January 2020 Safety Coach: Tomorrow Belongs to People Who Prepare Today

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Safety Coach
Turn a Wish into a Reality

I’ve heard it said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

When you work with employees to promote safe driving behaviors on and off the job, turn that “wish” into a reality by devising a plan. Ask: What is your responsibility for a safe ride? Then, work together to create a checklist. Be sure to include items such as these:

  • When you first get in your vehicle, check and adjust seat positions and mirrors
  • Set your GPS and radio or music options before you depart to avoid distraction
  • Know the weather and driving conditions (rain, sleet and snow can cause roads to become slippery)
  • Buckle up (every person, every seat, every time)
  • What are the rules of the road where I will be driving (speed limits, etc.)?
  • Plan the route (check for road closures and the height of bridges)
  • Be prepared for work zones

In Texas and elsewhere across the country, research shows rear seat belt use lags far behind front seat belt use. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety uncovered reasons cited by adults for not buckling in back:

  • One-quarter of respondents said they felt safer in back, so using a belt was unnecessary
  • Others said they are not in the habit of buckling up in back or they simply forget
  • Some said they couldn’t find the belt or the buckle in back because it was tucked away under the seat padding

In Texas, every passenger must be buckled, front and back alike, including ride-share passengers, and none of these reasons trump the safety of wearing a seat belt. How many of your employees travel for work? Do they drive company vehicles? Do they drive rental cars? Do they use cabs and other ride-share service vehicles? Do they buckle up in back? Nationwide, seat belt use in passenger cars saves about 15,000 lives every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The point is: You can plan for safety before you drive or ride. And your plan should go beyond regular vehicle maintenance. Just as it is important to check tires for wear and proper inflation, it is also important to stock your vehicle with a roadside emergency kit and secure loose items inside your vehicle so they don’t become projectiles in a crash.

I talk to many employees who tell me their company does not discuss safety as it relates to driving rental cars or riding as a passenger in a vehicle. Here are three free resources you can use to assist in your transportation safety efforts:

  • Co-Pilot Rights: Prevent distraction for the driver. Empower your employees to say something if they see something. Their safety is at risk.  Share this infographic.
  • Rental Card Checklist: We want all drivers to stay safe on the road, including those using rental vehicles. On the front of this double-sided card is an outline of what you need to learn about the vehicle you are driving before you leave the rental agency lot. Five things to check are highlighted on the flip side. Print and distribute.
  • What Happens When Unbuckled Bodies Collide in a Crash? Traveling at 30 mph, an adult passenger riding in the back seat without his seat belt fastened is thrown forward with a force of 3½ tons, the weight of an elephant charging straight through the driver. Show this video during a safety meeting.
Diet, exercise and road safety? Make the connection at your workplace.

Tailgate Talk
Start a New Safety Diet

Typically, people think about starting a new diet or exercise program at the start of a new year. They might not be as quick to think about a new driver safety program – or making updates to an existing program. Here is how you can help drive the conversation beyond health and wellness to also include safety on the roads at your workplace throughout 2020.

To live life to the fullest, we need to take stock of all we do, both at work and at home. We also need to make sure everyone understands safety risks associated with driving, walking, biking – all forms of transportation. Driving is one of the most dangerous activities we engage in every day.

In Texas, one reportable crash occurs almost every minute, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Crashes cost employer’s money through health, life and disability insurance, sick leave, workers’ compensation and more, whether they occur on or off the job, and whether they involve employees or their family members.

Occupationally, transportation incidents remain the leading cause of fatalities. A variety of industries and occupations require employees to drive or be exposed to hazards associated with driving. Does your organization have a safe-driving policy that addresses concerns over speeding/aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving and seat belt use?

No? Not to worry. We have created a sample policy you can copy and use on your own company letterhead. Get the Sample Driving Policy here. Take time to stop and evaluate all aspects of your safety program. What’s working? What’s not working? Seek input from employees.

We offer a number of free resources you can use to help your employees focus on safe driving behaviors and transportation safety:

Diet and exercise are part of a plan for health and wellness. If you have space, get your group up and moving with 10 jumping jacks. Then, finish with this reminder: Safe driving needs to be part of your plan moving forward.

I will be using #DriveSafe365 to emphasize that transportation safety is a commitment. Feel free to use the hashtag to connect employees with traffic safety social media messages and to bolster your own efforts.