July 2017 Newsletter: Our Driving Concern is Your Drafting Tool for Writing Traffic Safety Book

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

At Our Driving Concern, we work with employers to promote safe driving practices among their employees, both on and off the job.

Q: Still, I am asked from time-to-time, what exactly is this program and what is it about?

A: Think of Our Driving Concern as your table of contents and you are writing the book that goes with the table of contents. We provide the framework and resources for you to develop a traffic safety program at your workplace at no cost. Our materials are designed to fit nearly every situation and nearly every work environment – big, small, public and private.

From Our Driving Concern, everybody can find tools to put in their toolbox. The aim is to address transportation safety in the workplace and to reach 100% of your employees. You have the ability to take the materials and make them meet your needs. We update materials and produce new resources on a regular basis, including our eNewsletters, webinars, on-line learning modules, safety coach cards and print materials.

Continue reading July 2017 Newsletter: Our Driving Concern is Your Drafting Tool for Writing Traffic Safety Book

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Choose Carefully: ‘Accident’ is a Word for Potty Training

Accidents often occur by chance or without apparent or deliberate cause. Crashes typically are the result of driver error. Incidents involving distracted, drunk, drugged and drowsy driving have led to a surge in crashes across America. All can be linked to behavior choices. Our Driving Concern Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson suggests you point out that not-so-subtle difference when talking with employees about the importance of traffic safety.

 

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May 2017 Safety Coach: How to Combat the Rise of Drug-Impaired Driving

Safety Coach

Employees drive to-and-from work and may drive as part of their job. Drugged-impaired driving is on the rise.

This message rings loud and clear in a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association — Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States. GHSA said drugs were found in 43% of drivers tested in fatal crashes vs. 37% in alcohol-involved fatal crashes.

What you need to know is drugs – including the over-the-counter variety and prescription medications – can impact your employees’ ability to work and can impact your bottom line. In the case of driving, drugs can compromise concentration, judgment and reaction time.

In Texas, there were 3,337 crashes involving drivers under the influence of drugs in 2015, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. A closer look at the data indicates there were 222 fatal drug crashes, 289 crashes involving incapacitating injuries and 611 crashes involving non-incapacitating injuries.

What’s the cost to a Texas employer? The National Safety Council has created a tool for you to use and find the answer: Substance Use Cost Calculator for Employers. It’s free and it’s easy to use. You plug in your workplace location, the type of business or industry you are in and the number of employees in your organization.

With that information, a report is generated that you can present to your executive leadership team. At your workplace, you may want to expand drug testing panels to include commonly prescribed medications. Further, you can protect your employees, your organization and your community by working to promote traffic safety and drawing attention to drugged-impaired driving.

Tailgate Talk

Prescription Drugs Can Put You at Risk Behind the Wheel

Can you identify four common workplace risks associated with prescription painkiller use? How about your employees? While you are out in the field, pull your team together and share these answers from Painkillers on the Job at your next Tailgate Talk.

Taking prescription drugs can lead to risks for those:

  1. Driving vehicles (commuting to-and-from work or while on the job)
  2. Operating machinery/equipment
  3. Making critical assessments
  4. Handling tasks that require focus and concentration (pace diminishes and productivity declines)

One study indicated enough prescription painkillers were provided in 2010 to medicate every American around the clock for an entire month. So, at any given time, some of your employees may be using prescription drugs and may be subject to these risks.

Next, talk about The Two Faces of Prescription Drugs. Yes, prescription medications are helpful taken in the right doses, at the right times, and when users are aware of potential side effects.

What is the flip side? Taking prescription drugs for long periods of time can lead to:

  • Dependency
  • Addiction, especially to pain medication
  • Abuse, particularly with pain medications and when drugs falls into the wrong hands
  • Overdoses

Every day, 60 people die from opioid pain medications, according to research from the National Safety Council. Just as alarming: 70% of people who have abused prescription painkillers reported getting them from friends or relatives.

Watch: The story of an Oklahoma Wonder Woman who “coded” twice after being hit head-on by a drugged driver and recently celebrated her third “re-birthday.”

NSC provides a free kit you can download to Make Your Workplace Opioid Free.

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

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Safety Coach

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.

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

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Together We Can End Impaired Driving

The National Safety Council has joined forces with six other traffic safety health advocacy organizations in releasing a new video public service announcement to remind Americans that driving impaired — in any form — is dangerous and preventable.

“An impaired driver is a dangerous driver; we need to be focused on the ‘four D’s’ — drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy,” said Dr. Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, added, “As the PSA says, ‘in a perfect world, impaired driving wouldn’t exist.’ All impairments are dangerous and preventable. I’m proud to join forces with these partners to remind the public that they hold the keys when it comes to making positive choices behind the wheel.”

Continue reading Together We Can End Impaired Driving

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