PestSure Blog

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Distracted Driving Takes Center Stage at 2023 PestSure Safety and Loss Prevention Conference


Distracted driving comes in many forms, but cell phone use while driving has become the most prevalent type of distracted driving. And the pest control industry is not exempt from the negative impacts of distracted drivers.

To raise awareness on the topic with pest control business owners and managers and help them identify strategies to mitigate the number of distracted driving incidents and reduce the financial impact that accompanies them, PestSure welcomed more than 100 of its insureds to Memphis, September 27-28 for the captive’s annual Safety and Loss Prevention Conference.

Keynoting the event was Dr. Paul Atchley of the University of South Florida who discussed “The Science Behind Distracted Driving.”

Atchley told attendees multitasking while driving - trying to make a phone call, respond to a text, adjust the radio – all the while staying focused on the road is a myth. While many drivers feel they are capable of multitasking while behind the wheel, Atchley said research and crash statistic data proves otherwise, especially with younger drivers.

“You need your brain to drive safely, and multitasking is an impossible task for the brain,” said Atchley. “And attempting to do it while driving is a recipe for disaster.”

Supporting Atchley’s position is research showing that drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 are involved in the most fatal crashes. There are nearly 1,000 more deaths per year among 25- to 34-year-olds than drivers under 25.

Atchley said to change driver behavior, owners and managers must change attitudes, and that will take work. His recommendations included structuring distracted driving education along the following:

  • Leadership – It starts at the top and filters down - I can do it/you can do it.
  • Education - The why of the change, why we want to eliminate distracted driving
  • Rules - We have rules against driving drunk/alcohol in the work vehicle so why not the same for distracted driving.
  • Monitor for Compliance – Let everyone know phone records will be checked randomly and checked post-accident.
  • Enforcement – Provide training up to and including termination.

“Achieving positive change in safety begins with awareness, and the PestSure Safety and Loss Prevention Conference is not just a gathering—it's a commitment to safeguarding the shared future of not only our insureds but the industry as a whole,” said Todd Burke, COO of PestSure. “By actively pursuing the latest information on safety best practices, especially when it comes to distracted driving, our insureds are fortifying their organizations against the challenges they and their employees face when it comes to creating a safer workplace.”

PestSure members in attendance took away valuable information on safety best practices and connected with industry peers and outside resources that could offer advice on how they tackled similar challenges in their operation.

Michael Maxson, human resources director for Guardian Pest Solutions in Superior, Wisconsin commented on the conference’s education sessions and the information he was taking back to his company.

“In my 30-year career I’ve attended more conferences, safety meetings and other informational events than I can name. Some were larger, some smaller. The PestSure Safety and Loss Prevention Conference was the most informative and the most valuable I’ve ever attended,” said Maxson.

Featured sessions at the two-day event covered a wide array of safety and loss prevention topics impacting pest control professionals. The agenda included:

  • Better Employee Retention – Debbie Taranto (Lloyd Pest Control)
  • Managing Your GPS Data – John Judge (Certus Pest)
  • Employee: Asset or Liability - Abby Thalachelloor, Tate Eperjesi, and Kim Barrett (PestSure/Sedgwick)
  • OSHA Heat Illness - Jay Yarsinske (Terminix)
  • Engaging Leadership in the Safety Battle - Richard Spencer (Arrow Exterminators)
  • Reasonable Suspicion: Understanding Impairment – Michael Barnes (Unique Background Solutions)
  • Situational Awareness - Mark Sheperdigian (Rose Pest Solutions)
  • PestSure Nurse Consultation - Carrie Layton (Sedgwick)
  • PPE They Choose to Use - Sam Kendrick (Arrow Exterminators)

Celebrating 42 years as a valued industry resource, PestSure provides insurance, safety and risk management services and consulting to pest management companies representing $2.6 billion in revenue, $900 million in payroll and over 19,000 service vehicles.

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