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Distracted Truck Driving: How to approach your team

It’s no secret distracted driving is a huge problem on the roadways today. Just take a look around next time you are on the road. However, when truck drivers are distracted, it can be a deadly problem. 

Distracted Truck Drivers

It’s essential to have regular safety meetings with your team to ensure that your employees don’t become a distracted truck driver. The first thing you can do is review what exactly is classified as “distracted driving.” The FMCSA tells us that to avoid distracted driving. There should be no reaching, no holding, no dialing, no texting, and no reading off of electronic devices.

Not only that but remind your team that these are things they should know about distracted driving, as Trucking Truth tells us:

  • New FMCSA regulations prohibit texting and hand-held mobile phone use while operating a commercial motor vehicle used in interstate commerce.
  • Drivers caught texting or using hand-held mobile phones are subject to fines, disqualifications, and being put out-of-service.
  • The FMCSA rules do not apply to devices used for dispatching, as long as they are used as part of the company’s fleet management system and are not being used for texting.
  • Research shows that CMV drivers who text were more than 23 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event than those who do not.
  • CMV drivers dialing mobile phones were six times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event.
  • While using hand-held devices to call or text is expressly prohibited, using the hands-free options of these devices is usually acceptable.
  • While state rules usually apply first, the fact that many states still haven’t devised rules to address distracted driving means that the FMCSA rules apply regardless of what state you are in.
Someone on their phone while driving a truck

Must Haves in a Commercial Distracted Driving Policy

Truce offers the following when implementing a commercial distracted driving policy for your team. 

1.) Explain clearly why the troubled driving policy is being implemented. When considering a distracted driving and cell phone policy, a health and safety professional must explain to all employees that a best-practice troubled driving policy is being implemented to comply with federal agency regulations and federal, state, and municipal laws.

2.) The policy must be seen to cover everyone. A commercial distracted driving policy must be comprehensive and applicable to all employees with no exception. Anyone who holds a license (driver’s license or commercial driver’s license) is subject to the same warnings and penalties if they fail to comply with the policy.

3.) The policy must include a best practices model. Implementing an effective policy to reduce distracted driving in a commercial motor vehicle or motor carrier involves more than publishing the policy in a handbook. It requires changing behaviors and people’s opinions about their behavior. Therefore, it is essential to be clear about what precisely are the best practices for safe driving without affecting productivity.

4.) Consider implementation in a policy. Preparing for a distracted driving policy must include consideration of how that policy is going to be implemented and how support among employees for the policy is going to grow. 

Pie chart of employers with distracted driving policies

Tips for building employee support throughout the implementation process include:

  • Holding pre-implementation meetings to discuss the need for a policy with employees
  • Encouraging commercial drivers to offer their ideas and solutions
  • Emphasizing the priority of safety, while asking employees to share ideas about maintaining productivity
  • Appointing employees from all sectors of the company as spokespeople for the new policy process
  • Communicating positive results to drivers after implementation.

5.) Be clear about enforcement and penalties. Every employee must be required to read and sign the policy, but only after understanding its disciplinary consequences. 

People holding hands up in a meeting

The Takeaway

Before your team gets on the road again, be sure to review this blog with them to cut down on distracted truck drivers. Remember, our job is to help you avoid emergencies altogether. Still, if something unfortunate were to happen, we’d want you to have the protection you need, just in case. To learn more about our commercial insurance coverages, give us a call at 860-684-5270. 

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