Image courtesy of National Safety Council.
A March 29 collision in rural Texas claimed the lives of 13 people traveling in a minibus — all members of First Baptist Church of New Braunfels — and provided yet another tragic reminder of the dangers of texting while driving.
Jody Kuchler, who witnessed the crash 75 miles west of San Antonio, told the San Antonio Express-News that the driver of the pickup truck that struck the minibus admitted he had been texting at the time. Moments before the crash, Kuchler and his girlfriend, who were driving home, noticed the pickup truck’s erratic movement on the road. They contacted local police, but officers didn’t arrive at the scene until it was too late. The truck collided with the minibus after crossing the centerline.
Texas doesn’t have a statewide driver texting ban in place, though legislation is pending.
The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the organization advises all employers to have a driver phone ban for all workers. NSC has materials to help companies and agencies conduct their own anti-distracted driving campaigns. To download campaign materials, click here. To download the National Safety Council’s cell phone policy kit, click here. To view an NSC video about the need for employee driver phone bans, click on the link or image below the headline.
Below is advice from AAA to help drivers prevent distracted driving. You may want to pass these tips along to fleet drivers as a friendly reminder.
- Fully focus on driving. Do not let anything divert your attention. Actively scan the road, use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Store loose gear, possessions and other objects that could roll around in the car, so you do not feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat.
- Make adjustments before you begin your trip. Address vehicle systems like your GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.
- Finish dressing and personal grooming at home — before you get on the road.
- Snack smart. If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. On the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
- Secure children and pets before getting underway. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
- Put aside your electronic distractions. Don’t use cell phones while driving — handheld or hands-free — except in absolute emergencies. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the Internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.
- If you have passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.
- If another activity demands your attention, instead of trying to attempt it while driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place. To avoid temptation, power down or stow devices before heading out. Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection, because potentially dangerous distractions can last longer than most drivers expect.
- As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel.