Employer Accountability and Distracted Driving

June 21, 2022 | Blog

Top three takeaways:

  • While both employers and employees know the danger of distracted driving and the importance of reducing it, addressing the issue starts with employers setting the example.
  • But, across many businesses, there’s a key disconnect. Employees are often left to hold themselves accountable for compliance with their company’s distracted driving and mobile use policies.
  • Technologically advanced products such as TRUCE CMM can enforce mobile device policies, create safe driving habits and reduce distracted driving risks. 

Every year in the United States, more than 32,000 people are killed and 2 million injured in auto crashes. Among them, a significant number of lives – 3,142 in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – are claimed by distracted driving. Although eating, drinking, and other diversions fall under the category of distractions, smartphones and similar devices play a significant role in this case.

In an effort to learn more about the problem, TRUCE surveyed 1,500 adults to ask about their work-related mobile usage. The results were eye-opening: 72 percent of respondents whose job involves at least some driving feel pressure to use their mobile devices to communicate with their employers while behind the wheel. Employers and employees know the danger of distracted driving and the importance of reducing it. But addressing the issue starts with employers setting the example, then requires an inward-out approach to minimize this dangerous phenomenon.

Beyond the safety issues inherent to distracted driving, an employee using a mobile device while driving can result in high costs to a business. An on-the-job accident can mean legal liability resulting in substantial monetary losses for an organization. Distracted driving incidents also lead to a decline in productivity (and further financial loss). Conversely, even a 15 percent reduction in accidents leads to productivity gains, as well as significant overall cost reductions.

Distracted driving policies are important for protecting businesses and equipment and establishing a framework for how employees should behave and interact with their mobile devices. But across many companies, there’s a key disconnect. Employees are left to hold themselves accountable for compliance.

“What we’re seeing here,” said TRUCE CEO Joe Boyle, “is that businesses are depending on employees to police themselves on safe mobile devices.”

Our survey results point to a specific area that has the most potential to reduce distracted driving on the job: employer accountability. Managers and employers must “walk the walk” by prioritizing their employees’ safety and well-being. For example, if employees aren’t permitted to communicate while driving per the company’s mobile device policy, employers should refrain from contacting them when they’re on the road. If a company expects its workers to adhere to its mobile device policy, employees should not feel pressured by their employers to break it.

The issue applies even to workers who don’t spend the majority of their time behind the wheel. Mobile devices are essential for many deskless employees whose tasks are met primarily in the field. Sixty-five percent of our survey’s respondents indicated that their mobile device usage extends beyond email and texting – including many work-related tasks. Yet sometimes, the problem can also be part of the solution.

TRUCE’s contextual mobility management (CMM), for example, helps reduce the incidence of mobile device distractions. When CMM is in use, social media, gaming, and similar non-essential apps can be temporarily suppressed for as long as an employee is working in a high-risk environment. Even incoming calls or texts can be diverted when the tech senses that the employee is on the road, pushing calls to hands-free speakers if policy allows and sending automated response messages to incoming texts while suppressing alerts for both.

Employers and supervisors must set the example – walk the walk – and prioritize employee safety first. Technologically advanced products such as TRUCE CMM can enforce mobile device policies, create safe driving habits and reduce distracted driving risks. In any case, it’s essential that employees on the road are given the space to remain focused while driving, allowing them to respond to calls, texts and emails only when it is safe to do so.

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