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December 05, 2012
Reducing distracted driving

The Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), the national trade association representing private sector solid waste and recycling services industry, announced that it has published Distracted While Driving, a white paper outlining the risks of distracted driving and providing tips for waste service companies to manage driving distractions.

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According to an EIA news release, driving distractions occur whenever drivers take their hands, eyes, ears, and minds off the wheel and the road.  Activities that distract drivers include reading, eating and drinking, operating navigation systems, talking with passengers, or using cell phones to talk, text, or surf the Web. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) says distracted driving contributed to 18 percent of all injury crashes in 2010, causing more than 3,000 deaths and more than 416,000 injuries, notes EIA. In November 2011, the DOT issued a final rule specifically prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicles.

Cell phones—top culprit

Cell phone use while driving is of particular concern when combating distracted driving.  Research cited by the white paper finds that cell phones used for texting can increase fatal crashes by 6 to 23 times, and drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to become involved in crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

The white paper recommends that companies require drivers to:

  • Turn off personal phones or switch them to silent mode before entering a company vehicle.
  • If drivers need to make a cell phone call, have them pull over to a safe area first.
  • Ask a helper or another passenger to make a return call for the driver.
  • Arrange times during the day for drivers to contact supervisors or dispatchers when the vehicle is parked.
  • Do not allow drivers to ever send or respond to text messages, surf the Web, or read e-mails while driving because it is dangerous and against the law in most states.
  • Familiarize drivers with state and local laws before they drive a company vehicle.
  • Have drivers refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading, and any other activities that divert their attention from driving.

Click here to read EIA’s white paper.

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