For people who spend a significant part of their working day on the road, the temptation to multi-task is huge. From eating a meal on the go to texting or phoning to confirm appointments with clients, community and home care providers may try to save time by taking care of business while driving. But the risk isn’t worth the possible time saved.
Many people seem to be tempted, though. Results from a 2019 Desjardins survey are alarming: 45 percent of drivers admit to being distracted by phone-related activities and 31 percent by eating or drinking.
The consequences of distracted driving are well documented. In Ontario, someone is injured in a distracted-driving incident every 30 minutes. Here in BC, around 75 people die each year in crashes involving distracted drivers. Workers who are injured in motor vehicle crashes are typically off work much longer than those injured in other workplace incidents (average 84 days vs 55 days for all WorkSafeBC claims 2014-18) and even a minor fender-bender that puts a community care worker at home recuperating for a few days can be difficult for the worker and inconvenient for a business that is already short-staffed.
Studies show that one of the key challenges may be getting drivers to recognize they are guilty of the same behaviour they are quick to criticize in others: 93 percent of participants in that same 2019 Desjardins survey of Canadian drivers believe they rarely or never drive distracted by their own phones, yet 84 percent report seeing other drivers looking at their phones. In other words, most people believe someone else is the problem, not them.
Community and home care employers can play a crucial role in helping their employees to understand their responsibilities and avoid the risks of distracted driving. Road Safety at Work provides free resources for employers on this topic, including:
- Controlling Exposure to Driving-Related Hazards (online course);
- Manage distracted driving in your workplace (webinar);
- Distracted driving (tailgate meeting outline);
- Distractions and Solutions for Drivers (tip sheet); and
- Distracted Driving (video).
In addition, having clear and effective policies and procedures can demonstrate to workers that you take distracted driving seriously and expect them to do the same. The toolkit, Building Strong Road Safety Policies, includes sample distracted driving policies for you to adapt to your company’s needs, and provides a step-by-step approach for creating and implementing all types of workplace policies.
You can’t be in the vehicle with every frontline care provider, but you can protect your greatest assets by sending them out on the road with the knowledge and policies that will help them stay safe enroute to their next client.
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