March 2017 Safety Coach: Address Driver Behavior with a Work Challenge

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If you ever have wondered why people say nothing good happens late at night, consider this:

In Texas, more fatal crashes occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. than at any other time of the day. What about crash frequency during the week? Or in a given month of the year?

Can you guess the three deadliest days on state roads? If you guessed Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you would be correct and you probably would not be surprised. But did you know the month of March is full of madness?

To be clear, this has nothing to do with a crazy finish to an even crazier basketball game. Rather, it has everything to do with spring break and the three leading causes of traffic fatalities – alcohol, distraction and speeding. I see the light bulb going off as you process this information.

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March 2017 Newsletter: Identify Risks, Plan for Traffic Safety Solutions & You Can Have Last Laugh


Our Driving Concern Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

For more than 30 years, comedian David Letterman entertained late-night TV audiences with his Top Ten lists. He poked fun at everybody and everything. And rare was the occasion when viewers didn’t crack a smile.

For Letterman, the zany antics began with his “Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme with Peas” in September 1985. For me, a top 10 list is a more grounded tool I roll out on occasion when speaking to groups about traffic safety. I use a Letterman-style reverse countdown to highlight why a back-to-basics approach often is best.

Q: Will I catch anyone laughing during one of my talks?

Continue reading March 2017 Newsletter: Identify Risks, Plan for Traffic Safety Solutions & You Can Have Last Laugh

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February 2017 Safety Coach: Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting for Autonomous Vehicles


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To prepare your workforce for the rollout of partially and fully autonomous vehicles, it would be helpful to share some of what is going on right now in the fast-paced world of motor vehicle development.

Did you know a self-driving 18-wheeler is being tested in San Antonio?

Then, it would be helpful to review some of the safety features that already are commonplace in vehicles on our roads today. It’s a win-win for Texas employers. Traffic safety is one of the best ways to save money and save lives.

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February 2017 Newsletter: Safety & Savings: 2 Reasons for Employers to Fight Driver Distraction

Our Driving Concern Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

In Arizona, a proposal to ban texting while driving finally could pass in the state legislature this year, according to a report from The Associated Press. What about Texas? In November, Rep. Tom Craddick (Midland) filled a bill to create a traffic violation for smartphone use while driving – the fourth session in a row he has filled such a bill.

Q: Why should Texas employers care?

A: Texas employers are positioned to lead the way in changing driver behavior, and it is in their best interest to do just that. About one-quarter of all traffic crashes today can be attributed to distracted driving, whether it is pulling a burger out of a white paper bag, peeking in the rearview mirror to apply mascara or making use of an electronic device while behind the wheel.

Continue reading February 2017 Newsletter: Safety & Savings: 2 Reasons for Employers to Fight Driver Distraction

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January 2017 Safety Coach: Earn an ‘A’ for Focusing on the Four D’s of Impaired Driving

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Nearly 10 people die every day in crashes on Texas roads. Nearly one-third of those deaths involve a driver who is under the influence of alcohol.

The impact of deadly crashes is felt not only by family members of victims but also by Texas employers. Employers absorb the brunt of costs associated with crashes whether they occur on or off the job.

Nationwide, employers spend more than $6 billion annually on alcohol-involved crashes, according to a report from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. And crashes cost employers more than 1.6 million work days each year.

Lost work days = lost production.

What employers need to know is impaired driving is not isolated to alcohol. True, impairment begins with the first drink. True, mental faculties such as judgment are the first to be diminished. This can make it difficult for a driver to reason and respond in an emergency situation.

It is also true taking over-the-counter or prescription medications can put drivers at risk. Safe driving requires comprehension, concentration, coordination and quick reflexes. Drugs (including marijuana) affect all of these skills.

Employers are positioned to be key players in changing driver behavior through efforts in promoting traffic safety. And it is in their best interest to do so because they can save money and save lives.

In 2015, there were 13,616 injury crashes in Texas with 17,011 people sustaining a serious injury, according to data from the Texas Department of Transportation. While many of these injuries are sustained in incidents that occur during the work day or during a driver’s commute to-and-from work, the majority of crashes are of the “off-the-clock” and “off-the-job” variety.

Employers still pay through costs associated with employee benefits, from insurance premiums to workers’ compensation claims. The ideal to share with your employees: An impaired driver is a dangerous driver. And, to earn an “A” on your report card, focus on the “four D’s” – drunk, drugged, drowsy and distracted driving. Let us help with free resources:

Tailgate Talk

Risks of Distraction Weigh Heavily on Your Bottom Line

About 1 in 5 crashes in Texas involves distraction – a form of impaired driving.
Gather your employees for a quick Tailgate Talk and ask: How do you define distracted driving?

When folks are done shouting out their own ideas, share this answer from our Safety Coach cards: Distraction occurs any time you take your:

  • Eyes off the road
  • Hands off the wheel
  • Mind off your primary task, driving safely

Chances are you know somebody who engages in personal grooming while behind the wheel. Or regularly reaches for something to eat. Or manipulates dashboard controls as part of the process of programming a GPS device. All are risky driving behaviors.

Often, drivers who take risks and arrive at their destinations without incident cling to a false belief that they are better drivers than others around them on the road. The reality is they are lucky unsafe drivers.

In 2015, there were 105,783 crashes in Texas that involved distracted driving, up 9.5% from 2014, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Cell phone use and driver inattention were cited in 396 fatal crashes, 2,324 incapacitating crashes and 10,191 non-incapacitating crashes.

Texas A&M Transportation Institute research indicates reaction times double when drivers are distracted by text messaging. Hands-free technologies often put drivers in a state of cognitive distraction. Potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Inattention blindness can cause drivers to miss up to half the information in their driving environment. Our resources are created to help you help others regain their focus:

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January 2017 Newsletter: Change Your Vocabulary: Save the Word ‘Accident’ for Potty Training

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Our Driving Concern Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

Accident is a word we all use. Most often the connotation is that of, “oops.”Potty training

Q: Do you think “oops” captures the tone and feel of a traffic crash?

A: No? Then, now is the time to change your vocabulary and your messaging at your workplace. “Oops” sounds like what a parent might say to a child who did not quite make it to the bathroom on time during those potty training days.

More than 90% of traffic crashes are the result of driver error – and are preventable. Distracted, drugged, drunk and drowsy driving are some of the issues that have led to a spike in traffic crashes across America. The National Safety Council estimates traffic fatalities rose 9% in the first half of 2016. And that estimate followed on the heels of an 8% increase from 2014 to 2015.

Continue reading January 2017 Newsletter: Change Your Vocabulary: Save the Word ‘Accident’ for Potty Training

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December 2016 Newsletter: Play Santa: Give the Gift of Traffic Safety During the Holiday Season

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Our Driving Concern Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

Don’t let getting busted for drunk driving become one of your holiday memories.

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That message is shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a part of its holiday season drunk driving prevention campaign.

Q: What can Texas employers do to spread the word? Why is it important for them to do so?

A: When employers make transportation safety a part of their daily culture of safety, they can save money and save lives. Texas employers spend more than $3 billion every year as a result of on and off the job traffic crash injuries and fatalities. Eating and drinking are a part of holiday merriment. Holiday travel turns deadly because so many drunk drivers are on the road.

During the 2014-2015 holiday season (Dec. 1, 2014, to Jan. 1, 2015), Texas Department of Transportation crash data indicates there were:

  •  2,411 alcohol-related traffic crashes, resulting in 190 serious injuries and 110 fatalities

Continue reading December 2016 Newsletter: Play Santa: Give the Gift of Traffic Safety During the Holiday Season

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November 2016 Newsletter: Business Case: Four Reasons to Use an Employee Traffic Safety Program

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Our Driving Concern Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

Surprisingly, not all business owners recognize that the deadliest issue for theirfinancial concept, business and money employees is also one of the priciest. Crashes cost employers $47 billion annually and 1.6 million work days each year.

Q: What can you do about it?

A: As a business owner, you know how important it is to understand what impacts your bottom line and to find cost-effective solutions to remain competitive. The Our Driving Concern Program (ODC) is a free traffic safety program designed for employers by the National Safety Council and funded through the Texas Department of Transportation. Here – in condensed form – are four reasons why it makes sense for you to take advantage of our program:

Reason #1: Don’t accept accidents as the “cost of doing business”

The most dangerous part of the day for employees is the time they spend in their vehicle. While Texans look at the increasing strain of traffic congestion, many don’t realize that about 90% of crashes are the result of human error and, therefore, can be prevented.

Continue reading November 2016 Newsletter: Business Case: Four Reasons to Use an Employee Traffic Safety Program

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October 2016 Newsletter: Let Us Help Reduce Your Risks, Manage Your Operating Costs

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Our Driving Concern Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

You have heard it said before: Work smarter, not harder.

Q: How do I do that? And how is traffic safety part of the answer?

A: This is something I talk about at various conferences around the state. In theseOdds of Dying CTA - Poisoning difficult economic times, I am hearing from employers that are making cuts in the area of safety. This is concerning to me. I realize why this is happening as it is not always easy to see the value when you invest in safety like you would with additional sales. Company leaders focus on profit and generating revenue – and rightfully so – but sometimes become caught up in their day-to-day operational duties. As a result, they tend to overlook the impact of safety on their bottom line.

And I have come to the realization traffic safety is not always on a company’s radar until it is too late. One of the best ways to keep operating expenses low is to reduce risk. Driving – whether it is on the job, during a commute to-and-from the workplace or simply on a trip for groceries – is one of the riskiest activities your employees engage in on a daily basis.

Continue reading October 2016 Newsletter: Let Us Help Reduce Your Risks, Manage Your Operating Costs

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September 2016 Safety Coach: Danger of Letting Guard Down Captured in ‘The Unseen’

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Let’s clear up this misconception right here, right now: You are alone behind the wheel. You are not free to let your guard down.

A new video produced by AT&T shocks viewers when they watch a manodc-the-unseen-snip-2 described as a typically responsible father fall victim to the dangers posed by distracted driving. The father might as well be one of your employees. And you easily could substitute a mother in the lead role here to further broaden the horizon of this discussion.

“The Unseen” concludes with what AdvertisingAge calls a supernatural turn. Dad thinks he is alone in his vehicle, picks up his phone and … bam! In that split second, a family’s life is changed. From an employer’s perspective, your budget might as well be busted, too.

Nationwide, employers spend $8.2 billion every year on distracted driving incidents, according to a report from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. Texas employers spend more than $3 billion a year as a result of on and off the job injuries and fatalities.

Most disturbing of all is the fact 82% of Americans feel the most pressure to drive distracted from those dearest to their hearts, family members, according to results of a public opinion poll released by the National Safety Council.

Here are four ideas to address distracted driving at your workplace:

Tailgate Talk

Miles to Go, Places to Start on Battle vs. Distracted Driving

In Ben Kelly’s FairWarning commentary, Miles to Go on Highway Safety, he ends with a cautionary tale from former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Joan Claybrook.

To paraphrase, she says, if there are no rules for adequately testing self-drivingit-can-wait-retry-2 technology before it becomes a highway reality, motorists like the driver in the fatal Tesla autopilot crash will become unwitting guinea pigs in the trial-and-error evolution of automated vehicles.

The bit of irony to share with your workforce in a traffic safety huddle is this: Technology one day holds the promise of solving problems created by technology. Until the bugs are ironed out, the best advice to share with your employees can be summed up nicely using words such as alert and attentive and sharing catch phrases such as eyes up, phone down.

Know this about hands-free technology and driving: The brain quickly toggles between two tasks – but can’t do two things at the same time. According to the National Safety Council, the activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to one-third when listening to talking on a phone. Drivers looking out the windshield can miss seeing up to 50% of what’s around them when talking on ANY KIND of a cell phone.

Make use of our Safety Coach cards to quickly test employees’ knowledge while in the field. Example: Name five ways to avoid potential distractions while driving:

  • Don’t drive while calling or texting
  • Keep your phone secure
  • Don’t reach for anything while driving
  • Don’t eat or drink while driving
  • Groom yourself at home

On social media, the Texas Department of Transportation provides one more suggestion to alleviate concerns associated with distracted driving: Use Snapchat or the latest update to the Facebook app to create iPhone wallpaper. Superimpose a text reminder over a photo of a loved one: It Can Wait.

30 Seconds from AT&T: The road is full of people whose lives are at risk the second you take your eyes off the road to look at your phone.

 

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