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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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).

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

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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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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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October 2016 Safety Coach: Why it Makes $ense to Consider a Safe Driving Policy

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On a recent trip to Robstown, Our Driving Concern Program Manager Lisa Robinson visited the headquarters of Ainsworth Trucking. As she gripped thehead-on-view-of-lisa-mike-ezzell-in-background-1 wheel in the company’s state-of-the-art truck driving simulator, she felt uneasy.

Undaunted, she tested herself in an all-new driver setting and gained a much greater appreciation for the level of skill required to drive a big rig.

Right then and there, Robinson decided driving a truck will never make it as an entry on her bucket list. She was humbled. She also was gratified to see how Ainsworth Trucking goes above and beyond when it comes to considerations involving the safety and well-being of its drivers.

Continue reading October 2016 Safety Coach: Why it Makes $ense to Consider a Safe Driving Policy

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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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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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