This week brings Distracted Driving Awareness Month to an end.  Normally an April event, it was postponed until October due to most areas being in a stay-at-home order by their state’s direction in an effort to “flatten the upward curve” of the COVID-19 virus.  If you think back to March and April, the roads were less traveled then.

As mandates lifted over time, Rutkoski Fencing, Inc. (RFI) and Merut Construction decided this was a great opportunity to remind our employees about the dangers of distracted driving in addition to our own driving policies.  Because as time passes, we can all use a refresher.

The Just Drive Pledge

In September, we took the Just Drive Pledge with the National Safety Council.  Both companies committed to promising, for their own safety and the safety of others they share the roads with, to not drive distracted in any way.  Here is what they agreed to:

While driving, I will not:

    • Have a phone conversation – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
    • Text or send Snapchats
    • Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
    • Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, or social media
    • Check or send emails
    • Take selfies or film videos
    • Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
    • Call or message someone else when I know they are driving
    • Consume food

Reported Statistics

If you look at the analysis reported by the National Safety Council in 2018, it states that 2,841 people died in distraction - affected crashes. Meaning that eight people die every day on our roads from a completely preventable cause. The same year, an estimated 276,000 people were injured in distraction - affected crashes, and there were an estimated 659,000 distraction - affected crashes resulting in property damage only.

These statistics only include accidents that were reported to have been caused by distractions.  There are many that go unreported.

Bringing About Awareness

During the month of October, our companies set out to bring awareness in a few ways: a social media campaign, weekly emails, and morning on-site toolbox talks.

We supported the Just Drive campaign as a reminder to practice distraction free driving by setting up for your ride while the vehicle is in park.  This included eating beforehand, programing the GPS, setting up your playlist, and silencing your phone before the vehicle is in motion.

We educated that multitasking is a myth and you cannot cognitively focus on driving safely while talking, texting, taking selfies, or checking emails on your cell phone.  It can wait until you pull over or have arrived at your destination.  The point can be made by asking yourself, “Can you read and talk on the phone at the same time?”.

And lastly, we discussed not being a “Scary Jerry”.  Being a “Scary Jerry” is from a humorous YouTube video of a coworker driving in any way possible distracted.  While driving, reckless Jerry was eating, talking on the phone, yelling, playing air drums to loud music, swerving, and shaving on his way to work.  His passenger, who was also his coworker, was scared.  When Jerry gets to the office, his coworkers yell “surprise” which confused Jerry because it was not his birthday.  It was not a birthday party but an intervention about Jerry’s driving habits.  He is now informed that the distractions are dangerous, he realizes the err of his ways, and he takes the Just Drive Pledge.  The short video shows that you can be concerned about someone, bring the concern to their attention, and let them know it is time to change.  Are you a “Scary Jerry”?  Do you know a “Scary Jerry”?  You know what to do.

360 Vehicle Walk Around

To add our employee’s driver safety and company policy, RFI and Merut Construction also supplied every vehicle with a 360 Walk Around Cone as a reminder to perform this task.  The green cone is placed on the front passenger side of the hood or by the passenger window and/or antenna when exiting.

Before entering the company vehicle, the cone is removed while the driver walks around the vehicle in a full circle including their tow if applicable.  This practice makes the driver aware of any obstructions, other vehicles, or obstacles that might be present before starting the vehicle.  The cone can now be stored inside the vehicle.

With our efforts of bringing safety awareness to our employees and the community, RFI and Merut Construction’s goal is to make sure each team member gets to and from work safely to be with their loved ones.  The easiest way to remember all the lessons of Distracted Driving Awareness Month is to – Just Drive!