Safe driving practices for employees

More than 42,000 Americans died in a traffic-related incident in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation .

This is a grim reminder that adopting safe driving practices can be lifesaving.

Safe driving habits

Defensive driving and other safe driving techniques are learned habits. Here are some tips to help equip employees and yourself with the knowledge you need to be safer on the roads.

Identify the following common hazards and actively avoid them:

  • Changing road or traffic conditions. Adjust your driving to match the traffic around you, and the weather and road conditions.
  • Impaired driving. Never drive with alcohol or drugs in your system and keep an eye out for other drivers that may be impaired.
  • Distractions, such as food, maps, and cell phones. Avoid distractions that take your attention away from driving or your hands off the wheel. Pull over and stop if you need to text or make a call.
  • Driving while sleepy or drowsy. Pull over and rest if you are tired.

Adopt these safe driving procedures:

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Drive at a speed safe for the weather conditions. Snow and rain may warrant slowing down below the posted limits.
  • Maintain space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. A safe margin is 2-4 seconds when weather and traffic conditions are ideal, and longer if conditions are slippery or traffic is congested. Commercial vehicles should always maintain a 4+ second space in front of their vehicle.
  • Regularly glance 2-3 vehicles ahead of you, behind you and to your sides, and use your mirrors to check blind spots.
  • Look left, right, and left again before entering an intersection.
  • Ensure the path is clear, even if you have the right of way at an intersection.
  • Maintain an escape route in case of an unexpected event. 

Company cell phone policy

Cell phone use is a major contributor to distracted driving and therefore driving-related injuries and deaths. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety , citing a 2018 study, the crash risk was “2-6 times greater when drivers were manipulating a cell phone compared with when they were not distracted.”

Currently, 24 U.S. states have a ban on hand-held phone use while driving , and all but two states, Montana and Missouri, have a ban on texting while driving. It’s important for all drivers to know the laws for any state they’re traveling through.

Your company policy should address cell phone use if you have employees whose job includes driving. Not only does it help keep employees safe, but it could help your organization’s bottom line. The National Safety Council reports that employers have been held liable for crashes caused by employee cell phone use, including the use of hands-free devices.

We offer a sample cell phone policy CompTalk in our resource catalog. This example policy prohibits any use of phones while driving for work, regardless of an employee’s use of hands-free devices. It requires employees pull over and stop before calling, answering, or texting using a cell phone.

Employee training

After establishing company-supported safe driving practices and a cell phone policy, be sure to train employees on them and follow up regularly to ensure employees are following the guidelines.

SFM offers training tools on defensive driving and cell phone use in our resource catalog.

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