ASSE Transportation Group Offers New Website, Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving

Statistics show that 500,000 people are injured each year and another 6,000 are killed by drivers who are distracted, particularly by their phone.

Members of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) say that distracted driving can lead to harrowing life changing events and warns drivers to pay attention to the road as part of April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. ASSE’s Transportation Practice Specialty (TPS) group developed a ‘How to Avoid Distracted Driving’ tip sheet discussing crash force, distraction events, distance traveled in seconds, and more at a new prevent distracted driving website at http://www.asse.org/newsroom/safetytips/distracteddriving.php.

A vehicle is a machine weighing anywhere from 3,000 pounds and up and can cause major damage especially if it crashes while traveling at speeds of 40 miles or more per hour. Massive damage can occur even it one takes their eyes off the road for a second, TPS says.

Statistics show that 500,000 people are injured each year and another 6,000 are killed by drivers who are distracted, particularly by their phone. Young drivers are more likely to be killed in distraction-related crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). A recent Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report found an increase in teen driver roadway crash fatalities in the first six months of 2011, illustrating a need to increase awareness about the dangers of distracted driving especially for teens. Noting the increase in injuries, ASSE chapters will also be discussing the topic at meetings.

“We are very concerned as roadway crashes continue to be the number one cause of on-the-job deaths,” said ASSE President Terrie S. Norris, CSP, ARM, CSPI.

The ASSE TPS group works on transportation safety by developing and implementing driver safety programs as well as commercial vehicle safety maintenance programs. Most work for companies that have long standing driver safety company policies that include banning in-vehicle cellphone use and other distracted driving activities. ASSE member Randall Butler, of Bridgeview, Ill., noted that he has put in commercial vehicle safety programs for his company at locations around the U.S. and done training and has found that this works. The major problem that we have, he says, is not being able to control other drivers on the road.

ASSE TPS members Earnest F. Harper, CSP, DABFE, DABFET, CFC, of Idaho, and Timothy C. Healey, of Connecticut, say people should realize there are clear physical dynamics involved that can be dangerous when one is operating a large machine like a car and take their eyes off the wheel, even for a few seconds.

“At 40 mph you are traveling 58.7 feet per second (fps), meaning that in the 2.9 seconds it takes for that eye glance, looking away from the road ahead to reach for something, you will have traveled 170 feet (58.7fps x 2.9s). At 60 mph, you are moving at 88 fps,” said TPS member Earnest F. Harper, CSP. “During that 2.9 second glance away from what you are driving into, you have traveled over 255 feet.”

TPS suggests the following to avoid distracted driving:

  • Program your device so you do not answer and notify the caller that you will be driving and are not available to respond at the moment. In an emergency, family should know to call 911 or other family members.
  • Know your route in advance and, if using a navigation system, pre-program it.
  • Prepare the vehicle cab and yourself for driving, including management of any distraction inside or outside of your vehicle.
  • Focus on driving: Maintain safe spacing or move to a less obstructed lane.

ASSE is urging motorists to put their phone down, or turn it off when they’re in the car, avoid eating, and program the GPS before they leave. Minimizing distractions allows drivers to maximize their attention on the road.

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