Distracting driving is a serious issue. It is one of the leading causes of car accidents in North America.
It has received a lot of mainstream press recently, even within the limousine industry. Remember the unfortunate incident involving the limo fire in California that caused the deaths of five passengers? It has since been reported that the driver of the limo was distracted, and was on his cell phone at the time of the incident. This incident raises some issues about limo companies and their need to pay more attention to distracted driving habits.
Types of distracted driving
While many people associate distracted driving with cell phone use and texting while driving, there are actually many different forms, all of which are dangerous and can inhibit a driver’s ability to keep their eyes and attention on the road at all times. Here are some of the most common types of distracted driving habits:
• Using a cell phone
• Eating and drinking
• Adjusting the radio or CD player
Distracted driving is any action that is performed by a driver that causes them to lose focus and take their eyes off the road. This includes all visual, auditory and physical distractions that take your focus off the road when you are behind the wheel.
Limo-specific distracted driving issues
There are also a number of distracted driving practices that are specific to limo drivers and other transportation operators. As a limo driver, it is your job to be professional and act in a manner that ensures your passengers arrive to their destination safely. However, customer service also plays a role, and limo drivers need to find the correct balance between safe driving and great customer service when they are on the job. This can be a tough balancing act, especially when the limo is in motion. It is not uncommon for passengers to ask questions or engage drivers during the trip, but this can also cause drivers to become distracted.
Here are a number of distracted driving issues that are specifically relevant to limo operators:
• Talking to passengers: It’s common for drivers to chat with passengers and engage them in conversation, especially when driving town cars. However, drivers need to make a conscious effort to ensure their focus remains on the road at all times. Rowdy and unruly passengers can also be a major distraction, and this is why it is important that you enforce your limo companies’ rules when it comes to passenger safety.
• Cell phone use while driving: Since drivers spend a lot of hours in the car, it makes sense that they will have their phones in their vehicles. While this is important for business as cell phones are commonly used to talk with the office, other drivers, and to communicate with passengers, drivers need to make sure that they do not use their phones while the limo is in motion. Pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot if you need to make a call, if you do not have Bluetooth or a hands-free device.
• Playing with GPS/maps: Again, using GPS and maps are an ingrained part of being a limo driver. You need to use these tools to select routes and ensure your passengers get to their destinations in a timely manner. But it is important that you do not allow these things to distract your attention away from the road.
So what can limo companies do to reduce distracted driving practices by driver?
Driver training and education is the first step to ensuring your drivers are not engaging in distracted driving practices. Make distracted driving part of your regular health and safety trainingm and make sure that this topic is addressed when training new drivers. Getting into an accident that is caused by distracted driving opens the door to a whole set of liability and insurance issues, not to mention how it also impacts your reputation within the industry and in the eyes of consumers. Take a proactive approach to distracted driving and road safety by taking the time to train your drivers and educate them about the dangers of distracted driving practices. Drive safe! //LD