Written by Spencer McDonald


Meeting Leader:

  • Prepare in advance to make this meeting effective.  Click HERE for a link to instructions on how to best use this information.
  • Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a pdf version here).
  • Think about how you want to lead the meeting.
  • Is there anything that is specific to your company or operation that you can include to personalize the information?
  • Review the video for this session.

Video Template

NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample. Get the ‘clean’ video for your meeting now by visiting the Tailgate Topics & Tips page on the Thinking Driver website to get the order form and fax/email to Thinking Driver (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). We will send you a link to the non-watermarked video.

  • Save the link to the video in your favourites folder on your browser for easy access.
  • Open and then minimize the viewer just before the meeting to make the video introduction smooth.



Did you know...

  • Distractions were a factor in 20 – 30% of all vehicle crashes; and
  • You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash if you are texting.

The Questions for this Meeting:

What is the definition of a driving distraction?



A distraction while driving is defined as:

A diversion of attention from the driving task not related to impairment from alcohol, fatigue or medical condition.

Diversion occurs because the driver is temporarily focusing on an object, task, event or person not related to the driving task.

Diversion reduces a driver’s situational awareness, decision-making and/or performance which increases the risk of:

  • Collisions
  • Near-collisions
  • Necessary corrective action

How many distractions can you identify?


Answers could be:

  • Cell phones
  • Eating
  • Pets
  • Passengers
  • Events outside the vehicle unrelated to driving (billboards, pedestrians, storefronts, fires or other emergencies, accidents)Distractions
  • GPS or other navigational aids like maps
  • Sound systems
  • Video!!!
  • Makeup and personal grooming like shaving
  • How many more???

The biggest culprit currently is the mobile device.

Traffic Injury Research Foundation September 2011 survey stated:


  • 36.3% of drivers admit to using their cell phone in last 7 days while driving.  62.2% used them for 10 minutes or less (2011)

Compared to the same survey conducted in 2001 which stated:

  • 20.5% used them in 2001.  57.5% used them for 10 minutes or less (2001)
  • More people are using phones but for shorter periods.


Is mobile use prohibited in your area?  If so, what is the penalty for mobile device use in your jurisdiction? (Leader, check before session.)

For United States legislation, click here.

For Canadian legislation, click here.

(If your organization has policies regarding this issue, discuss them now.)

Tailgate Tips:

It doesn’t matter how good a driver you are, you cannot manage all of the tasks already associated with driving safely with added distraction.

Try these strategies:


  • If you are unable to ignore your mobile device, turn it off or put it in the glove-box or trunk until you reach your destination.  Then even if your initial good intentions are challenged, by a ringing phone or message alert, you will be unable to surrender to temptation.
  • Don’t cheat or fool yourself that checking the texts while stopped at a red light is okay.
  • Change your voicemail message to one noting that you may be driving and will return the call later.
  • Plan to eat before leaving and set aside enough time.
  • Take a break and walk into a fast food outlet instead of doing the drive thru.
  • Program your GPS before leaving and use the voice directions so that you minimize screen time.
  • Put on your makeup, shave and finish getting ready for work before you leave home, not on the way!
  • Focus on the driving task and not related events, scenery or attractions.
  • Plan to STAY FOCUSED on driving even when other distractions compete for your attention.
  • How many more can you identify?  What is your personal solution?

Introduce the Video:

Spencer McDonald discusses the importance of driving without distractions.


Practical Challenge:

For this week, turn off your mobile device as you get in the car and ensure that it remains off whenever you are on the road!

Refrain from other distracting activities or observations.

Download a pdf version, of this meeting planner, HERE!

Spencer McDonald

President and founder of Thinking Driver,  Spencer McDonald, has over 25 years of experience in designing driver safety training curriculums and instructor development. He has driver safety qualifications in all vehicle types and expertise in psychology, education, training and motivation that uniquely qualifies him to develop the attitude-based Thinking Driver programs. 

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It could kill them if you don't

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The Thinking Driver Program was created by Spencer McDonald, driver psychology and counseling specialist to improve driver attitudes and reduce aggressive driving and fleet incident rates.

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