Everyone understands the risks and costs typically associated with distracted driving, but what many businesses fail to realize is how devastating the consequences of distracted driving incidents can be for their bottom line. If your business manages a fleet, even a single instance of distracted driving can put your operation–and your employees–at risk.
What Qualifies as a Distraction?
The CDC has identified three types of driver distractions–visual, manual, and cognitive. A visual distraction involves a driver taking their eyes off the road, while a manual one involves a task which removes the driver’s hands from the wheel. A cognitive distraction is a bit more abstract and describes something which takes a driver’s mind off the road.
The costs associated with distracted driving are numerous and can add up quickly. These can include everything from traffic tickets to the cost of repairing vehicular damage sustained in an accident. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety administration has estimated the total yearly cost of distracted driving incidents to be $40 billion–a bill no business wants to contribute to.
For a business, the costs involved in a distracted driving incident caused by one of their drivers can extend far beyond what one would expect. These can include:
- Decreased productivity in the workplace
- Legal fees
- Liability payments
- Loss of client business
These costs are far from trivial, which is why it’s important for business leaders and fleet managers to emphasize safety training and invest in fleet monitoring solutions that will help them stay in constant contact with their drivers.
When your drivers are out on the road, they are surrounded by countless dangers, many of which are uncontrollable and unpredictable. These include–but are not limited to–reckless drivers, inclement weather, and drivers preoccupied with their cell phones. According to a survey conducted by the NHTSA, an estimated 660,000 drivers on American roads are engaged in the use of a cell phone or other electronic device at any given moment. When one of your drivers is distracted by a cell phone or other device, the potential for accident and injury increases.
While it may be impossible to ensure your drivers’ safety 100% of the time, what you can do is make sure they have all the resources and education necessary to make informed decisions behind the wheel. By educating your drivers and other employees on the risks and consequences associated with distracted driving, you can make the first step toward minimizing the potential for incidents. Using a mobile workforce management system in conjunction with this allows you to monitor real-time driver behavior, like speeding and idle time, to improve safety and limit liability.
When a driver is texting, combing their hair, or trying to open a bag of chips when they should be focusing on the road, both their safety and the safety of other drivers is put at risk. Employee safety is a top concern of many business owners and fleet managers, which is why training, education, and mobile workforce monitoring are essential for the safety and success of any fleet.
Third-party claims in response to a distracted driving incident can present an abundance of legal issues and expenses which can jeopardize a business’ financial health. These often include fees for litigation and personal injury claims, in addition to the typical repair costs involved. While liability risks can be limited with regular safety training, it’s important to have a driver supervision system in place to minimize the potential for driver distraction in the first place. As far as limiting liability is concerned, in the context of fleet management, the best offense is a good defense.
Loss of Customer Trust
You work hard to earn and maintain your customers’ trust–unfortunately, much of that work will be undone very quickly if a serious traffic incident is caused by a distracted driver associated with your company. Not only does an incident demonstrate a lack of supervision and competence, it can act as a lightning rod for bad PR. Customers and clients may perceive a distracted driving incident as a sign that their products or services are not safe with your company, which could lead to a loss of both reputation and revenue.
Recovering from such an incident can be an uphill battle for any business–even more so if the incident was especially destructive or costly. Everyone–including your most loyal customers–can become wary after a wave of bad publicity, even if it only surrounds a single incident. Taking steps now to discourage employees from engaging in distractions while on the road can go a long way toward preserving your reputation and income down the line.
The potential costs and consequences associated with distracted driving are not something any business, no matter what size or industry, should have to deal with. The best way to avoid these is to ensure that your employees are not just well-trained and educated, but are held accountable for their actions behind the wheel.