WAZAYTA, Minn.- KARE 11's #eyesUP campaign to end distracted driving has put a spotlight on teenage drivers in hopes of changing their behavior behind the wheel. In truth, distracted driving by motorists of ALL ages is an epidemic, and MN-based Cargill is taking a major step in making sure its employees are not part of the problem.
"We're so addicted to our phones because it is the technology that our live resides upon from social life, to financial life, to work life all resides on that phone," said Al Johnson, the Vice President of Environment Health and Safety at Cargill.
Just this year, Cargill enacted a new safety policy for their 200,000 employees and contractors in 66 countries that bans the use of cellphones while behind the wheel.
"Vehicles around the world are the number one leading cause of fatalities for Cargill employees," said Johnson. "So in the past, you could use a cellphone if it was hands free, and today you don't use a cell phone at all."
As soon as employees drive into Cargill's campus they will see signs like this one that reads 'No Cell Phones While Driving' and for employee Matt Purfeerst, a grain farm marketer who spends four days a week behind the wheel. It's that daily reminder he needs to make safer and smarter decisions behind the wheel.
"It's almost scary to see how much distraction there is within the farm economy, and I think now with the new policy, it made you aware of what the dangers are when you do that, when you look at your phone, I think it really made me conscious of what the consequences could be," said Matt.
Although the new policy is creating a positive change, Matt says changing his own behavior has been challenging.
"It was absolutely a challenge because every day we are working with customers and they rely on us, we are only one phone call away but I think once employees got used to it, it is a step but a step in the right direction," said Matt.
"The overall goal is zero, and that zero is harm to people around the world as it relates to distracted driving," said Johnson.