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August 2017 Safety Coach: Speedy Running Back is a Luxury, Speedy Driver is Costly

Safety Coach

Most drivers recognize speeding is a threat to their own safety and that speeding can put others around them on the road in jeopardy, too. Yet, speeding remains one of the most common risky driving behaviors, and few view this risky behavior in the same social context as being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

When you talk with your employees and your drivers about speeding, ask if they are familiar with the hurry-up-and-get-there syndrome. You know the one: A person zooms by, then a minute or two later can be spotted only a few yards ahead in congested traffic.

The person speeding and leapfrogging – changing lanes from left-to-right – did not accomplish anything except to put you and others at risk while making like a racecar driver. The consequences of driving like a speed-demon can greatly impact your bottom line and taint the image of your organization. Ramifications often are at least two-fold:

  1. Crashes: Speed increases the likelihood of crashes and the severity of injuries. Employers pay for crashes that occur on and off the job in a number of ways, including the increased cost of insurance premiums. Data from the Texas Department of Transportation indicates there were 26,357 crashes across the state involving speeding in 2016. Seven-hundred fifty-six people were killed and another 6,355 suffered incapacitating or non-incapacitating injuries.
  2. Road Rage: A criminal offense, this type of behavior is characterized by willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others. Road rage incidents involving guns are on the rise, according to news reports. No employer wants to be associated with guns or criminals. Five people were killed on Texas roads in 2016 in incidents involving road rage, according to TxDOT. More than 1,300 crashes involved road rage.

Best advice: Plan the amount of time you need to reach your destination, and work harder on leaving your home or office earlier to account for delays. Quiz: Road Rage Excuses. How many can your employees come up with?

True or False: I hear people say all the time, “The speed limit sign says 65, so I go 70 because I won’t get a ticket for going five miles over the limit.” False. You can get a ticket. The speed limit sign is not a suggestion but posted as the maximum speed allowed. This speed was set for a variety of reasons but, most importantly, it is a limit based on safety.

Many fleet organizations have gone to voluntary implementation of speed-limiters. How about yours?

Tailgate Talk

Data Indicates 1 in 5 Crashes is the Result of Distraction

On a new fact sheet produced for the Texas Department of Transportation, the headline says it all: 1 in 5 vehicle crashes in Texas involves driver distraction. Point to the research assembled by TxDOT when talking with your employees about staying focused on the road when behind the wheel:

Credit: TxDOT
  • Drivers talking on a cell phone – even a hands-free device – can miss up to half of what’s around them because they are cognitively distracted, meaning their minds are caught up in conversation
  • Nearly 4 in 10 smartphone users engage with social media when behind the wheel, and almost 3 in 10 surf the internet
  • More than 3,000 people were injured seriously and 455 died in distracted driving-related crashes in Texas in 2016

Know this: Just as technology helped create more driver distraction, now it can be used to help with a solution. Cell phone blocking apps and devices act to put your phone on airplane mode while you are behind the wheel.

Why block calls? If for no other reason, your employees can protect themselves from others engaged in risky driving behaviors – and save you money. Off-the-job incidents account for 80% of employer crash-related health benefit costs.

As an employer, if you are wondering how to protect yourself and your employees, we’ve created a sample safe driving policy. The document addresses concern over aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving and seat belt use. At the end, there is a place for employee acknowledgement of company policy, signature required.

Also, our e-learning modules allow you to take safety with you anytime, anywhere. These interactive modules are fully compatible with your mobile device. A number of topics are covered, including distracted driving.

In Texas, data shows younger drivers – and therefore your younger employees – are most at risk. In 2016, those between the ages of 16 and 34 were involved in 61,296 crashes involving driver distraction, according to TxDOT.