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April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Educate Your Staff

As accidents skyrocket in part due to people using their smartphones while behind the wheel, April has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month – a great time for you as an employer to further promote safe driving among your staff.

Hammering home the importance of safe driving can keep your employees from causing serious damage or worse to a third party, and also help keep your insurance costs in check.

That’s especially important now as commercial auto insurance rates are rising due to a combination of factors, including:

  • More traffic – The number of total miles driven has increased 50% faster in California than in the rest of the country since the start of 2015, and more vehicles and mileage equals a higher frequency of accidents.
  • Distracted drivers – 25% of accidents now involve at least one driver talking on a phone, texting or using some smartphone feature.
  • Escalating medical costs – Medical care costs are increasing at a significantly higher rate than other costs, like repairs.
  • More fatalities and other severe accidents – Accident rates per person and per mile of driving are rising.
  • Inexperienced or poor commercial drivers – There is a general shortage of skilled commercial drivers with good driving records.
  • Rising auto repair costs – Record U.S. auto sales mean garages are often servicing newer cars, many of which are equipped with more expensive parts.

While you are likely to see an increase in your insurance rates even if you’ve had no accidents, you’ll want to make sure that you continue focusing on safety to reduce the chances of future accidents.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company recommends that employers who have driving employees:

Implement a fleet safety program

This should include:

  • A questionnaire to weed out employees and job applicants with poor driving records,
  • Requiring road tests for new driving employees,
  • Training them in post-crash procedures and reporting,
  • Carrying out continuing driver training and education,
  • A policy on mobile devices by drivers,
  • Having a list of sample safe-driving performance expectations, and
  • Conducting regular vehicle maintenance and inspections.

Enforce company policy for use of vehicles

Use standard operating procedures like limiting personal use of company vehicles and monitoring who can use them.

Hire qualified drivers 

Create a form for each applicant to document their driving history, employer references, medical certificates, and more.

Use a company fleet 

There are extra risks involved when drivers use personal vehicles on the job.

Train your drivers 

Some topics you can cover in your safety training include breakdowns, distracted driving, driving under the influence (DUI), the importance of resting when tired, negotiating heavy traffic conditions, and the dangers of speeding.

Regularly check driving records 

Set a schedule for checking an employee’s driving records to ferret out any deterioration in their experience, particularly if they’ve been cited for a DUI.

Review every accident 

Your insurer will often be able to supply you with a vehicle accident form for your employees to fill out and follow in case of an accident, including witness names, circumstances, and the other driver’s information, including insurance.

You should have contact information for the person in your office that they should contact in case of an accident.

Also, urge your drivers to take photos of the accident scene.

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