safety is such a top priority, and this is one area that needs to be addressed in construction today and in the future.

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Laura Black
Laura Blackeditor