Fighting distracted driving – compliance and safety tips
Every day, millions of drivers hit the roads for both business and pleasure with the ultimate goal of arriving safely at their intended destinations. While the majority of drivers do arrive safely, there is an alarming number that don't.
Worse yet, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that number has been steadily increasing over the past several years. Unfortunately, vehicle fleets are not immune to these troubling statistics.
In fact, with respect to vehicle fleets, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has discovered that approximately 20 percent of fleet vehicles are involved in collisions every year. Such collisions result in a per incident average of $6,000 in property damage, a net downtime of 10.5 days for the impacted vehicles, and an untold impact on employee lives.
Many of these collisions are the result of distracted driving and are therefore avoidable. According to NHTSA, distracted driving accounted for 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries in the United States in 2015.
To combat the distracted driving epidemic, states are taking action by implementing distracted driving laws. While these laws will not eliminate distracted driving, they are appropriate and necessary to help reduce the number of preventable accidents on the road today. Forty-eight states currently have some form of distracted driving law in place and enforcement is on the rise. But for these laws to be effective, drivers must be educated on the laws and must actively practice safe driving habits.
For example, Georgia is implementing a new hands-free law that will take effect on July 1, 2018. This law establishes specific requirements for drivers regarding cell phone usage while operating a vehicle. These requirements include:
- Drivers will no longer be permitted to have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support a phone while operating a vehicle.
- Drivers may only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using a speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone or electronic watch. Drivers may touch their cell phone to dial a number or receive or end a call, but cannot hold or support the phone after touching it.
- A driver may not send or read any emails, text messages, social media or other internet content while operating a vehicle (including while stopped at a stop light). Text messages can, however, be sent or received using voice technology.
There are exceptions to the hands-free law in cases of a traffic crash, medical emergency, fire, criminal activity, or hazardous road conditions. The Georgia Department of Public Safety and law enforcement will begin enforcing the law and issuing violations on July 1, 2018 with no grace period. Penalties for an offense include monetary fines and points on drivers' licenses.
To help Georgia drivers prepare for the new law, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety in Georgia has put together a brief description of the law and frequently asked questions . We've also created a tip sheet summarizing the law for you and your drivers that you can download today.
At LeasePlan, driver safety is always our top priority. Thus want to ensure our clients and their drivers are aware of the laws impacting driver safety and the steps that can be taken to promote a safe driving environment. Complying with "hands-free" and other distracted driving laws is a critical step in promoting a safe driving environment.
However, compliance is only one step in the journey. Even more important is for drivers to continually practice safe driving habits each time they get behind the wheel to ensure the safety of themselves and other drivers. We stand behind the importance of practicing such habits and have recently partnered with eDriving to provide safety management services to help your fleet on its journey to a collision-free environment.
So, no matter your destination, take steps to ensure you and your fleet arrive safely. For more details on distracted driving and how to achieve a collision-free culture, view our dedicated distracted driving resource page for additional information, tip sheets and content for your fleet or contact us today.