Take Back Our Roads: Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving

June 15th, 2017

Pandora. GPS. Radio Commercials. Drinking Coffee. Talking to your kids in the backseat. Even if you’re not texting behind the wheel, chances are high that something happens while you’re driving that prevents you from giving the road your full attention. And while most of these activities seem fairly innocent, taking only a second or two to address, they each represent a different form of distracted driving that can dramatically increase your risk of an accident.

Fully 94% of all vehicle crashes are caused by human error – a sobering fact when you consider the real life implications behind the statistics. Hays Vice President of Risk Management Services, Tom Goeltz, understands this better than most as his daughter, Megan Goeltz, was killed at the age of 22 by alleged distracted driver, leaving behind a three-year-old daughter and a loving family.

For Goeltz, distracted driving is a national epidemic. OSHA agrees, having launched a distracted driving initiative in recent months. In a supporting compliance article, the administration states “The top priority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is keeping workers safe. While workplace fatalities have been decreasing in recent years, motor vehicle crashes continue to be one of the leading causes of death among American workers.” In addition, a study conducted by the University of Utah discovered that cell phone users demonstrated higher levels of impairment then drivers who had been drinking.

To prevent distracted driving, OSHA recommends implementing policies that prevent individuals from reaching for their phones in the first place. Goeltz supports the position, arguing that breaking the habit of distracted driving requires a similar mentality shift as our approach to drinking and driving. In our society, driving under the influence has become a universal taboo, resulting in using a designated driver or a service like Uber. As Goeltz says, the same can be done with distracted driving habits.

With their most recent iOS update, Apple will be doing their part to keep the roads safe with the new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature. The feature, which will be triggered when a phone is connected to a car via Bluetooth or cable, will withhold all notifications while the car is moving. Users will still be able to access Apple Maps, but the majority of apps will stay locked for the duration of the drive.

Not an iPhone user? Goeltz offers some additional tips to prevent distracted driving:

  1. Turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode.
  2. Use a Cell Slip, which blocks all incoming and outgoing cell phone signals while the phone is in the slip or keep your phone out of reach.
  3. Have an App installed on your phone to silence incoming texts, emails, phone calls.  We recommend one of the following:
    1. In-Traffic Reply (Samsung Exclusive)
    2. DriveMode (AT&T exclusive)
    3. Drivewise (Allstate Exclusive)
    4. Drive Safe & Save (State Farm Exclusive)
    5. Cellcontrol (Subscription-based app that blocks phone use while driving)
    6. Drive Safe Mode (Control and monitor mobile use while driving – perfect for teens!)
    7. Live2Text (Blocks incoming calls and texts while driving)

But most importantly, remember that no message is worth life or death. It can wait.