Distracted Driving and 360 Walkaround

Several years ago, I heard a story of a man who was watching his young son riding his bike up and down the street as he sat on the front porch. In what should have been an uneventful moment, his son’s shoe came untied and he jumped off his bike to retie it. In a matter of seconds, the neighbor’s car began to back out of their driveway, unaware that his son was directly behind them! He was powerless to intervene. Thankfully, his son was only shaken, this became a pivotal moment in their lives.



From that we began to research the number of “first movement” accidents that occur on a yearly basis. I was astounded to find more than 25% of all vehicle accidents are the result of improper backing technique. As I delved deeper into my research, I learned there are more than 500,000 backing related accidents occurring each year, more than 15,000 of those accidents result in bodily injury, and 500 of those ending in death. Worst of all, a majority of those deaths were small children, just like his son. Years before I recalled my younger cousins who lived in Oklahoma and were playing with trucks just behind the rear bumper of the family car. Their mom needed to run to the market and quickly jumped into the car and began backing. Unfortunately she backed over one of her sons playing within 10 feet of her. This fatality was a terrible event for the family as whole.

The severity of these incidents can be tragic, however this can be mitigated by simply slowing down and performing a 360 walk-around looking under and around for anything that will impact the vehicle. First Movement and Back-In parking are all designed to help reduce the risks of having such issues. The image below many will recognize from years ago. The little girl found hiding in the wheel well of a truck, luckily the driver properly performed the 360 and noticed her crying and hiding in the tire wheel well. In this instance, all turned out well.

Equally dangerous and important is the ever growing problem of distracted driving. Some example distractions might be:

  • Looking at cell phone and or texting
  • Playing with radio
  • Confrontations with passengers
  • Fatigue from lack of sleep
  • Alcohol
  • Reading books or watching videos
  • Eating food

It is easy to read this article and think we all have heard the same message over and over about distracted driving, …which is true. But the one thing no one can do is reverse time and fix a tragedy due to texting, falling asleep or other distracted driving habits. Let us do our best to keep an eye out for those passing you on the road, parked at a Stop Light or driving along beside you. Your awareness might make a big difference in preventing a cascading event.

As a firefighter, I respond to several MVA's (Motor Vehicle Accidents) per week and unfortunately distracted driving is suspect as a causal factor in the event. So much damage to property and lives due to lack of proper attention. I’m always amazed as a society, we rely on a painted yellow line in the center of the road to separate two cars heading directly at one another at 60-70 mph with a separation distance of maybe 10', if all goes well. Any distraction can close that distance in milliseconds.

Lastly, these same topics are important for the Oil & Gas industry. We should keep in mind these same rules working on the ROW. Operators shall not operate a phone while tracking a dozer or track hoe or while supporting a suspended load (Ex. performing a tie-in). Back-In parking rules are highly supported on the ROW even today by most companies. And remind employees to keep a distance from equipment idling, you never know when the operator will immediately back or move forwards. We have all heard of stories where employees were napping in the shade of a Dozer or Trac Hoe and fall sleep. And unfortunately some have gotten ran over or crushed.  We all have stories from our own experiences, just remain diligent as this topic is one that truly impacts you and your family.

Remain diligent to support these basic efforts and it will serve you and your family well. Those little eyes at home see and remember how you go about performing a 360 and focused driving.

Below we have linked a few videos to share with your teenage son or daughter as well others to help drive the conversation home.


We are pleased to announce that we have partnered up with Boot Barn to offer all Applied Consultants inspectors a 15% discount on all purchases “work related” from the Boot Barn, Nation Wide. Be sure to tell them you work for Applied Consultants and use the key word: “Safety First” to receive the discount. 


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