Distractions and Risk

Steve Smithgall, National SVP of Operations & Safety

Experienced construction professionals would never allow a crane operator to be engaged in a phone conversation while operating a crane. Why? Because we know intuitively that that operator must give his undivided attention to the task at hand – operating that crane safely - so no one is put at risk by his actions. So why is it so many of those same wise professionals think nothing of driving a 3500# vehicle down the road at 60 plus miles an hour while engaged in a phone call? Do we really need the government to make it law before we stop taking the risk? DO you think ‘click it or ticket’ is the reason we wear seat belts or have we accepted that it isn’t worth the risk of getting hurt that has us engaging that belt before we drive?
Have we convinced ourselves that because hands free devices are now available that the distraction has been removed? All of the research has proved that hands free devices have little or no effect on the distraction to our brain while driving. In fact tests have proven that drivers operating at or slightly above the legal alcohol limit of .08 are safer than someone engaged in a hands free phone conversation.
Here are the straight facts:

  • 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2013; and

  • Approximately 424,000 people were injured

  • Driving distracted increases the risk of getting into a crash by three times

Understand the risk and with this knowledge decide to eliminate the risk of distracted driving.
We have explored this topic here at Balfour Beatty Construction and have taken a stand and instituted a 100% no distracted driving policy for all of our teammates. We’d love to see more companies do this to protect their employees – and everyone else on the road.
For more information: http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html