Reducing Distracted Driving Incidents/ Accidents/Near Misses

Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 12:05PM

Reducing Distracted Driving Incidents/ Accidents/Near Misses

The growing number of accidents and incidents on our roads daily continues to grow thanks to many factors. Year after year, the number of recordable fatalities has grown from state to state. This number does not include accidents without injury, or accidents that occurred on private property.

Evaluate Driving Habits

Safe driving practices must be displayed by all employees at all times. Just for conversation, let’s assume your employees driving habits are flawless throughout the shift in a course of one day. Let’s assume they drove flawlessly all day from dusk to dawn. For sake of conversation, imagine how many distracted drivers have surrounded your trucks in the course of a day. Each one of those “distracted drivers” could jeopardize your company safety record. At the end of the day, your drivers defensive driving habits are the only tools to make a return home without incident/accident possible.

The problem with this previous example is that drivers aren’t perfect. Trying their best, the odds are they will make a mistake at some point. It is very important to be selective in your hiring process, strict in your maintenance program, and have a tracking/system in place to monitor and correct unsafe habits from drivers. The key is to monitor and correct bad driving habits as soon as possible. It is also very important to help open your employee’s eyes to unsafe driving habits of others. At the end of the day, we are driving the larger vehicle and it is our responsibility to be defensive for all parties.

Distracted driving comes in all shapes and sizes. Common examples of distracted drivers could be:

  • Inexperienced drivers 
  • Drunken/buzzed drivers under the impairment of drugs or alcohol 
  • Elderly drivers—slower reaction time due to lack of hearing and vision declining
  • Youthful drivers—license holders with less than one-year experience turned loose with very little training 
  • Technology—cell phones, GPS, Tablets, oversized bright built-in screens 
  • Mental holidays—people thinking about everything but the task at end

Consistently Refresh Driving Practices and Track Drivers

Every piece of equipment needs maintenance to run reliable. The same practice should hold true with your drivers. You must constantly maintain and refresh their brain and driving skills in order to expect them to be reliable in the category of remaining incident and accident free. We recently started tracking and auditing our routes daily. This practice has brought the unity of the safety program through the entire company. With a recently installed GPS tracking system, we are able to watch our trucks in real time. We even have the ability to go back and review routes indefinitely from the time the units were installed. By tracking in real time, we are able to reduce the ways we self-inflict distract our drivers. Our dispatchers can see when they are stopped and at a safe location and make a call to give a directive. No longer does our dispatcher have to call the employee to see where he or she is, now they know for a fact.

Minimize Distractions

By reducing the number of distractions to our drivers, we hope to continue our excellent safety record as we grow. Every day our world and roads become harder to navigate. I encourage you as a fellow member of the industry to minimize the distractions that you can control. Do not add to the burden your drivers are faced with. Set up a policy and procedure that you can stick by and create a culture of 0-0-0. We have had this policy since we started and it has evolved over time. The basic is a safety culture that strives for 0-Accidents, 0-Incidents, and 0-Injuries. January is always a good time for new year’s resolutions. I challenge you to improve your safety culture and make actual changes to make our occupation a safer one for everyone affected by us men and women. | WA

John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world that we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail or visit

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