We understand that being responsible for a driver or fleet is serious business. Distracted driving in the United States has become an epidemic, with as many as one in three accidents caused or contributed to by distracted driving—resulting in over 3,400 fatalities in 2016 alone, according to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration.
Evidence shows that an increasing number of accident scenes are devoid of skid marks—a telltale sign that the driver was not even looking at the road at the time of the crash. Whether texting family members, looking at GPS displays, or fiddling with complex electronic dashboards, distracted drivers are increasing their accident risk drastically—not just for them, but for the drivers around them as well. Yet the distracted driving problem is not just caused by taking one’s eyes off the road. Accidents can just as easily be caused by removing one’s hands from the wheel—eating a sandwich, perhaps—or taking one’s focus off the road while in conversation with a passenger. The use of hands-free devices has proven to be just as distracting as handheld ones because the driver’s attention is still not focused on the road.
The year 2016 was the deadliest year on US roads in a decade, with over 40,000 fatalities and a whopping 4.6 million injuries. It’s no surprise that the cost of these accidents, injuries, fatalities, and property damage—albeit not all due to distracted driving—is increasing dramatically too, totaling an estimated $432 billion in 2016, up 12 percent from the prior year.
What can business owners do to help get this epidemic under control? The National Safety Council suggests a number of approaches to consider. Some companies have taken the bold step of banning both handheld and hands-free devices for any driver conducting company business. Others have instituted “driver safety pledges” or mandatory safe-driving courses in order to qualify for a driver position.
Despite all of these precautions, it is ultimately up to individual drivers to uphold the company’s policies when in the privacy of their own vehicles. Holding their job and preserving their own life and as well as the lives of others is certainly good motivation. As an employer, however, it’s critical to ensure that you have the right insurance to cover potential distracted driving infractions that result in injury, property damage, or loss of life to your employees or others.
Your insurance agent should be a valuable part of this conversation, analyzing your risk factors and making sure that you are properly covered—even as your circumstances change throughout the year. We have considerable experience in this area and can help you develop a customized strategy to help keep your drivers and others safe from the temptations of distracted driving. For more information about our offerings and to learn how to better protect yourself against these risks, contact us or visit our website!
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