If you have company vehicles — whether they’re six semi-trailers or a hundred sprinters — you likely have a driver policy. This Driver Safety Policy Manual (PDF) is a good example. It covers driver’s license qualifications, emergency procedures, maintenance, and vehicle operation. Buried on page 25 are two sentences on distracted driving — “Distractions – Employees shall refrain from engaging in activities that may distract them from their primary task of safe driving while operating vehicles. Distractions include but are not limited to cell phones, changing radio stations, reading, eating or conversations.” Good points, but what importance is placed on two sentences deep in a manual? How seriously is this being taken?

Here’s How Serious It Is

According to a 2009 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Study, 78% of crashes involved at least one distraction. The majority of CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) accidents involve inattentive drivers. The consequences of ignoring this may not just affect companies’ insurance rates and CSA scores… it can affect lives. Are you taking it seriously?

How to Take it Seriously

Start by outlining the procedures and policies. Include common distractions and causes of inattentiveness.

• Limit cell phone use while driving. In case of emergency, only use hands-free systems.
• Do not use mobile devices to communicate via keyboard, including texting, email, and social media.
• Do not attempt to read while driving, including navigation, instructions, and work related forms.
• Never view any screened entertainment, including movies, YouTube, and etc.
• Avoid eating while driving and limit food and drink to snacks and beverages, which are easy to consume.
• Avoid distractions that take your eyes off the road, such as changing radio stations (use presets or search options), operating a CB radio, and distractions from passengers.
• Do not drive impaired (fatigue, illness, medication, alcohol, or illicit drugs).

Review, Review, Review

I’ve introduced policies and procedures in new employee orientation at various companies I’ve worked with, and HR specialists have occasionally asked why I reviewed the material with employees since it was already in writing. I want to be certain policies are understood by everyone. I also wish to answer questions and express the importance of the information.

• Review the policy with new employees, read it, explain it, and share its importance.
• Review the policy with every employee who may ever drive a company vehicle.
• Conduct periodic safety meetings and review distracted driving policies.
• Share distracted driving information and updates via social media, email, and company newsletter.

Having a driver safety policy isn’t enough. The policy must be trained, reviewed, monitored, and enforced, or it’s only words on a paper. A document may protect a company from liability or it may not, but it won’t repair damage to vehicles, reduce insurance costs, or relieve human agony. Are you serious about distracted driving? How do you prepare your drivers to avoid distractions and stay attentive?

* Always consult with an attorney before implementing any policy manual.