Imagine this scenario – you are driving in a nearby neighborhood to make a delivery when you see a driver veering into your lane of travel or driving erratically. What’s up? You say to yourself, “I better stay clear of that driver!” In many cases, that driver may be experiencing distracted driving in one form or another, and your best defense is to stay clear of that driver. But what if you are that driver and others are trying to stay clear of you?
According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), driver inattention is one major contributor to vehicle crashes. Over 31% of police-reported crashes involve some type of driver inattention. That is more than 1.7 million collisions per year or over 4,600 per day!
For a young inexperienced driver or an older experienced driver, distractions are very common. The age of technology and especially smartphones is a major cause. The common distractions of the past are still present, like the radio, eating, drinking, smoking, etc., but they are now compounded by e-mails, phone calls, and music media. Yes, distracted driving is an epidemic in America. New research suggests that some type of distraction is present during 52% of normal driving.
Do you consider yourself a distracted driver? What can you do to protect yourself from being distracted? First, let’s focus on what distracts us.
Three main types of distractions
There are three main types of distractions that divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road.
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
As a delivery driver, you are searching for the next destination. These may be in unfamiliar areas, confusing neighborhoods, and/or at night. GPS aids in the delivery process, but also distracts, like cell phones and tablets. You take your hands off the wheel and your mind off the road. So, what do you do to help prevent distractions?
The top 10 driver distractions and ways to prevent accidents:
- Cell Phones – Texting, checking e-mails, talking. Don’t do these while driving. Pull over or wait until you reach your destination.
- Watching videos or using social media. Don’t do this either!
- GPS – Use a firmly-mounted device not requiring you to take your eyes off the road.
- Adjusting the radio or other musical devices like iPods. Have these tuned and adjusted before you leave. Wearing earphones is against company policies. You cannot often hear emergency vehicles, and it interferes with your focus on driving.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while driving.
- Do not be distracted or carry on a conversation with passengers. Passengers are not allowed in your vehicle unless they are a manager or another employee in training approved by your manager.
- When driving in unfamiliar areas, take time to plan the routes of travel before you leave.
- Personal grooming – Do this in advance of your work shift.
- Do not read maps or other material while driving. Pull over in a safe area to do this.
- Other distractions – Don’t reach down behind the seat, on the floor, open various compartments in the vehicle, or attempt to clean windows (moisture) inside the vehicle while driving. Get organized prior to your deliveries and secure all food items and other items before leaving.
What are the consequences of distracted driving?
- Collisions with other vehicles, property damage, and – at worst – hitting and injuring or killing persons in other vehicles or pedestrians.
- Huge fines and increased insurance costs.
- Violations and potential loss of license.
- Loss of job.
- Potential litigation (being sued) by third parties.
It seems most drivers do not think they will be involved in a serious accident. In 2015, 3,415 people were killed and an estimated 467,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. This means more than 9 drivers per day were killed and more than 1,280 injured.
Is it really worth risking your life and the lives of others by being distracted? Think really hard about it and plan your deliveries in a way that minimizes risk first, then provides customer satisfaction by getting a quality product delivered safely with a smile!
You have responsibilities as a delivery driver to protect yourself, the general public, and your fellow employees by not engaging in distracting behavior while driving.