Anyone who has ever tried to drop a vice understands the incredible power of the habit. A habit is classically defined as a routine of behavior repeated regularly. It also tends to occur subconsciously. Think of the smoker you know or the nail-biter. Typically the behavior occurs and you won’t even notice it. As humans, we are very predictable with our behavior and research has shown that habits become routine and routines turn into behavior in a very regular pattern.
You likely can’t even recall the first time you heard the ping or buzz from your mobile device while you were driving. It seems implausible that you reflected back then how dangerous it is to operate a vehicle while communicating through a mobile device, be it an eMail, a text message, an App notification, Facebook update, or the like. Most people recognize that it isn’t safe, however the self-control required to not reach for the phone sitting on the seat next to you is quite extreme.
Health, safety and environmental professional think about the risk of this habit all the time. They realize that to reduce collision rates, lower company risk and reduce expense from these adverse incidents should be reason enough to break the bad habit of the worker. Being aware of the risks is not enough. The company needs to transition to taking action to curb or eliminate distracted driving behaviors. As a starting point on this path, the company needs to measure their collision rates and evaluate the sources. More needs to be understood and looking at the data helps. From there, the next step is typically to focus on training workers on defensive driving and even adopt stricter company policies.
The bad habit still often persists, especially when there is no mechanism to enforce the stricter policies. Even worse, we know from behavioral economics that people often will pursue outcomes that are actually not in their best interest. Consequences are often not enough of a motivator to change behaviors. The threat of loss of employment actually isn’t typically enough to break the bad habit of the workers. Rather than merely attempting to eliminate the bad habit of distracted driving, it is more productive to seek to replace it with a healthier coping mechanism. A change by adopting technology that will modify behavior and enforce the company policies.
The only real way to change behavior is to put in technology that can control the outcomes and eliminate distracted driving once and for all. Health and safety professionals that seek to end distracted driving should strive to achieve complete control over employee mobile device usage behind the wheel. Adopting a technology platform with software on the device, management software back in the office all brought together by innovating engineering will allow the health and safety professional the ability to enforce the policies and eliminate access to text, unwanted Apps, eMails and control phone call rights.
Ping – ring – bing! Is that the phone I hear on the car seat next to me?