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February 2020 Newsletter: Traffic Safety is Not Prescribed for Us, It is Dictated By Us

Lights, Camera, Action

Recently, I worked with colleagues at the National Safety Council to film a series of new “Live with Lisa” traffic safety messages. Today, I am happy to say the first one is ready for you to share during your next safety meeting, and on your workplace video monitors and social channels: Stick with Your To-Do List.

I bet everyone can identify with this distracted driving safety message. I talk about how we all live in a world of lists. And I underscore the importance of regularly prioritizing the items we want to accomplish in our daily lives, both at work and at home. Before you show the video, engage employees with this simple exercise. Ask: What distracts you behind the wheel? Expect answers such as these:

  • Food
  • Social media
  • Cellphone (texting and/or talking)

Next, talk about ways employees can decrease distractions. Providing consistent and ongoing traffic safety education and training to 100% of your employee population is one of the best things you, as an employer, can do to create a culture of safety. We know driving is one of the most dangerous occupational activities we undertake every day. In 2018, crash data from the Texas Department of Transportation speaks to the level of risk all of us encounter on state roads:

  • One person was killed every 2 hours 25 minutes
  • One person was injured every 2 minutes 7 seconds
  • One reportable crash occurred every 58 seconds

What is learned at work often is carried home. Help your employees get home safely to be with family or binge watch their favorite television shows. Use my newest traffic safety video as a tool to revisit the topic of distracted driving. Many distracted driving incidents are the result of driver behavior behind the wheel, including handheld or hands-free cellphone use.

Research indicates distraction persists long after you finish using voice commands to make a call or send a text. Your mind is focused on the dashboard technology, not the road. This can reduce reaction time and cause crashes. Go “Live with Lisa” and offer this two-word solution: Just drive.

Share: Stick with Your To-Do List.

Scott Scheffler and Lisa Robinson.

Partners on the Road to Zero

Texas’ Permian Basin is known as one of the most active oil and gas producing regions in the world. In recent years, an increase in crashes has accompanied the increase in activity, with drivers of heavy industrial equipment often navigating roads originally built for rural use long ago.

In 2018, 2% of the state’s population resided in the Permian Basin region, yet 11% of the state’s road fatalities occurred here. In an effort raise traffic safety awareness and provide more transportation safety training, a unique partnership has blossomed.

Hello, Scott Scheffler. Meet Lisa Robinson.

Scheffler is the executive director of the Permian Basin Road Safety Coalition. The goals of his Coalition largely mirror those of Robinson, head of the Our Driving Concern Texas Employer Traffic Safety Program. In fact, the two have aligned in recent days and months, working toward a common goal – zero. That’s zero crashes, zero injuries and zero fatalities.

Robinson visited the region last November and delivered a safety talk. She since has worked closely with Scheffler to introduce free traffic safety training opportunities and put free resources in the hands of employers and contractors working in the region.

“The Permian Basin Road Safety Coalition partners with and leverages the resources of Our Driving Concern by helping reach and provide Our Driving Concern’s train-the-trainer programs to companies and their contracting companies,” Scheffler said. “The objective is to build road safety training capacity in smaller oil services and transportation companies that serve the oil and gas industry. Doing so helps improve road safety training for employers and contractors in the basin.”

Power in Numbers

Members of the Permian Coalition work with a number of small contractor and subcontractor companies. Typically, they have smaller budgets and place less emphasis on road safety training programs and road safety culture building activities, Scheffler said.

“We monitor a 22-county area (20 counties in Texas and two in Southeast New Mexico) that make up the Permian Basin,” he said. “In 2019, we realized a 12% reduction in fatal accidents in those 22 counties and a 23% reduction in the Texas Department of Transportation’s Odessa District. The biggest change from 2018 to 2019 was the amount and frequency of road safety awareness and training opportunities provided by the Permian Road Safety Coalition and its partners.”

Scheffler said one of the best anecdotal stories showing how oil and gas companies have worked with members of the Coalition to change driver behavior speaks directly to policy. He knows of several companies that regularly pull employee driver’s license data to check their driving records.

“This allows the company to identify drivers who are at a higher risk, who may need additional training or who should be prohibited from driving a company’s fleet vehicle,” he said. “This is in contrast to companies that pull the driver’s information only once around an employee’s date of hire. Companies have shared with us that increasing this surveillance practice has improved their driving safety record.

“We’ve also seen positive success in companies using in-vehicle monitoring systems and the use of coaching in conjunction with those systems. Sharing of best practices is a basic foundational practice of the Permian Road Safety Coalition.”

The same can be said of the Our Driving Concern program. Free training and free resources are available to all Texas employers. Let us know how we can help your organization prioritize transportation safety. Email: Lisa.Robinson@nsc.org.

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