Three key takeaways:
- Safety is the No. 1 concern around distracted driving, but there are other hidden costs for employees and employers
- Distractions can affect the off hours and even professional growth of workers
- A company’s efficiency, productivity, scheduling and image can all be affected by distracted driving
Road travel may not be inherently dangerous, but the risks skyrocket when drivers aren’t as attentive as they should be. The numbers make a serious case:
- More than 46,000 people die in automobile accidents in the U.S. every year, and another 4.4 million are injured seriously enough to require medical attention
- A driver is 23 more times likely to be involved in a car crash when texting and driving
- One national survey found that 94 percent of crashes in the U.S. were driver-related, and among those, 41 percent could be attributed to recognition errors – including driver inattention, internal and external distractions
Reducing risk, protecting employees and keeping roadways safe should be motivation enough for companies to take measures to reduce driving distractions, and the direct business implications are an additional incentive. But those aren’t the only reasons organizations should care about distracted driving.
Why It Should Matter to Employees
While safety is rightfully considered to be the biggest concern stemming from distracted driving habits, a host of other non-life-threatening issues can negatively affect not only a business, but also the lives and livelihoods of workers.
Have you ever passed your exit because you were so caught up in listening to a song or a book? Missed a turn when you were deep in thought or conversation? It happens to all of us from time to time, but it can have a cascade effect when someone is on the job. Broadly speaking, distracted driving can impact an employee’s work efficiency and productivity.
If that sounds like just an employer problem, think again. From a worker’s perspective, any road distractions that lead to delays or detours can drag out the workday and potentially eat into off hours and time spent with family, friends and relaxing. Additionally, those distraction-induced slips can prevent an employee from delivering their best work, which could hinder professional growth.
Hidden Costs for Employers
The top concerns around distracted driving for companies are well established. But here are a few that may get overlooked:
Impact on timelines. If most of an employee’s responsibilities center around driving, it’s likely that they engage in work across multiple locations in a given day. That means timing is paramount to getting the job done. Missing a turn or getting pulled over for absent-mindedly speeding could cause a worker to arrive late – for their shift, a delivery or nearly any job-related task – and create a domino effect down the line. Even on location, between rides, habits such as social media use could send a worker down a rabbit hole that delays service.
Impact on efficiency. Some jobs require a certain amount of on-the-go planning, preparation and mental focus. If a worker’s attention is occupied by driving distractions (audio books, social media, etc.), they may find they have less time and mental acuity to devote to those aspects of the job. Think of a project manager who drives from job site to job site and needs to juggle a variety of issues in real time – the materials they need to order, the prep work necessary for the next phase of the project, notifying clients of updated timelines. The ability to think through these tasks en route and be ready to close out jobs quickly, rather than being distracted with incoming messages, alerts or even social media while driving, builds flexibility and efficiency into the workday.
Reputational risk. If a distracted driver makes enough mistakes – or perhaps one big one – there’s a risk they could lose their license. This creates a variety of problems for the employer (not to mention the worker), one of which is how driver performance reflects on the company’s hiring habits. Even something as seemingly innocuous as the interruption of traffic flow could lead to negative attention for an organization if a distracted driver is recognized in a company-branded vehicle.
Safety risk is the most significant consideration of distracted driving, but it’s only one concern for any business that employs drivers. An organization’s efficiency, productivity, timing and image can suffer as a result of distracted driving. To both protect employees and preserve a company’s professionalism, it’s important to acknowledge and reduce all forms of distractions on the road.