August 2020 Safety Coach: End of Summer and Beginning of New Safety Season

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In some places, the amount of traffic this fall may be significantly reduced. In others, people may be going back to the office and school. Expect to encounter additional pedestrians and bicyclists, who may not be visible or are between parked vehicles, particularly during peak travel times.

This mixed bag presents unique road safety challenges. Some have come to view open roads as speed tracks. Motor vehicle fatality rates have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, due in no small part to speeding and reckless driving. These behaviors have the potential to impact employers in a number of ways, from liabilities associated with employee crashes on company time to losses in productivity related to off-the-job crash injuries.

Discussing the topic of speeding with employees might bring to light some reasons drivers think it’s OK to speed, as well as reasons it is not worth the risk. Speeding cuts down on reaction time, reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects, and increases the force of impact in a crash. If a driver’s brain also is distracted, it’s a deadly combination.

Use our free Traffic Safety Huddle Sheet in a five-minute safety talk: The Speed Limit is NOT a suggestion. Follow up with a review of your organization’s safe driving policy. Be sure to address aggressive driving/speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving and seat belt use. Regularly sharing safety talks, whether in person or virtually, is a great strategy to infuse transportation safety into your organization’s culture.

Take action: Download this free, sample safe driving policy and make use of it on your company letterhead.

No one could have predicted we would be entering fall like this, where so many are feeling stressed or distracted because of uncertainties around their livelihoods. Nor could anyone have predicted extended work-from-home situations or starting the school year with virtual learning as the model in so many districts.

Alert drivers can reduce traffic risks no matter the environment. Share these safety tips to ensure your employees are prepared to share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists:

  • Silence your phone and avoid other electronic distractions that can pull your eyes away from the road and hands from the wheel
  • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists when turning

If your employees have been working from home, they may benefit from a few of these basic traffic safety reminders or a driver-training refresher course. While there is no doubt the world looks different, safety remains your best friend.

Intent of traffic safety challenge: Start fresh.

Tailgate Talk
Meet the Challenge

As Labor Day approaches and we think about changing seasons, let’s also think of new ways we can change driver behaviors and promote road safety. Here is one idea, and all you will need is a reset button.

Pose a couple of simple questions to engage employees in a traffic safety challenge:

  • What can I do to drive distraction-free?
  • How often do I get behind the wheel after I’ve had a few drinks?
  • Why don’t I allow enough time to make it to and from work without feeling the need to speed?

Ask employees to examine their driving habits and answer the questions honestly. In the interest of privacy, they can record answers using pen and paper or on their own mobile device. Then, tell them it’s time to hit the “reset” button.

Right about now, we’re all feeling like we need a chance to start over. Make it happen like this:

  • To avoid distractions behind the wheel, silence your phone, set your GPS device and pick a music playlist before you depart
  • If you are going out, plan ahead for a safe ride home
  • To get there – and back – keep in mind this old saying: Safety starts with “S” and begins with “You”

Download and display a couple of our free posters to draw more attention to your “fresh-start” efforts or share them on your intranet site:

Give employees time to share how they make positive driving choices. What strategies do they have that other employees would benefit from hearing? Co-workers are a great tool to have in your safety toolbox. Create opportunities to reward those who have improved their driving behaviors.

One idea: If circumstances allow, pop some popcorn and stage a viewing of Groundhog Day. This is a way for you to turn the cynical Bill Murray-type in your group into a safety ambassador. The reset here is intended to keep us all from reliving the same experiences repeatedly. Remember, there are no do-overs and safety should lead.