British Columbia

Can companies help curb distracted driving?

Teach employees to put down phone, says father who lost son to distracted driving

Clare Hennig - CBC

October 05, 2017

Distracted driving kills more British Columbians than impaired driving, ICBC statistics show. (David Horemans/CBC)

Police across the province are cracking down on cellphone use on the roads but one father who lost his son to distracted driving wants corporations to take a more engaged role in the anti-distracted driving campaign.

David Teater's 12-year-old son was killed in a car accident in 2004 when a woman talking on a cellphone ran a red light. Since the crash, he has used his background as a corporate executive to speak to companies about distracted driving policies.

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"This is going to be more than just telling people to put down phones — we need to look at technology solutions, we need to look at more education," Teater told CBC host of On The Coast Stephen Quinn from his home in Michigan.

Teater said he knows how compelling it can be to pick up the phone behind the wheel and, like any bad habit, takes time to break. Employers have the power to help encourage these new habits, he said.

"I work with companies to put policies in place and then help introduce those policies to their employees to keep people cellphone-free while driving," he said.

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Police across the province are cracking down on cell phone use on the roads and one father who lost his son to distracted driving is advocating for corporations to take a more engaged role in the anti-distracted driving campaign.  11:49

New habits

He said policies like a total ban, where every employee from the chief executive to the professional driver is not permitted to use any form of cellphone while driving a company vehicle — not even hands-free devices — can help reset habits.

"We get employees doing this and they realize that their world doesn't fall apart," he said. "When people do put their phones down and, let's say, they go maybe 30 days without using a phone while driving, they start to develop a new pattern," Teater said.

Distracted driving kills more British Columbians than impaired driving, according to ICBC statistics, and it accounts for nearly 78 deaths on B.C. roads every year.

"You think it will never happen to you," Teater said. "We tend to take it for granted but it's happening every day."

With files from On The Coast. 

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