Monday, October 3, Drive Safely Work Week began, sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.  Many employers that are members of NETS are owners of large fleets that travel our roads day and night.  The “driving” factor of the message they want to get out is that safety relies on drivers, as well as passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians, who all play an important part in preventing distracted driving.  In partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, NETS wishes to address the safety of all employees, not just those who drive as part of their job.  It is hoped to reach one-half of our nation’s population with this important message. 

Of the almost 5,000 organizations that participated in the 2010 campaign, it has been reported that 88 per cent of the businesses already had or will have a mobile device policy in place this year.  This shows the desire of businesses to not only reach their employees, but families and the communities they serve.  October 1st, Nevada became the 9th state to ban handheld cell phones while driving. 

NETS Drive Safely Work Week has a Toolkit that can educate employees on how to prevent distracted driving  – how it affects both those in a vehicle and those sharing the road.  You may download it from their website.  This Toolkit will benefit:

  • Those who have a workplace policy by getting tips and activities to reinforce and sustain their policies.
  • Those who have yet to establish a policy will find plenty of resources.
  • Those who aren’t interested in adopting a corporate policy but want to educate their employees can find materials on ending distracted driving. 

Most of us believe that cell phones – conversations and texting – are the main culprits in distracted driving.  Studies show that even talking on a “hands free” cell phone still involves concentration and attention to the conversation at hand, often at the expense of the driving task.  However, every driver may or may not let outside influences affect their driving.  Many drivers become distracted in heavy traffic while: applying makeup; reading; listening to loud music or becoming too engaged in conversation.  Cyclists and other drivers, as well as pedestrians must know what part of the road is their territory, and not infringe on other drivers.  

It is our responsibility to be safe drivers, regardless of whether we are going to and from work, or elsewhere.  Always drive defensively; many times it is the other guy that causes an accident.  Here are a few tips for avoiding distractions:

  1. Concentrate on the driving task; this demands our full attention.
  2. Don’t be distracted by things outside your vehicle.
  3. Eliminate distractions inside the car.  Eat and drink, and pre-set your radio station or CD before you start the car.
  4. Again, avoid using your cell phone while driving.  Pull over if you need to answer a call, or better yet, check the message later.  Put your phone on “silent”, so you aren’t tempted to answer it. 
  5. Don’t let the GPS or other navigation devices take your eyes off the road. 

So, let’s start this month off by driving a little safer than usual.  The reward could be your safety and/or that of others.