Risk Insider: Dwayne Eastwood

Corporate Risks of Distracted Driving

By: | March 2, 2015 • 2 min read

Dwayne M. Eastwood, MBA, ARM, CSP, CFPS, CEAS III, is the risk manager for McCoy’s Building Supply, a building supply retailer with 87 locations. He received a B.S. in Fire Protection and Safety from Oklahoma State University and earned his MBA from Howard Payne University. He can be reached at [email protected]

In high school, I drove a car to and from a part-time job. My father warned me to stay away from drivers under the influence. One night, I was at a stoplight next to someone and glanced over. It was then I realized I had no idea if he was under the influence or not. The next day, I asked my father how to identify another driver who may be under the influence.

He said, the driver will not maintain a consistent speed and will not keep the vehicle centered in the lane. If you use those same indicators today, that driver will most likely be talking on a hand-held cellular devise or texting. While that seems rather dramatic, more and more federal, state and local laws are being passed across our country.

Companies not only need to help their drivers comply, but companies need to protect themselves.

In a recent news story, a man was cited for eating a hamburger while driving.

A wide sweeping change for the country came from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration – Department of Transportation (DOT). The regulations outline penalties for those drivers with a commercial driver license. Those penalties include civil penalties up to $2,750 and driver disqualification for multiple offenses.

The company is also required to restrict the use of texting or use of a cell phone, and may be subject to civil penalties up to $11,000. However, DOT allows the use of a hands-free device.

What is the risk?

According to DOT, the odds of being involved in a crash, near crash or lane deviation are 23.2 times greater for the drivers who are texting than those who are not. Texting drivers take their eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds. Drivers dialing a cell phone are six times greater than those who are not to be involved in a safety incident.

According to the National Safety Council, one in four vehicle crashes are a result of using a hand-held cell phone.

What is a distraction while driving a vehicle? Distracted driving not only pertains to texting or talking on a cell phone but to many other distractions, which include eating, drinking and reaching for something out of reach.

Never stare at an object for more than a second or two. Scan the roadway including mirrors constantly to identify hazards.

In a recent news story, a man was cited for eating a hamburger while driving. That law reads, in part: “A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.”

Bottom line, legislation is changing from community to community. It is getting more and more difficult to determine if there is a distracted driving law in effect or not while driving and the definition of distracted driving according to the law.

It is extremely important for a company to prepare a policy statement and educate all employees of what that policy is and the penalties that may follow.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]