Anything that takes your awareness away from driving can be detrimental and dangerous. Distractions can be visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), or mental (taking your mind off driving). Unfortunately, distracted driving accounts for about 9% of all fatal crashes, killing more than 3,000 people annually and leaving over 400,000 injured. [i]In partnership with many states, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has enacted laws to help prevent distracted driving. These include hands-free laws, no texting while driving, and limits on the number of young passengers who can ride with teen drivers. While the effectiveness of these laws requires further study, the practice, in theory, proves to be a worthy ideal.
This article will provide you with additional key ways to reduce risk and losses. We will also discuss maintaining adequate insurance limits if an accident were to occur.
Screening DriversPoor driving behavior is the leading factor in most vehicle accidents. Proper driving is the easiest and most notable way to prevent distractions. We recommend mitigating this effectively by screening and selecting qualified drivers. The North American Division (NAD) Working Policy outlines the criterion that all drivers must meet, including:
- An acceptable driving record during the previous three years
- No accidents resulting in conviction
- Not more than two citations
- Must be at least 21
- Reputation for safe driving habits
- Proper licensing and registration [ii]
Vehicle MaintenanceEnforcing a good vehicle maintenance program is another important strategy to minimize distracted driving. Not only will this help reduce the frequency of accidents, but it can also extend the lifespan of your vehicles.
Each vehicle owned or operated by denominational entities must be inspected and adhere to a regular maintenance schedule. Before using the car, the driver must check the mechanical condition to determine if it is safe.
Our website’s template vehicle inspection form can be used for your records.
A consistent odometer-based maintenance schedule can ensure proper tire pressure, working turn signals, and engine function. Maintenance of your church vehicles may seem tedious; however, it goes a long way in mitigating distracted driving.
15-Passenger Vans and Other Unsafe VehiclesVehicles such as 15-passenger vans should not be used because of their unbalanced load structure and a higher propensity to roll over. This rollover likelihood is not only attributable to 15-passenger vans but also to vehicles that tow a trailer or have more passengers than allowed.
Safe Practices and Managing Driver FatigueWhen driving, it is imperative that drivers avoid eating or drinking, grooming, or texting. Because texting requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention, it is the worst distraction.
A drowsy driver is a distracted driver. When traveling with a group on a long trip, it is crucial to manage driver fatigue. It is a good practice to have an adequate number of drivers for extended trips rather than relying on one person to drive the entire time. Drivers must be well-rested to maintain focus.
We also recommend rotating drivers every two hours. Depending on the size of the vehicle and the accompanying passengers, it may be a good idea to have an additional adult present. Having an adequate number of drivers also aligns with the need for appropriate supervision.
Maintaining Insurance LimitsFollowing these recommendations will help reduce distracted driving; however, we recognize accidents happen. So, it is important to verify that you are insured in the event of an accident. Usually, the minimum car insurance needed is state-required liability coverage. This enables you to pay for injuries and damages that you are liable for in an accident. Individual state requirements vary widely and may also vary for commercial auto coverage.
When purchasing a new vehicle for your church or school, it is critical to insure it as soon as possible, paying attention to appropriate limits. Ensure that the vehicle has comprehensive and collision coverage along with underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage with limits of at least $1,000,000 each. If you opt to use your own car, please keep in mind that your insurance will be primary in the event of an accident.
ConclusionRisk management is all about improved decision-making while avoiding catastrophic loss. Technologies are changing rapidly, and the utilization of driver safety functions has helped reduce accidents, injuries, and deaths. Nonetheless, this does not excuse absent-minded driving. We encourage good stewardship by implementing these guidelines to help fulfill safe driving habits for your ministry.
References[i] NHTSA: TRAFFIC SAFETY FACTS: Research Note. (2021). Crash Stats. Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813111
[ii] Working Policy (2020th–2021st ed.). (2021). [Print]. Pacific Press Publishing Association.
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