Many people spend at least part of their workday in a car. Their work may involve driving as part of their job responsibilities or they commute to their workplace. Drivers face numerous distractions during these times and may feel obligated to deal with (or think about) work while in transit. Anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your concentration from driving is dangerous. You should consider preventing distracted driving at work as a job responsibility, whether you’re on the clock or not.
Common Driving Distractions Related to Work
Technology in Your Car
Some jobs require keeping phones or screens active while driving. For example, you might need GPS to get to your next location or receive other information about your destination. Even used hands-free, they can still be visual or cognitive distractions.
Phone Calls and Texts
These days, the constant desire to connect with others via email, text and social media can be overwhelming. The distraction can be even worse when it comes to work, especially for those in competitive fields or jobs where business relies upon responsiveness. Some people cannot resist the urge to take work calls or texts while driving, even outside work hours.
The Desire to ‘Catch Up’ While Commuting
If you have a lengthy commute, it may be tempting to begin dealing with work while you’re still on the road. This can be dangerous even in stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic. Focus on safely reaching your destination, not your work documents.
If you carpool with others as part of your commute or job, be mindful that passengers can be a source of distraction whether you’re making eye contact with them or not. In-depth conversations about work or even the weekend sports highlights might divert your attention, causing you to lose focus on the road.
Eating and Drinking During Your Commute or Between Jobs
Do you eat breakfast or lunch in your car to save time? Eating and drinking while driving are significant distractions, since you need to take one or both hands off the wheel and probably look at what you’re eating. In focusing on getting the food in your mouth, your mind will be elsewhere. Consider saving your meal until you have arrived safely at your destination.
Avoiding and Preventing Distracted Driving
Ready to eliminate the driving distractions while on the clock? Good. Here’s how.
- Silence your phone! Turn it off and put it away every time you get in your car. If possible, you should let your emails, texts and calls wait until you reach your destination. If you’re waiting for a critical communication, pull over and check your phone in a safe place. On most phones, you can now set up an auto reply to notifications received while you’re driving, advising the sender that you are driving and will respond when you’ve reached your destination.
- Go hands-free. If you must answer calls or use GPS while driving, make sure that you can do so without holding or looking at your phone. Discuss a hands-free setup with your employer to make sure you can drive safely while conducting company business.
- Keep work at the workplace. Make a commitment to safe driving and keep your commute separate from your work time. Work texts and emails can wait until you arrive at the office or job site.
- Don’t schedule meals in your car. Save your meals for work or home. If you must eat while on the road between job locations, pull over and finish your meal.
Strategies for Employers
If you employ drivers or issue workplace technology that may be used in a car, you can reduce distracted driving by being proactive. Specifically:
- Educate your employees. Many people don’t realize how much they miss when they glance away from the road, even for a few seconds. Educate them on the most common distractions while driving emphasizing those related to the workplace. It’s important your employees understand that their safety is a priority.
- Create policies that condemn distracted driving. Many employers have specific policies related to impaired driving, drowsy driving and aggressive driving. It makes sense to have one for distracted driving as well, so your employees understand that it is not condoned. Enforce consequences for violating established rules.
- Forbid texting and other phone use while driving on company time. Phone use is unmistakably one of the biggest work-related distractions to drivers. Be sure your employees are aware of current cellphone laws.
- Set Appropriate Expectations. As an employer, ensure that you create an atmosphere that does not encourage the use of cell phones while driving. Avoid sending communications that require a response before or after business hours when your employees may be commuting. Set an expectation that immediate responses are not required or expected.