If you haven’t been a distracted driver yourself, you’ve certainly seen distracted driving happen on the road.
Whether it’s eating a sandwich, fiddling with in-car entertainment, entering an address in a GPS, or reading a text (or even sending one) on your cell phone, it all falls under one category: dangerous distractions.
Distracted driving is one of Canada's leading causes of vehicle collisions. The Insurance Bureau of Canada reports that drivers are 3.6 times more likely to crash their vehicle if they’re using an electronic device while driving – and that it takes only three seconds after a driver’s attention has been diverted for a crash to occur. When you consider that a driver travelling at 90 km/h sending a text message is the same as crossing the length of a football field with their eyes closed, you can appreciate the potential for danger.
Although many people associate distracted driving with cell phones, there are lots of things in a vehicle that can draw a driver’s attention away from the road and cause safety risks, including:
- Eating or drinking
- Loud music
- Adjusting climate controls, seating
- Talking on the phone hands-free
Transport Canada data shows that distracted driving contributed to 21.7% of fatal vehicle collisions in 2019. And on the 2022 Canada Day long weekend alone, Ontario Provincial Police laid 167 distracted driving charges.
How does distracted driving affect fleet drivers?
Andrew Stacey is a national fleet safety loss control specialist for Aviva Risk Management Solutions. He visits commercial and business fleets across the country to help prevent road safety hazards including distracted driving. He likens distracted driving to driving under the influence, because of the safety risks distracted driving causes on the road.
“It alarms me that it is so easy to pick out a distracted driver no matter where I am in this country. I increasingly find myself at stoplights politely requesting distracted drivers to put down their phones for everyone’s safety. Unfortunately, we continue to have this type of conversation when we are all aware of the potential, yet completely avoidable danger,” he said.
When it comes to managing fleet drivers, Andrew notes that it’s imperative to impose a distracted driving policy to protect both business employees and other drivers on the road.
“I highly encourage you, as the employer, to provide training to all drivers, even the office worker who makes afternoon bank runs. We cannot assume that everyone is genuinely aware of the risks. There is a cost to risks and you have a legal and moral duty to figure the probability of that risk and how to mitigate it as best as possible.”
How to create a distracted driving policy for your fleet
Andrew advises all fleet managers to create a distracted driving policy and make road safety training mandatory for all employees, even those who aren’t on the road every day as part of their job.
“Your policies should also be underpinned by interactive training to support your safety culture and understand how to reduce this type of extreme exposure,” he said.
Safety policies to consider for distracted drivers
When creating your driver safety policy, here’s what to consider:
- Research your provincial regulations to ensure you have current, relevant data to inform your employees. If you’re a federally regulated carrier, you might have to study and understand multiple provinces or U.S. states.
- Create a policy that is reflective of your company’s existing safety culture. It’s helpful to ensure that it’s concise, urgent and easy to understand. The policy should describe and identify the safety concern, mitigate the problem and clearly explain the consequences for non-compliance with your policy.
- Share the policy with all employees, not just drivers. This should include senior management and company ownership. Ideas include:
- Post signage throughout the workplace
- Hold safety meetings
- Include the policy in the annual driver review process and all onboarding and remedial training programs
- Provide your fleet drivers with training sessions
- Monitor the policy and seek to update it annually or when there are legislative changes
Once the policy is created and shared with your employees, Andrew stresses the importance of taking measures to actively enforce it.
“As professionals, it is our responsibility not to aid those who choose to ignore the significant risk of distracted driving. There are drivers who, no matter how many times you warn them, will use their phone the minute they are out of sight, eat a burger holding fries between their legs while navigating city streets or talk with their phone to their lips,” he said.
“It’s critical to create a workplace culture that views any type of distracted driving as completely unacceptable. It may take time, but it is well worth the effort.”
Learn more about distracted driving
You can get information and tips for creating your policy from your insurance loss control specialist or broker. Feel free to reach out to Aviva’s Risk Management Solutions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Distracted driving resources
Looking for more information on distracted driving to help you create your own policy?
- Insurance Bureau of Canada #LikeLife – Distracted Driving
- Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators – Distracted Driving
- Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals – Distracted Driving