We all know that sending text messages while driving is a big no-no. But hands-free texting is just fine, right?
Your traveling salespeople may be using that method while driving regularly.
But it turns out that hands-free texting and driving is no safer than manually texting and driving. In a study sponsored by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center, 43 research participants drove a vehicle on a closed course four times with four different sets of circumstances:
- driving distraction free
- driving while dictating a text message using Siri for iPhone
- driving while dictating a text message using Vlingo for Android, and
- driving while manually sending a text message.
The results were eye-opening. In any instance of a driver texting – whether verbally or manually – driver response times were significantly delayed. And believe it or not, manual texting actually took less time than the hands-free method!
So what does this have to do with your salespeople? Well, the employees most likely to drive and text or talk on a cellphone are your traveling salespeople. And allowing this behavior can lead to accidents — accidents that will force you to pay big.
Obviously there’s no need to ban cell phones in the actual office (unless there’s a productivity problem — which is a different story altogether), but taking action on distracted driving is definitely warranted.
April is the perfect time to finally get the ball rolling on incorporating a strict policy on cell phones while driving, since it is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Safety Council has provided materials for employers to use when educating employees on the dangers of using a cell phone while driving, including white papers, posters and fact sheets. Consider passing along the materials to HR.
Does your company have a cell phone policy in place? Let us know what you think about cell phone policies and the study in the comments below.