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Distracted Driving

Like most kids growing up in the sixties, I read the newspaper funnies every night with my dad after he was done with the sports section. In those days, there was a simple two panel cartoon that would lampoon public displays of stupid behavior, called There Oughta Be A Law, a blatant rip-off of They’ll Do It Every Time!

The first panel showed someone doing something preposterous and the second panel would suggest that there should be a law to punish such acts. Although I didn’t always get the adult-based humor, the idea stuck with me my whole life.

How often have you witnessed people doing stupid things and wondered why we don’t have laws to stop them?  How many times have you witnessed public displays of poor parenting skills and wondered out loud if we should have a required test before someone’s allowed to procreate?  We’ve all done it and then had a good laugh. But sometimes the stakes are serious.

On the 25th anniversary of my near fatal head-on collision with a dump truck, I was drawn to this article on distracted driving.  Certainly, the hit and run driver who caused my accident wasn’t on a cell phone or texting back in 1990, but there’s a good chance he was distracted.

Fast forward to 2015 and we learn from OSHA that distracted driving is now the number one cause of workplace deaths.

Imagine that. Of all the dangers we face at work…mining, fighting wildfires, roofing, heavy construction, petrochemical processing, even fishing in the arctic circle, the number one cause of death is distracted driving!

OSHA is beginning to put pressure on employers to have hard-and-fast policies regarding employee cell phone use while driving.  They want mandatory employee training and harsh penalties, including employee discharge, for offenders. I won’t hold my breath waiting for regulations to fix the problem (The Perversion Of Safety), but I’m grateful for their good intentions.

Do your self, your employer and the rest on mankind a favor tonight.  Throw the phone in your briefcase and put it in the trunk of your car.  You can call them back when you get home.

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