Safety Today: Don’t become a statistic
Cell phones account for 18 percent of distraction-related fatalities
Houston – While the 100 Days of Summer Safety campaign ended last week, Waste Management’s
focus on safety for all employees remains unchanged. That’s why for the month of October, Safety Services
will be communicating prevention tips around one of the deadliest hazards on the road: distracted driving.
In 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving accounted for
10 percent of severe crashes and more than 380,000 injuries. Of these incidents, cell phones are a leading
cause, accounting for 18 percent of distraction-related fatalities.
While WM drivers are on the road most of the day (at a greater risk of encountering distractions), it’s a
hazard that applies to any employee.
“Whether you’re in a car or a truck you need to be mindful of yourself and other drivers,” said Jeff Martin, vice
president of Safety Services. “All it takes is one distraction to cause a major accident. That’s why it’s WM’s
policy to prohibit talking on the phone or texting while driving a WM truck.”
There are three main types of distractions:
Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
Visual — taking your eyes off the road
Cognitive — taking your mind off driving
Under these categories are any number of distractions, from eating and drinking to using a navigation system to
talking with a passenger. Cell phones are unique in that they fall under any (or all) categories. Whether you’re
looking for your phone between the seat cushions, dialing a number or chatting with a person on the other line,
your ability to respond to events on the road becomes severely impaired.
When it comes to texting, all three categories — manual, visual and cognitive — are compromised, creating a
higher probability of an accident. In fact, you are 23 times more likely to have a collision while texting. It’s that dangerous.
“Every mind has a limited ability to process information,” Martin said. “If you divide that brainpower between normal vehicle
operation and a phone conversation, you will find yourself pretty focused on one and not the other.”
Throughout October, Safety Services will be distributing a series of flyers companywide to help communicate the
importance of avoiding distractions while on the road. Each flyer contains different statistics and information, as well as
what drivers or employees can do to prevent these kinds of incidents.
One such flyer highlights Cindie Holub, a woman killed in 2010 after being hit by a WM truck, the driver of which was
“There is no room for mistakes when you are behind the wheel of your personal auto or a truck that weighs 30,000 pounds
or more,” Martin said.
For information on how to stay safe on the road, visit distraction.gov.