Thank you, Texas Department of Transportation, for this excellent headline and one more reason for this first blog topic. TxDOT’s highway alert signs were recently running this campaign. The second screen said:
TALK OR TEXT
I have thought about this problem since mid November, when I was privileged to be one of the judges for TEXO's (AGC and ABC North Texas Chapter) Twelfth Annual Construction Safety Excellence Awards. Local winning GC's and subcontractors moved on to the final competition at the AGC annual convention.
We judged entries from six companies, three GCs and three subcontractors. All have excellent safety programs, with strong safety cultures that do an excellent job of protecting their employees and the public.
During the judging I asked each company if they have a distracted driver program. Three companies do and their distracted driver programs do not allow texting or cell phone use in a moving vehicle.
If 50% of these proactive companies don't have a distracted driver program, lots of other companies probably don't either. If your company has a distracted driver program in place, congratulations! If you don't have a program, why not?
Did you know distracted driving is now a topic on OSHA's website? You can see it at http://osha.gov/. From there, go to the Top Links section at the left side of the page and click on the link for distracted driving. OSHA's brochure on the topic is at http://osha.gov/Publications/3416distracted-driving-flyer.pdf.
Did you know transportation accidents are the leading cause of worker fatalities?? And while you can control safety on your jobsite, you don't have any control over what other people do on the road.
Think of each of your company’s vehicles as a jobsite. You and your employees driving a vehicle (even their own vehicle) should not be using a phone for calls, texts, or any other distraction.
You can set up your company’s program now. It's easy with copies of the sample programs and announcement letters that you can find at http://www.distraction.gov/files/get-involved/Employer/DD_Employer_Policy_Contract_3.26.10.doc and http://www.distraction.gov/files/get-involved/Employer/DD_Employer_Policy_Memo.doc.
You can also join the National Safety Council, if you're not already a member, and get their Distracted Driving kit for free at http://shop.nsc.org/NSC-Cell-Phone-Policy-Kit-Downloadable-P2222.aspx .
So when you think a call is so important that you have to take it while you're driving, pull over to a safe spot. Remember, it's probably not that urgent. Building projects and running a business is not a reason to be driving distracted. Your employees, their families, your insurer, your bonding company, your family, and all the rest of us on the road, will greatly appreciate your company's new Distracted Driving Policy.
And all of us can sleep better knowing you’ve done the right thing.
P.S. #1. Since the safety awards judging last fall, I’ve wrestled with not using my phone while driving. It’s not easy. In late February, a fellow ran into my SUV and totaled it. He was at fault, but I had to buy another car. It has Bluetooth capability. I confess to trying it and I think I’m safer than when I used a headset before.
But I’ve also found I can let the call go to voice mail and no one cares. I changed my cell message to say "...if I don't answer it's because I’m in a meeting or driving and I’ll call back." It works! So far, no client complaints and no missed prospects!
P.S. #2. Caution: If you cause an accident because you were using your phone on the road you will lose sleep! Remember, it's called a mobile phone because you can take it with you. It doesn’t mean you have to use it when you’re driving!
P.S. #3. Articles are appearing more often about the problem. One you might want to read about New York’s new law about no calling is at http://www.programbusiness.com/News/Talking-on-Your-Cell-While-Driving-in-NY?--Thats-A-Two-Point-Violation-Now&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=DNF_List_021511&utm_campaign=DNF_Template_021511.