Distracted Driving

Last updated: March 25, 2019

What Does Distracted Driving Mean?

Distracted driving refers to driving while also engaged in another activity. Engaging in any non-driving activity increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Safeopedia Explains Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a major cause of workplace motor vehicle crashes, which are the leading cause of worker fatalities in the United States. Depending on the jurisdiction, employers may have a legal responsibility to prevent their workers from using cellphones and other devices while driving.

In the United States, employers are required to have a clear and enforced policy that prohibits texting while driving. Furthermore, employers who make workers feel as though texting while driving is a practical necessity of their job are in violation of the OSHA Act.

Distracted driving is broken up into three categories: visual (distracted eyes), manual (distracted hands), and cognitive (distracted mind). Texting while driving is considered particularly dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction. Under U.S. federal law, drivers of commercial vehicles (e.g. buses or large trucks) are not allowed to use a handheld device while driving. Federal employees are specifically prohibited from texting while driving under U.S. Department of Transportation law, and general bans on texting while driving have been passed in the majority of the states in the U.S..

OSHA considers distracted driving to be a major hazard and has previously engaged in public awareness campaigns related to the issue. At least one study has shown that drivers at work are more likely to engage in distracted driving behavior such as the use of cellphones. The average employer cost of non-fatal injury crashes at work involving distraction is $72,442. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that employers create distracted driving policies in order to reduce this risk.


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