Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cell Phone Use & Driving Safety

Cell phone use has risen to be the number one cause of distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a factor in 25 to 30 percent of all traffic crashes. With hectic schedules and roadway delays, many employees feel pressured to multi-task just to keep up with their personal and work-related responsibilities. More time on the road means less time at home or at work but “drive time” can never mean “down time.” Since drivers make more than 200 decisions during every mile traveled, it's critical for employers to stress that when driving for work, safe driving is their primary responsibility.

The National Safety Council notes results of several studies specifically related to cell phone use while driving, including:

  • Drivers using a cell phone are at a four times greater risk of a crash
  • Cell phone use contributes to 6% of all crashes, and
  • The annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes is estimated at $43 billion.

NSC admits other in-car activities are more dangerous than using cell phones. However, cell phone use has become so prevalent, it has become more dangerous overall.

Also, studies show that hands-free devices don’t make cell phone calls safer while driving safe.

What’s the difference between talking on a hands-free phone and speaking with someone else in a car? Unlike the passenger sitting next to you, the person on the other end of the call is oblivious to what’s happening around the driver on the road. The passenger provides another pair of eyes and can help keep the driver alert.

In summary, we can learn that driving safely requires drivers to remain focused on driving at all times. Whether it is a cell phone or other distraction, remind your employees about their workplace safety obligations.


  1. Joe, Thank you for your question.

    OSHA does not evaluate ANY individual products. Sometimes a product may have a label that says, "OSHA Approved" or something similar. This only means that a particular product (a ladder for example) meets the safety standards that have been established by OSHA regarding the product. This determination is made by an outside testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory. OSHA has very few standards regarding actual products. Most OSHA standards regulate employer actions, not products. Therefore, regarding your product, not only will OSHA not evaluate your product, it does not have any applicable standards by which you could have it evaluated by an outside laboratory.

    With that said. I do feel that your product has significant advantages, potential to improve driving safety and save lives. It is my recommendation that you pursue marketing of your product through safety trade shows or organizations that teach driving safety.

  2. Does OSHA or any other agency have any rules, regulations or recommendations on cell phone use in a factory (not driving)? Any data on accidents and productivity while using cell phones or texting in a factory setting?

  3. I am not aware of any formal guidance from OSHA regarding this issue. If cell phone use on the job is posing a safety hazard, then employers are obligated to address the issue based upon the "General Duty Clause" of the OSHA Act. This is the basic requirement that employers must provide a workplace that is safe from any recognizable hazard.