Safety Today

Distracted driving affects every employee

HOUSTON – April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, during which numerous organizations,
media outlets and companies are communicating the importance of staying focused while on the road.
According to the latest statistics, approximately 26 percent of all accidents are related to distractions
— cell phone use in particular.

“Recent studies highlighting the prevalence of ‘cell phone driving’ are troublesome,” said Brian Simmons,
senior manager of health & safety for WM. “I think it has now become a cultural challenge for us, in part
because it has not been met aggressively by either legislation or restrictive technology, so we are dealing
with a dangerous behavior that has become an accepted aspect of our daily lives.”

Whether you operate a WM truck, or work in an office, driving safe is everyone’s responsibility. To stay
safe, follow these simple guidelines.

  1. Turn off the cell phone when the ignition is on
  2. If you’re a passenger, make sure your driver does the same
  3. Spread the word to family, friends and coworkers on the dangers of distracted driving

If you need some guidance, there are websites with information. One of the leading sources is,
which has downloadable presentations, fliers and even an online pledge form.

“Some drivers make the mistake of believing that talking on a cell phone actually makes them more focused,
leading them to pay more attention to what is happening around them,” Simmons said. “That claim in not at all
supported by science.”

“In fact, the mind possesses an established cognitive ability, or capacity to process information, and when
you talk on the phone while driving, you must borrow that processing power to engage in thoughtful conversation.
That brain power will ultimately be poached from your intelligent commitment to vehicle control, and your active
analysis of the roadway environment.”

The key take away: Turn off the phone while on the road. Stay informed. Encourage loved ones to do the same.

Changing habits can be difficult, but they’re possible. For example, about three years ago, Waste Management
implemented a strict policy of no cell phone use while operating a vehicle. In addition, DriveCam rolled out
across North America at all hauling sites. Since then, cell phone use while driving decreased by more than 50 percent.

If WM’s drivers can do it, so can the rest of the workforce. Commit to safer driving this month.