Smartphones, iPads and tablets are marvelous tools many of us need and use daily. We rely on them to communicate instantaneously whether it’s calling, texting or sharing documents, images and videos. They allow us to be more efficient and get more done with the time available to us.
However, when we misuse these conveniences in our cars and service vehicles, we greatly elevate the risks associated with distracted driving. Technology creates more and more ways to become distracted while driving. This is especially true for technicians who are on the clock while they are on the road.
This past February, a jury in Fulton County, Georgia, awarded a 15-year-old girl a $1.5 million settlement arising from injuries she sustained when the car she was in was rear-ended by a lawn care service truck.
The mishap occurred in 2007 when the technician driving the pickup truck failed to stop at a red light. The girl, 7 years old at the time, suffered a fractured skull even though she was secured in a car seat in the rear seat of the car. The investigation of the accident revealed the lawn care technician was texting at the time of the crash.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic singled out four unsafe driving habits responsible for significantly increasing the risk of crashes. Distracted driving was one of the four. When you couple distracted driving with any of the other three—drowsy driving, aggressive driving or speeding—you have a recipe for an accident. Speeding is involved in 31 percent of the nation’s fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
So, what to do?
Here are some tips provided by Safety Daily Advisor to slow down any service technicians you suspect have lead feet while driving company vehicles.
- Make employees pay their own speeding tickets. Believe it or not, workers do not assume this. Put it in writing.
- Employees must report any speeding tickets they get while on the clock to you. It will affect your insurance and your overall risk of a work-related crash.
- Request reports from your insurer. Speeding tickets should be reported to your insurer, but your insurer may or may not automatically report them to you. Ask for this information on a regular basis.
Obviously, every landscape and lawn service company should include safe driving as an important part of their employee training program. One of the cornerstones of safe driving instruction should be a no-excuses, no-texting-while-driving rule.
Richard “Dick” Bare, founder and owner of Arbor-Nomics offers several additional suggestions regarding the use of company vehicles by employees:
- Pay attention to how your employee partners drive. If they are prone to accidents, switch them over to your aerating and overseeing crew where they are not driving company trucks.
- Don’t let employees drive cars or trucks home.
- When you hire someone, thoroughly check out his or her driving record and do a background check through your local police department or a private company.
- People who are in frequent accidents tend to drive differently than good drivers. They are easily distracted, they are less aware of their surroundings, and they misjudge looming problems such as black ice, traffic issues, truck/car maintenance, etc.
- Have a good umbrella policy to make up for errors and omissions in your regular insurance.
- Have a good drug-testing program.
- Thoroughly check and maintain your entire fleet and all equipment to assure it is 100 percent safe to be on the road at all times. Bald tires will put you out of business.