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.

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

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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 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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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 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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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 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.

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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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