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NAFA Adopts No-Tolerance Policy on Distracted Driving
NAFA Fleet Management Association, the premier association for the fleet profession – including numerous police departments – recognizes that the life blood of the job is the driver and the act of driving, and that the use of electronic devices while driving is dangerous to everyone on the road.
In October 2015, NAFA will issue the Association’s position statement regarding distracted driving, adopting a strong policy for all of its employees, contractors, and volunteers prohibiting the use of any electronic device – handheld or hands-free – while engaged in the act of driving.
With NAFA’s Law Enforcement segment accounting for roughly 21% of the Association’s membership, alongside the corporate, government, university, and utility segments, this is a significant statement for law enforcement fleet managers and agency administrators. “There are NAFA members in agencies across North America (U.S. and Canada) in both federal, state, and local capacities, which include police fleets like St. Louis & NYPD,” Donald W. Dunphy, NAFA’s Communications Manager told 9-1-1 Magazine.
“There cannot be any ambivalence about our position, no hypocrisy, no loopholes. We are the association for fleet professionals, and so the example has to begin with us,” said NAFA Chief Executive Officer Phillip E. Russo. “Our ‘no devices while driving’ policy has been in effect for two years internally, and now we are extending that insistence to our contractors and partners.”
The use of a cell phone – either handheld or hands-free – while driving makes it four times as likely that a driver will crash, according to The National Safety Council. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a rule banning commercial truck and bus drivers from texting while driving and, by a separate rule in 2011, banned all hand-held cell phone use by commercial drivers; essentially, the fleet industry itself.
As the Coloradoan reported in a news story on April 10, 2015, police officers are not immune to distracted driving. In fact, with the amount of equipment inside their vehicles - Bluetooth-linked smartphones, GPS systems, laptop computers, and touch-screen car radios – tech-related distractions are an increasing factor in vehicle crashes.
“Officers face a steady stream of information while on patrol, some of it potentially life-saving information that needs attention — even while driving,” reported the Coloradoan (screen grab, above). The news site examined 79 crashes since April 1, 2009 in which officers of one Colorado department were found at fault. “The bulk were minor incidents,” noted the news site. “However, seven were due to distracted driving related to officers' on-board computer. Of those seven, three involved hitting another vehicle. Officers were cited twice.” (see story at Coloradoan.com)
In a report posted on PoliceOne.com in December 2014, concerns over distracted driving have prompted Los Angeles County sheriff's officials to propose dramatically curbing use of in-car computers. The move follows months of deliberation by an internal committee and comes one year after a Sheriff's Deputy fatally struck a cyclist while typing on his in-car computer. While stopping short of banning all in-car computer use, the draft policy mandates that radio be "the primary tool" of communication while the vehicle is moving and would eliminate the use of in-car computers for administrative tasks. (See story at policeone.com)
NAFA's position paper is being released in parallel with the official start of Drive Safely Work Week, the annual safety campaign put forth by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). The campaign, which takes place October 5-9, 2015, contains numerous tips for businesses to use to remind their employees about important safety issues. NAFA is proud to help promote the annual campaign and recommends organizations download the free materials available at www.trafficsafety.org for their drivers.
“NAFA recognizes this is a strong stance, and there may be other organizations that will not agree or abide by it, but it is the right step to take,” Russo said. “Change begins with us, and so we have chosen for this to no longer be open to discussion. It’s time to turn off the devices, focus on the task at hand, and bring safety and sanity back to our roads.”
NAFA’s Distracted Driving Position Statement can be downloaded at: www.nafa.org/safety
- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (via NAFA and other sources, 10/1/15)