Are You Getting the Message?

August 23, 2010

From Federated Insurance

Americans love the convenience and sense of security cell phones give us. The number of cell phones is growing and they’re being used in more ways than just talking—such as text messaging, picture messaging, and Internet surfing.  Has this useful device become a danger in the hands of inconsiderate users and distracted drivers?

Recent studies and news stories seem to confirm that driving and texting is a very dangerous combination.
• According to a study sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “…driving while text messaging was associated with a 400 percent increase in the amount of time spent looking away from the road, relative to driving without text messaging.” (1)
• A new study conducted in Great Britain goes even farther. It shows that sending messages from cell phones while driving is more dangerous than climbing behind the wheel at the legal alcohol limit (.08% blood alcohol content)(2)

According to the report, texting drivers are distracted in three ways:
  -Mental workload - Composing text takes the mind off the road
  -Control: Using the phone's keypad means only one hand is on the wheel
  -Visual attention: Eyes are on the phone not on the road ahead

When we add a human element to the statistics, the evidence can be sobering. The number of fatal auto accidents stemming from texting while driving is on the rise, especially among young drivers. In California, 25 people lost their lives and 135 were injured in a September 12, 2008, commuter train accident. Records show the driver of the train, which skipped a red light and hit a freight train head-on, received two text messages seconds before the terrible accident according to federal investigators.

A Word to the Wise
The California train accident should not have happened—but it did. It’s an example of when multitasking should not be an option because only one task—safe driving—really matters.
Make your employees aware of the dangers of texting while driving, whether they’re on the job or on their personal time. We should all think twice before putting our cellular phones into text mode when we’re behind the wheel.
Some large corporations have established bans on use of cell phones while driving on company business—both as a safety precaution for their employees and to avoid possible liability. We urge you to consider this or other safety measures to encourage sensible use of cell phones in vehicles.

Safety tips for cell phone use in vehicles:
 Don’t hunt for a ringing phone that’s out of reach.
 Pull over and stop to carry on a conversation.
 If you must talk, keep it short.
 Have a passenger take the call and relay the high points.
 Don’t address emotional or distressing issues while driving.
 Let calls go to voice mail instead of answering.
 Don’t text and drive.

Federated offers a safety program called “Distracted Driving—At What Cost?” that emphasizes the many ways business owners and their drivers can avoid the pitfalls of distracted driving. The program includes a packet of materials and a video that’s sure to make an impression. Contact your local Federated representative for more information.

Wireless technology can be great. Benefits include calling for help in an accident, scheduling appointments, and getting directions. But with all the distractions facing drivers—both inside and outside the vehicle—don’t add to the situation by trying to send a text message while driving.

[1] “Driver Distraction: A Review of the Current State-of-Knowledge,” Department of Transportation, NHTSA, DOT-HS-810-704 April 2008
[2]“The Effect of Text Messaging on Driver Behaviour” by N. Reed & R. Robbins, Transport Research Laboratory, for the RAC Foundation, September 18, 2008.

This article provided courtesy of Federated Mutual Insurance Company, your association’s recommended insurer.  This publication is intended to provide general recommendations regarding risk prevention.  It is not intended to include all steps or processes necessary to adequately protect you, your business or your customers. You should always consult your personal attorney and insurance professional for advice unique to you and your business.  ©Copyright 2009 Federated Mutual Insurance Company, All Rights Reserved.

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