It’s not exactly news these days that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. Government seems to be getting the message. More and more Canadian jurisdictions are passing laws banning the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, with Alberta as one of the latest. But are corporations getting the message that—regardless of the law—they should bar their workers from using cell phones while operating vehicles and other company equipment?
According to a survey by the US-based National Safety Council (NSC), one out of five Fortune 500 companies has a total ban on cell phone use while driving that covers all workers. Most of these policies were implemented since 2008. And nearly all companies with total bans applied the policy to all company locations nationwide, regardless of varying state laws.
In January 2009, the NSC urged motorists to stop using cell phones and messaging devices while driving. But drivers aren’t going to put down their cherished electronic devices without a fight—or serious motivation to do so. So it’s good to see that major companies are taking steps to protect workers and force them to focus on driving while behind the wheel.
According to the survey, the top perceived barriers to implementing total bans were lack of management commitment, worker support and risk awareness. But companies that were able to put total bans in place saw clear benefits. For example, 22% said they experienced decreased crash rates and decreased property damage. As to concerns that total bans will reduce productivity:
- 19% said productivity increased;
- 22% said productivity remained the same;
- 52% don’t yet know the impact on productivity; and
- 7% said productivity decreased.
Of companies that responded to the NSC survey and don’t have a policy banning cell phone use while driving, 35% claim to have plans to implement one within the next 12 months.