1 Billion Miles to Safety

By Cynthia Sularz

February 4, 2019

Many Americans drive every day while on the job or during a commute.  Over time, we don’t even think about the actions we perform while driving. It simply becomes second nature to us, and safe driving may take a backseat.  However, transportation accidents continued to be the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the U.S. during 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLR) National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. 

In the BLR’s December 19, 2017 News Release, transportation-related injuries in 2016 accounted for 40% of total workplace fatalities, a 1.4% increase from 2015.  Approximately 24% of total occupational fatalities during 2016 resulted from roadway incidents alone.  Motor vehicle accidents are preventable.  You can improve your employees’ awareness of safe driving by sharing the 5 following practices.

 1 – Keep Vehicles Maintained, Including Safety Devices

Vehicles run and respond best when kept in optimal working condition.  This includes all safety devices present on or within the vehicle.  Share the items below with employees to promote greater mindfulness around vehicle maintenance.  

  • Make sure all lights illuminate and are not obscured.
  • Keep mirrors & lights clean for best visibility.
  • Ensure the horn, signal lights, and hazard lights function properly to alert other drivers of your presence, lane changes, etc.
  • Stay on top of overall preventative vehicle maintenance, including tires, brakes, and steering system.
  • Have and regularly check your emergency roadside kit. Check out these commercial truck auctions.

Best Practices:  Include the above items on a mandatory pre-operational vehicle checklist.  Strictly adhere to the manufacturers’ preventative maintenance schedule for vehicles.

2 – Maintain Focus When Driving by Avoiding Distractions

Distractions can bombard us while we are driving.  It does not matter whether we are alone or in the car with others.  Individuals can avoid distracted driving and keep their focus by implementing a few good habits:

  • Don’t read or send texts while driving. Don’t talk unless it is handsfree.
  • Refrain from performing personal tasks like putting on makeup, eating, drinking, etc. while behind the wheel.
  • Avoid diverting your eyes from the road to switch radio stations/CD/DVDs or to use your navigational system.
  • Steer clear of intense or loud interactions with other persons in the vehicle.

Best Practices:  Put your phone out of sight while driving.  Pull off and park your car if you need to text or talk.  Take care of any personal grooming, eating, or drinking before you get behind the wheel.  Program your navigation system before starting your trip.  Use your steering wheel controls for the infotainment system so your gaze can stay on the road.  Encourage passengers to keep conversations light, upbeat, and at an appropriate noise level.

3 – Seat Belts, Seat Belts, Seat Belts!

Did you know over 108,000 vehicle occupants (drivers and passengers) died in motor vehicle accidents between 2007 and 2016?1 Proper seat belt use greatly lowers the risk of fatal injury should an accident occur.  Yet 15 states had seat belt usage rates less than 85% in 2016.2  Any employee awareness training on safe driving is incomplete if a discussion on seat belt use is missing.

  • Make certain seat belts are in good working order.
  • Ensure the number of occupants does not exceed the number of seat belts within the vehicle.
  • Always wear your seat belt when the vehicle is moving. It is unlawful in many states to drive without wearing a seat belt.

Best Practices: Form a habit of buckling your seat belt before you start the vehicle’s engine.  Keep the car in park until you have confirmed that all passengers have secured their belts.

 4 – Drive Defensively and Keep Aggression in Check

Driving is really a team sport.  You as a driver as trusting the drivers around you to operate their vehicles in a responsible manner, and they are expecting the same from you.  However, some drivers do not always play well with others.  This may lead to frustration and even anger in the other drivers sharing the road.    The following defensive safe driving habits can help drivers avoid potential accident situations and keep their composure.

  • Obey all traffic laws and use your signals, horns, and lights when appropriate to alert other drivers to your intended actions.
  • Stay aware of others around you. Pay close attention to pedestrians, non-motorized vehicles, signals, speed changes, and reckless behaviors.
  • Actively think about your next driving steps behind the wheel, including possible ways to avoid danger.
  • Maintain a proper following distance from the vehicle in front of you. You never know when you may need that distance to stop your car.
  • Keep your anger in check even when drivers around you are not driving courteously. Don’t let others poor behavior affect your safe driving habits. 

Best Practices: Glance in your rear view, left side, and right side mirrors every 5-10 seconds.   Maintain at least one car length in following distance for every 10 mph of speed your vehicle is traveling (60 mph = 6 car lengths).  Larger vehicles should increase this distance, as they need greater distances to stop.  Don’t drive when you are distressed; you may make unsafe driving decisions and/or experience unreasonable anger (i.e., road rage) in response to others poor driving.  

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