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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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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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.

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

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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 …

Continue reading March 2016 Newsletter: Sorting Through Mixed Messages of Distracted Driving

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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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Texas Drunk Driving Law Aimed at Curbing Repeat Offenses

At your next employee safety meeting, you might want to reserve some time to talk about the ramifications of a drunk driving law that went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1, 2015, if only to reinforce safe driving habits on and off the job.

NHTSA Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
NHTSA Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

The law, which requires drunk driving offenders to install an ignition interlock on their vehicles before hitting the road again, is aimed at curbing repeat drunk driving offenses. In the state of Texas, there is one DUI-alcohol crash every 20 minutes 37 seconds, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Not surprisingly, Texas led the nation with 1,337 drunk driving deaths in 2013, as indicated on Page 5 of this National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report.

Continue reading Texas Drunk Driving Law Aimed at Curbing Repeat Offenses

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