Are Bad Driving Habits Part of Your Job Description?
Although it may sound simple, establishing negligence in a personal injury claim can be complicated and depends on a variety of factors. One of the most common causes of negligence in a car accident is distracted driving, which can include the following behaviors:
- Using a GPS or reading a map. The human brain really can’t efficiently pay attention to two things at once. When you focus on a GPS to punch in the coordinates you take your eyes off the road; when you cover your wheel with a paper map, you not only lose focus on the road, but you also lose control of your steering. This kind of distraction can cause you to lose control and collide with other vehicles. Setting coordinates into a GPS before you begin driving is recommended, but if you need to adjust the coordinates, you should pull off to the side to do so safely.
- Eating and drinking, adjusting dials, and grooming. Sadly, we’ve all done it—grabbed a protein bar or swung through a drive-thru on the way to work and devoured it while driving. However, that doesn’t mean it is a safe practice. Anything that takes your focus off of the road and your hands off the wheel (searching in the bag for that last fry, for example, or unwrapping the packaging from a snack) can potentially cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
- Texting or talking on the phone while driving. If you don’t know that texting while driving is a serious distraction, you may want to use your phone to look up public service announcements related to cell phone use and driving—there are literally hundreds.
- Watching anything other than the road. Technology is both a blessing and a burden. With smartphones and portable DVD players, instead of watching the scenery go by passengers can watch videos right in the car. Unfortunately, although video may be a welcome distraction for your children, it can also be a risky distraction you while driving.
Essentially, any behavior that takes a driver’s eyes off the road—even for a couple of seconds— may be considered a form of distracted driving. Therefore, it is in your best interest to avoid these behaviors to avoid causing an accident.
When Distractions Are a Part of the Job
What are you supposed to do when you have a job that involves travel and being available by phone at all times? Is safety still the number one priority when it gets in the way of your job?
Yes, of course it is. Safety is always the number one priority. Can you imagine causing a fatal car accident just because your boss needed you to e-mail a document to him? If your employer insists that you’re reachable at all times (including while driving), there are a few things you can do to maintain your safety.
- Speak with him about the accident dangers involved. Your boss may not even realize the danger he is putting you in when he demands an immediate response. Tell him that you will always answer his messages when it is possible and safe, but if you do not answer right away, he needs to be okay with knowing that you’ll return his call as soon as you can.
- Talk to your human resources department. If your boss does not change after you talk to him, you may want to pay a visit to your company’s human resources (HR) department. Ask if there are any company policies regarding cell phone use, and also talk to your HR representative if you feel your boss is not taking your safety seriously. HR can make sure things change—and quickly.
- Compromise with a hands-free device. If you have a job where you just absolutely must be reached immediately, even while driving, ask your employer to provide you with a hands-free device to use while you are in the car. It doesn’t mean you will be completely distraction-free, but you will not be preventing your eyes from watching the road or your hands from steering.
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