How to prevent distracted driving at work

If you're not a bus driver, long- distance trucker or a taxi driver, you probably don't think about driving at work much. After all, your job is to do something else, not to drive.

But a lot of us drive for work all the time, even if it's not a core function. Salespeople going from customer to customer, a receptionist picking up lunch for the office, a team leader driving across town for a meeting with another group are all driving while working.

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And that means your company needs to be concerned about distracted driving.

What is distracted driving? Quite simply, it's doing anything other than focusing on the road. We often think of it just as texting or talking on our cell phones as distracting, but so many other things can bring us into that mode. For instance, changing the radio station. Or if you're that employee bringing back lunch, it's keeping your eye and arm ready to balance that stack of take-out containers before they fall over.

Businesses need to be clear in their expectations for all employees who drive on company time -- not just for the ones in company cars.

Travelers Small Business Commercial Insurance helpfully provided me with a guide on how businesses should approach the distracted-driving problem. It emphasizes that you should keep in mind all the times your employees are behind the wheel. Here are its suggestions:

1. Formalize -- Create written motor-vehicle policy stating your organization's position on mobile device use and other distractions while driving. A formal policy is the foundation of your distracted-driving prevention program. It should apply to everyone in your organization who drives a vehicle on company business, whether it's a delivery truck, a sales vehicle, a supervisor visiting job sites or an office employee using a personal vehicle to run errands.

2. Communicate -- To be effective, safety policies should be communicated on a regular basis. The best way to communicate your policy is to ask every employee who drives on company business to acknowledge in writing that he or she has read, understands and will follow the policy. But you should not stop there. Use email, newsletters, bulletin board postings, defensive-driving training and signage in vehicles to communicate your policy in various ways throughout the year.

3. Follow -- Managers and office staff should lead by example. Let employees know that while they're on the road, no phone call or email is more important than their safety. To further prove that point, managers and other staff should defer conversations with employees until they're safely parked.

4. Promote -- Managers should define safe driving practices and expected behaviors of those who drive for any business purpose. They should also take the appropriate steps to understand who is following these policies and actively promote the desired behavior.