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December 2018 Newsletter: Plan for Safety at Holiday Gatherings

Deck the Halls with Safety

Our Driving Concern Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road.

Q: What concerns should employers address if they plan to host holiday gatherings?

A: One is liability as it pertains to serving alcohol. A bartender is liable for serving alcohol to a patron who becomes intoxicated and injures a third party. Likewise, most states have social host statutes or common law customs that hold private event hosts liable for actions of their guests. You are considered a “social host” if you provide alcohol to employees in a non-retail fashion.

We all like to celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year. So, as you plan celebrations, take steps to plan for safety and sobriety, too.

  • Offer a range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks
  • Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar
  • Do not pay for alcoholic drinks; guests will drink less if required to foot the bill themselves
  • Provide transportation to and from events, appoint designated drivers or encourage guests to use ride-share services if they consume alcohol

Read/share Know Safety, No Crashes blog post: Best Holiday Parties Include a Party Favor That Plans Ahead for Safe Rides.

Alcohol can impact thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination. All of these functions are essential to safely operating a vehicle. Alcohol consumed in combination with medications or illegal drugs can elevate driving risks and ultimately lead to more crashes.

And it’s not just the driver who is at risk. Your co-workers, your friends and family members often are the victims in crashes that are preventable. In 2017, crashes involving DUI (alcohol) resulted in the following fatalities, according to the Texas Department of Transportation:

  • 678 DUI drivers
  • 159 persons in vehicles not driven by DUI drivers
  • 137 passengers in vehicles driven by DUI drivers
  • 50 pedestrians or pedalcyclists

Planning for safety will not eliminate the risks, but it will help reduce liability and let your employees know you care about their health and well-being. Happy holidays!

Submit Your Winning Entry

At Our Driving Concern, we believe safety should be celebrated. So, we encourage you to learn more about the best-practice safety initiatives of the 13 winners in the 2018 Our Driving Concern traffic safety awards program. Then, we invite you to fill out an application for our 2019 awards.

Any Texas employer is eligible, regardless of company type or size. The deadline to submit an application is Tuesday, Jan. 15. Applicants will be judged on educational and outreach efforts focusing on traffic safety and driver behaviors, with the goal to reduce traffic crashes on and off the job.

In August, three Texas organizations were recognized for going above and beyond, and earned “exemplary” distinction at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute safety conference in Sugar Land:

  • City of Waco: Implemented a vehicle and wireless communication policy that now is an expectation of employment
  • MedStar Mobile Healthcare: Posted “No Phone Zone” static clings on all vehicles and worked to promote safe driving behaviors through both traditional and innovative training and educational efforts
  • Texas Mutual Insurance: Toughened its phone-free driving policy and reduced crashes by 61% while allowing employees to safely disconnect when behind the wheel

Watch: Our Driving Concern Texas Employer Traffic Safety Awards 2018.