I don't work at a 911 center. I don't drive an ambulance. I'm not an EMT, firefighter or police officer. Nobody calls me on my cell phone when they're bleeding heavily, having a heart attack or just got shot. So, if I'm driving, I really don't have an urgent reason to answer my cell phone. Do you?
I don't need to use my cell phone when I’m driving. But it’s a tough habit to break. Besides the logic of not doing it, now we have another couple of reasons.
First, the National Safety Council (NSC) started its Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. This is another attempt to get people to pay attention to the fact that using a cell phone for ANY purpose while you’re driving your car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or anything else is positively dangerous for you and anyone around you.
Second, if you own a company and you haven’t yet paid attention to the rapidly growing legal ramifications of not having a companywide program to prohibit cell phone use when driving on company business, it’s time to listen.
So what does this have to do with insurance, bonding or losing sleep? It ought to be pretty obvious what your insurance carrier will think about a serious accident involving distracted driving while you or your employees are on company business.
Your bonding company wants to know you’re running your business so you’re doing all you can to keep from going OUT of business. There are lots of ways that can happen and bonding companies have had to pay for all of them. There’s now a new reason on the list.
You should start learning more about the NSC’s full Distracted Driving Awareness program, including how to set up your company’s policy, enforce it and all the logic on why it makes excellent business sense, at NSC’s website, http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/.
For those hardheaded readers who think they’re brilliant or athletic enough that they can handle driving and cell chat, the lessons described in the NSC White Paper, published in March 2010 (this isn’t NEW news!), included the following:
The white paper includes references to more than 30 scientific studies and reports, describing how using a cell phone, hands-free or handheld (my emphasis), requires the brain to multitask – a process it cannot do safely while driving. Cell phone use while driving not only impairs driving performance, but it also weakens the brain’s ability to capture driving cues. The white paper is available for free download on the NSC Website.
If you don’t have a company policy in place, and enforced, you have an exposure that could cost you big bucks. NSC’s information on how to set up a program is at http://shop.nsc.org/eProducts-Cell-Phone-Policy-Download-P252.aspx. And it’s free!
Last thing to consider is the Pledge. Read it and decide if you can do it. If you can’t, think hard why not and how important your phone calls are. Is anyone calling you while they’re bleeding? Probably not. I took it (and no calls since). Will you?
Finally, if you or someone in your company causes an injury accident while using a cell phone, I can guarantee you will lose sleep, and likely for many nights. Sleep’s valuable, like time and life. Don’t lose any of them because of a phone call that can wait until you aren’t driving.