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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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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December 2016 Safety Coach: You Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Take the Wheel for Good Reason

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One-third of all fatal crashes are the result of incidents involving drunk driving.Close-up face Cute pug puppy dog sleeping on laminate floor Now, there is new research that indicates lack of sleep leads to drunk driving-like episodes on the roads.

Drivers who miss 1-2 hours of sleep nearly double their risk for crash, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. So, not only are some drivers impaired by alcohol and others distracted by smartphone technology, still others are physically unable to focus on the task at hand because they are nodding off while behind the wheel.

This is important to recognize because you want to protect yourself, your loved ones and others around you on the road by staying alert and ready to respond at a moment’s notice. You never know if/when the guy next to you is going to inch into your lane or if you are about to encounter some type of unexpected hazard (such as debris in the road).

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November 2016 Safety Coach: Alcohol, Medications & Shift Work Linked to Drowsy Driving

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More than 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems, according toOvertime research from the National Institutes of Health. Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, can be serious enough to interfere with an employee’s well-being and can lead to episodes of drowsy driving.

The good news: Doctors can treat most sleep disorders effectively.

Drowsy driving is preventable, too. The best way to steer clear of this kind of trouble is to get enough sleep. Unfortunately, 70% of adults reported getting less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights in a National Sleep Foundation poll.

Seven hours is considered the benchmark for adults. But it’s not only sleep-deprived adults who are behind the mounting concern over drowsy driving. This phenomenon also is brought on by items such as alcohol consumption, taking prescription medications and the disruption of one’s body clock, often a symptom of shift work.

About 15% of full-time employees in the U.S. work on shifts (outside the usual 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. work hours), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Others who are at risk of drowsy driving and fatigue-related incidents include:

  • Workers who perform a task for extended periods or repeatedly perform a tedious task
  • Parents and caregivers of very young children

National Sleep Foundation research indicates:

  • 1 out of 10 drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year
  • 1 out of 8 crashes that require hospitalization is due to drowsy driving
  • 1 out of 6 fatal crashes is a direct result of drowsy driving

Take action at your workplace to protect your employees and protect your bottom line. Launch a pledge initiative against drowsy driving.

Tailgate Talk

Head-Bobbing is a Game for Apples, Not Driving

Be honest: You know what it means to experience a “micro-sleep” – that head-snapping, head-bobbing feeling that comes before you quit fighting and finallybobbing for apples anyone? close your eyes and nod off.

If you’re behind the wheel, that experience can turn deadly.

In Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do, the Governors Highway Safety Association reports nearly 83.6 million sleep-deprived motorists are driving every day.

The cost? In 2015, an estimated 5,000 lives were lost in drowsy driving-related incidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Americans spent $109 billion for fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes, not including property damage.

Rick and Scout and all of our friends at MyCarDoesWhat say there is technology in some vehicles that can detect if you’re drowsy and give you a warning. But the best advice if you’re tired:

  • Don’t drive, pull over
  • Get some rest (research indicates a 20-minute nap will remedy drowsiness, at least temporarily)
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage (coffee or cola)

While technology can help, the thing to know is this: You are your best safety feature. On long trips, rotate drivers and map out rest areas.

Three Resources to Share:

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Drowsy Driving: Bobbing is for Apples, Not Drivers

Be honest: You know what it means to experience a “micro-sleep” – that head-snapping, head-bobbing feeling that comes before you quit fighting and finally close your eyes and nod off.

If you’re behind the wheel, that experience can turn deadly.

In Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do, the Governors Highway Safety Association reports nearly 83.6 million sleep-deprived motorists are driving every day.

The cost? In 2015, an estimated 5,000 lives were lost in drowsy driving-related incidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Americans spent $109 billion for fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes, not including property damage.

Rick and Scout and all of our friends at MyCarDoesWhat say there is technology in some vehicles that can detect if you’re drowsy and give you a warning. But the best advice if you’re tired:

  • Don’t drive, pull over
  • Get some rest (research indicates a 20-minute nap will remedy drowsiness, at least temporarily)
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage (coffee or cola)

While technology can help, the thing to know is this: You are your best safety feature. On long trips, rotate drivers and map out rest areas.

Two Resources to Share

 

 

 

 

 

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September 2016 Newsletter: When it Comes to Traffic Safety Risks, Employers Can’t Afford to Phone It In

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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:

Does it seem like employees are always distracted by their cell phones while atNo Clowing Around Poster-1 work? How often do you see someone who has their face buried in their phone? Way too often, I would imagine, so I’m sure you will be able to relate to this scenario.

In Phone Down, Eyes Up, a public service announcement produced by Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 in partnership with Ford’s Driving Skills for Life and the Governors Highway Safety Association, we are introduced to Kyle and Melanie.

And then we are introduced to the special relationship they have with their phones. Suffice it to say the two spend nearly every waking minute with their phones. Do you know people like that at your workplace?

Q: I am concerned about those who drive as part of their job and also concerned about all of our employees and their families. How do I talk with my employees about the traffic safety risks posed by using handheld and hands-free devices while behind the wheel? And what about dashboard infotainment systems?  Do I include information on this in my safety talks?

Continue reading September 2016 Newsletter: When it Comes to Traffic Safety Risks, Employers Can’t Afford to Phone It In

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August 2016 Newsletter: Singin’ and Driving in the Rain: Oh, What a Glorious Feeling … Until …

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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:

Singing in the rain is one thing. Driving in the rain is another. In 2015, the Texas Department of Transported tracked 77,883 crashes statewide that occurred when road surface conditions were reported as wet.Horizontal lightning storm in Texas

Four hundred and seven people were killed and another 1,716 suffered incapacitating injuries.

Our job and job responsibilities continue in the rain, sleet, snow, etc. Employees still drive to and from work as well as do their jobs that may require driving as a part of the job. This can increase risk significantly for the employer.

Q: How often should employers talk with employees about basic driving skills? About driving in the rain?

A: Since motor vehicle crashes remain the #1 cause of unintentional occupational deaths, the answer here is best thought of in terms of another question: When is it not a good idea to talk about traffic safety? Employers pay for the cost of injuries and fatalities whether crashes occur on or off the job.

Continue reading August 2016 Newsletter: Singin’ and Driving in the Rain: Oh, What a Glorious Feeling … Until …

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July 2016 Safety Coach: Young Pups Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks and Vice Versa

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In a recent issue of The Prospector, a student publication at the University of Texas El Paso, reporter Christian Vasquez details how “DWI will cost you more than a mug shot.”Going Out Tonight?

Lessons learned by those still in school are applicable to those in the workforce, too.

Impaired driving is the main ingredient in a recipe for roadway disaster. The associated costs run the gamut from fines — which can amount to $17,000 or more — and jail time to crash fatalities and injuries. And, then, there is public humiliation.

“Honestly, you feel like a huge loser, and you feel like a huge disappointment to everyone in your life,” said one UTEP student in recounting the impact after he was arrested for DWI.

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March 2016 Newsletter: Sorting Through Mixed Messages of Distracted Driving

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

Question: How do you make heads or tails out of new vehicle technologies and distracted driving?Understanding the Distracted Brain

Answer: Knowledge is power.

Survey says: Most people are unaware of the cognitive distractions associated with using the hands-free and voice control features that come standard today in many newer vehicles. In fact, in a poll conducted by the National Safety Council, 80% of respondents said they believe hands-free devices are safer than handheld, and 53% said that voice control features are safer because they’re provided in vehicles. Because they’re provided? Hmm …

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February 2016 Safety Coach: Cost of Drowsy Driving & Who is Most at Risk

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Ready for your morning wake-up call? According to a survey conducted by theDrowsy Driver Safety Coach Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 25 adult drivers (age 18 or older) reported falling asleep while driving in the 30 days before they were questioned.

If you’re not already alarmed, then consider the findings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA estimates 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

And NHTSA says these figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness. (There is no test to determine sleepiness as there is for intoxication – a breathalyzer test).

Continue reading February 2016 Safety Coach: Cost of Drowsy Driving & Who is Most at Risk

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