Car shouldn't be your office
Does your boss expect you to be talking on the phone or texting while you are driving? A new survey of Capital Beltway drivers found that half of them say they are at least occasionally using the phone to respond to work issues. Only 18 percent said they never get on the phone for work.
Drivers 35 to 54 were the age group most likely to be dealing with work while driving, according to the survey, done for AAA Mid-Atlantic and Transurban-Fluor, the latter being the consortium building the High Occupancy Toll lanes in Virginia. We like to think of that age range as mature. Why do they engage in a distracted-driving behavior generally accepted as risky?
A majority of the drivers who respond to work issues while driving said they do so because they feel they should provide an immediate response to their employers.
That's a dangerous addiction, and some bosses are enablers. This is a particular concern in Northern Virginia right now, where most of the western Beltway, the main roads in Tysons Corner, nearby portions of Route 267 and the Telegraph Road interchange near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge are torn up by construction.
The Orange Cones. No Phones. campaign has created an Employer Safety Pledge and hopes to sign up 100 employers to help reduce distracted driving. So far, four have made that commitment: Booz Allen Hamilton, Inova Health System, Science Applications International Corp. and Tysons Corner Center.
I think that having employers tell employees that it's okay to turn the thing off and focus on their driving is at least as valuable as passing laws that are tough to enforce.
The employers are pledging that they will increase awareness among employees of the dangers of distracted driving and "create a new norm where employers consider on-road safety above the need for an immediate response."
Capt. Susan Culin, commander of the Fairfax County police traffic division, points out that distracted driving isn't something that happens only on the Beltway. She describes it as an epidemic and says, "We have to stigmatize this type of behavior and put an end to it."
| November 19, 2010; 9:45 AM ET
Categories: Traffic Safety, Tysons Corner | Tags: Distracted driving, Dr. Gridlock
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