A church leader has many responsibilities, one of which is keeping congregation members safe during church activities. As not all of these activities are on-site, there may be times when driving to an event is necessary. Whether the travel is done in a church-owned vehicle or a volunteer’s car, it is the church’s responsibility that traveling members arrive at their destination safely.
The dangers of distracted driving are evident, and with the increased use of technology, it’s easier than ever to lose focus of the road. According to www.distraction.gov, approximately 660,000 drivers are using their cell phones while driving at any given moment across America. Additionally, in 2013, over three thousand people were killed in distracted driving crashes. That’s why it’s more important than ever to take the proper precautions when driving for your church.
Consider establishing a policy for drivers for church-related activities, including prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving. Instead, drivers should be guided to pull over at a safe stopping place, such as a rest stop, or wait until they have reached their destination to use the phone. Alternatively, designate another person in the vehicle to handle any cell phone communications during the trip.
Eating and Drinking
Extended trips or many miles behind the wheel can result in the driver eating their meals and snacks while driving. While the intention may be to get everyone to their destination as quickly as possible, doing so could have deadly consequences, as drivers are one and a half times more likely to crash while eating. Because of the safety concerns, it is recommended churches establish a policy prohibiting drivers from eating or drinking while driving for church-related activities.
Navigating the Road
It is the driver’s responsibility to know where the group is headed and how to get there. Today, with the various smart phone apps and GPS units, it’s easier than ever to map out your route, but it’s still important to keep your eyes and mind on the road when driving. Drivers should become familiar with their route before they leave for the trip, and entering destination information into a navigation system should be completed before departing.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 100,000 police-reported automobile accidents are due to driver fatigue each year. Drowsiness can have the same effects on drivers as intoxication, including slower reaction times, reduced vigilance and deficits in information processing. To help your drivers avoid becoming sleepy at the wheel, ensure drivers are well-rested before beginning a trip, and consider making rest stops every two to three hours. Also, limit the maximum number of hours a single driver can operate a vehicle in a day to eight to 10 hours
While they help make the trip more enjoyable, other people in the vehicle also can be distractions. It’s important to review the trip safety guidelines with all passengers, especially when traveling with children and youth. These guidelines should include, remaining in their seats at all times with seat belts fastened, no horseplay in the vehicle, no shouting or excessive noise, and no distracting the driver with words or actions.
If you are driving for the church, you have not only been tasked with transporting members to an event, but also with keeping them out of harm’s way. This responsibility should not be taken lightly. Practicing safe, undistracted driving significantly reduces your chances of being in an accident or other incident on the road. Keep those in your care safe by pledging to drive without distractions. For more information, visit www.distraction.gov.