Driver Behavior Impacts Accident Management
Driver actions, from seatbelt use to talking or texting on cell phones, can significantly affect company accident rates.
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More than 90 people are killed in a work-related roadway crash each year, according to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS, www.trafficsafety.org). Research indicates driver distraction is a contributing factor in 25-50 percent of all crashes, causing an estimated 4,000 to 8,000 traffic crashes each day.
Driver distractions come in many forms, from talking or texting on a cell phone to reading (maps, directions, etc.), and directly impact fleet costs.
Cell Phone Use Impacts Accident Costs
Driver cell phone use has decreased slightly from 2006-2008; however, these accidents can cost companies big. In December 2007, International Paper Co. agreed to pay a $5.2 million settlement to a Georgia woman who was rear-ended by a company employee. The employee was driving a company car while talking on a company cell phone at the time of the accident.
According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association (www.state highwaysafety.org), current state cell phone driving laws include:
- Handheld Cell Phone Bans for All Drivers: California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington. The District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands also prohibit all drivers from talking on handheld cell phones while driving. With the exception of the State of Washington, these laws are all primary enforcement - an officer may ticket a driver for using a handheld cell phone while driving without a citation for another traffic offense.
- Text Messaging: 13 states and the District of Columbia now ban text messaging for all drivers.
Seat belt use at the time of a crash incident has increased slightly between 2006-2008. Mandating seat belt use is an inexpensive and effective way for employers to reduce occupational deaths and injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates using seat belts reduces the risk of death among front-seat occupants in passenger vehicles by about 45 percent; the risk reductions among occupants of pickup trucks are estimated at 60 to 65 percent.