Olen Vanderleeden

Lessons Learned At the NSC's Employer Cell Phone Distracted Driving Seminar

I just landed back in Vancouver today, fresh from participating in and presenting at the Employer Cell Phone Distracted Driving Seminar put on by the National Safety Council at the San Diego Convention Center yesterday. Being in the business of providing solutions to address the problem of distracted driving, I consider myself to be relatively well informed on the subject, but I came away from the conference having learned a lot. I was extremely impressed by the content, the quality of the presenters and the commitment and engagement of the attendees. I am thankful to have been a part of this important event. A few lasting impressions that the seminar had on me:

  • This can impact anyone. I think most people understand the risks of distracted driving, but research suggests that few people are willing to adjust their own behaviour. Maybe human nature is to think of the problem as happening to others?  Well, I had the opportunity to meet three people at the conference, people like me with families like mine, who shared their own tragedies related to distracted driving and who made me realize that this can impact anyone.
  • Bringing about change takes courage. I was extremely impressed by the examples of courage, both from the presenters and the participants in the audience, who were willing to be leaders in changing behaviours related to distracted driving, even though that change can often be met with resistance and reluctance. I use as example National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman, Deborah Hersman, who delivered the keynote address at the seminar and who imposed a complete ban on the use of cell phones for all NTSB employees in 2009, including herself. It makes it hard to argue that you can’t “afford” to be unreachable while driving when leaders like Chairman Hersman show that you can. Furthermore, Dave Teater of the NSC presented some compelling studies on productivity in companies who banned cell phone use in vehicles – it may just change your bias.
  • Distracted driving involves more than just cars. I was stunned to hear examples of distracted driving incidences in trains, planes and boats [PDF].
    And least expected:b2ap3_thumbnail_olen-cycleguy.jpg
  • Technology plays an important role in addressing the issue. Technology, specifically Aegis Mobility's FleetSafer® product line, was a visible part of the solution to addressing the issue of distracted driving as a complement to corporate safe driving policies and practices. Not only does the Aegis solution ensure compliance with safe driving policies, but by automatically detecting the driving state and silencing all alerts, messages and calls, the Aegis products make it easy for employees to comply with safe driving policies and eliminate both the temptation and anxiety associated with connected devices.

I was very proud to be representing a company that I feel is an important part of the solution and to be part of very thoughtful debate with remarkable people at the seminar. I want to congratulate all the speakers at the conference this week; you were all passionate and excellent and I learned something from each of you. Consider this my strong recommendation for anyone concerned about the costs, risks and liabilities associated with employee use of phones in vehicles while on the job to get out to the next NSC seminar on April 25th at the Long Beach Convention Center. For anyone that can’t make it I encourage you to spend some time with the wealth of resources on the topic of distracted driving provided by the NSC here.

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