Minimizing Car Accidents in Your Sales Force

What's the top cause of Worker's Compensation claims for companies in the United States? You guessed it: car accidents. Your sales representatives are out and about driving all day long, so it's in your interest as well as theirs to ensure that they follow appropriate safety protocols to minimize accidents and injuries.

Can you even picture your sales representatives successfully doing sales without a car or without a cell phone? For your sales team, their cars and their cell phones are two of their most valuable pieces of equipment—tools that enable them to communicate with and visit their sales prospects, and make them many times more effective than they would be without these tools.

Unfortunately, while both cars and cell phones are indispensable to sales, combining the two can be dangerous, or even lethal. Regularly taking time during your sales training meetings to review a few sobering statistics and important safety tips can help your sales team stay safe AND productive by using their cars and cell phones responsibly.

The Problem With Cars and Phones

Distracted driving has always been a problem for road safety. Activities like talking to passengers, eating, changing CD’s or radio stations, and personal grooming continue to be a problem for drivers. However, cell phone use while driving is now the Number 1 distraction behind the wheel.

To review a few representative statistics from the state of Texas:

  • In 2013, cell phone use was a contributing factor in more than 1,000 Texas crashes.
  • In 2013, driver inattention was a contributing factor in more than 18,000 Texas crashes.

Certain activities are more likely than others to result in crashes. For example, talking on a cell phone while driving makes you four times more likely to crash. Texting while driving, on the other hand, increases your chances of a crash by 8 to 23 times. Those are pretty serious odds—serious enough to ask your sales representatives to reconsider the way they’ve been using their cell phones while they drive.

It's All In Your Head

To help them understand why distracted driving is such a problem, it’s important to explore with your sales teams how talking on their phones or otherwise distracting themselves hampers their ability to drive safely.

It’s not just about taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel (although those lapses are dangerous enough even on their own). Drivers talking on cell phones miss half of the information in their driving environment, rendering them much less likely to see important things such as:

  • High and low relevant objects
  • Visual cues
  • Exits, red lights and stop signs

As well as missing environmental cues, distracted drivers have a slower response time to cues they do notice, because their attention is directed elsewhere.

Findings from a recent NSC public opinion poll indicate 80% of drivers across America incorrectly believe that hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. While hands-free devices help keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, they don’t address the other significant problem: mental distraction. Remind your sales representatives that even if their eyes are on the road, if their minds are elsewhere they are at risk for accidents. They and the other drivers deserve the safety of their full attention when they're driving.

Staying Safe on the Road

Staying safe may require that your sales representatives plan ahead and modify their current behavior. Brainstorm with your team what they can do to avoid the temptation to reach for their phones while driving. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Turn off wireless phones or other devices before starting the car.
  • Put your phone out of reach (e.g. in the back seat on the floor, in the trunk, etc.) while driving.
  • Pull over to a safe location and put the vehicle in park if you must make a call.
  • Install an app such as Drive Safe Mode that blocks texts and calls while driving.

Make road safety a priority for your team by mentioning it regularly in sales meetings, making road safety checks a part of your ride-along sessions with team members, and even offering small rewards like gift cards or candy bars to sales representatives who have done an especially good job staying off their cell phones while driving.

If you need help with sales training, including the incorporation of safety protocols, contact Netpique sales outsourcing! We have over a decade of experience helping companies like yours with sales training, consulting, and outsourced sales solutions.