Safety advocates are angry about slow regulatory processHave you ever noticed certain laws go entirely disobeyed?

Back in the ‘70s when the speed limits were dropped to 55 mph across the United States, almost no one followed the law.

Lately, I have noticed a similar phenomenon to the laws regarding hands-free cellular phone use and texting while driving.

Just this Sunday on the way to church, I noticed a truck in front of me begin to change lanes and then after partially moving to the next lane they went back to their original lane. Defensive driving then became a part of my conscious thinking regarding this truck driver. What was the cause of this behavior? Had they decided not to change lanes? Were they falling asleep at the wheel? Or, were they texting or using their cellular phone?

I changed lanes and cautiously passed the truck, which was going at least 5 mph below the speed limit (how often do you ever see that?). As I looked in my rear view mirror, I could see the driver with a cell phone in both hands on the steering wheel without even looking at the road.

Are no texting laws creating a false sense of safety?

Many states have laws that now prohibit texting while driving and also require drivers using cellular phones to do so only in hands-free mode.

I don't know about your part of the world, but in sunny California, I have counted occasionally and more than 80% of the drivers on the roads I travel are holding their cellular phone.

If your employees think the roads are safer because of the new laws they would be wrong. In fact, an unintended consequence of the no texting laws is unlike the truck driver I encountered, most texters now hold the phone on their lap to avoid being spotted by the police. They don't even have the road in their peripheral vision!

What can we do?

In my presentation, "Ensure Your Safety" I have encouraged people to take personal responsibility for their own safety. They need to do this because most of the rest of the world isn't focused on safety as is your company.

The highway is certainly where you have to watch out for your own safety. I tell many audiences when I drive I assume the drivers around me are texting. When I am deciding to pass someone I watch their eyes in their rear-view mirror. If I see them looking down it is a good bet they are distracted. Being aware of this may change my decision to pass or cause me to move two lanes over before I do pass.

Because of all the distracted driving now I look closely in both directions when a signal changes, allowing me to go through an intersection. I'm looking for the driver who is distracted and hasn't even seen the light change.

Just three days ago, I avoided a collision with a driver who just blew through a red light. I had begun to pull forward and stopped as I saw the vehicle approaching. The passengers looked right at me as they realized, after the fact, the driver had run the red light. Fortunately for them, I was driving defensively or they would have been hit directly by my vehicle.

The safest place is when you are at work

Remind employees it is getting more and more dangerous out there every day. Until we figure a way to motivate people to drive safely and think of others’ safety, we must watch out for ourselves. It is a fact more injuries occur off the job than on the job.

Until next week,
I'll be, "Watching Out For Everyone's Safety™"