On June 8, corporate America joined the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) in a joint venture to encourage employers to adopt policies to discourage distracted driving by employees. In their collaboration, the Better Business Bureau will feature a link from their website to a free tool kit that provides employers with sample company policy, memo to employees on that policy, company press release, and other materials. Also, the BBB website will provide videos from DOTs “Faces of Distracted Driving” video series.
This follows the DOTs ban on commercial motor vehicle drivers from texting while driving and the Obama Administration's ban on federal employees from doing the same. Those bans followed a October 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Traffic Institute, it was reported that texting while driving raises the risk of a safety critical event 26.3 times. Thus proving what we knew all along - no one is really good at multi-tasking - especially when driving down the road at 55 mph.
As our texting population grows so will the level of distraction. One of the featured speakers for the 2011 DRI Annual Meeting, New York Times columnist Matt Richtel, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for his series called Driven to Distraction. Richtel has studied this issue extensively and cites a New York Times poll that 50% of Americans believe texting-while-driving should be punished at least as harshly as drunken driving. Richtel also questions whether, once we reached this state of constant distraction, we can ever be focused again.
Now, how many times were you distracted by the phone, e-mail, internet or a colleague while reading these few short paragraphs? It took me 30 minutes, three phone calls, four websites and 13 e-mails in that time just to return to the focus of this piece. It is a good thing I am not driving.