One of the most serious safety hazards I am exposed to on a daily basis as the Safety Manager at Tocci, is not found on any construction projects, but is found on the roadways with distracted drivers.
Over the past few years, one of my biggest “pet peeves” is looking over at another driver and seeing them texting, typing, or dialing away on their phone or some other electrical device at highway speeds. As technology has advanced over the years, distracted driving has become a dangerous epidemic on today’s roadways. While cell phone use is one of the major causes, it is not the only one. Whether it’s a cell phone, music player, reprogramming a GPS, or using any electronic mobile device when driving leads to distracted driving.
Sometimes during my safety meetings, I discuss a scary study that I once read that shows drivers who send or receive text messages, focus their attention away from the road for almost five seconds. At sixty miles per hour (which is considerably slower than most highway driving), that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. The three main types of distractions include taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind and attention off or driving.
Not only is this a dangerous practice, but it is also illegal. Massachusetts passed the Safe Driving Law signed by Governor Patrick which became effective on September 30, 2010. Among other provisions, the law bans sending, typing, or reading electronic messages to or from handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle. This includes the use of the internet and text messaging. The law also bans all handheld electronic devices by junior operators while behind the wheel.
Due to the serious nature of distracted driving, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has issued a recommendation that employers should prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text or email while driving.
Distractive driving is a dangerous and irresponsible habit that can have serious and devastating consequences in a split second. In order to avoid the urge to check my messages, or make phone calls when I am driving, I intentionally place my phone face down on the passenger’s seat before I put my car into drive. For your safety, and the safety of everyone on the roadway, I challenge you to do the same.
Are distracted drivers a problem in your area? Tweet at us here, but don’t do it while you are driving!