During the COVID-19 pandemic, distracted driving and impaired driving incidents have been reported across the nation despite the fact fewer vehicles are on the roadways. Concerns about mental illness and substance use disorders have surfaced, and many of these issues can be linked directly to stress. Your employees are worried about safety, job security, their own health and wellbeing and the welfare of their families.
Stress can cause drivers to be distracted. Think about it: If your mind is racing, will you be thinking about the rules of the road? We have witnessed surges in speeding and reckless driving and double-digit increases in vehicle fatality rates.
What can you do to address stress and mental health concerns as employees return to work? Get tools from the National Safety Council to provide support. Double your transportation safety efforts and pay particular attention to employee physical health and issues related to fatigue and distraction.
You might not ordinarily make a connection between self-care and safe driving, yet there is evidence the two are connected. For example, people who mediate find their mood improves, they sleep better and they are better able to concentrate, according to Mayo Clinic.
We know rested drivers are safer drivers. Use these free resources to raise awareness of risks associated with drowsy driving:
- Traffic Safety Huddle (lead a five-minute safety talk at your organization)
- Not Your Dream Car (print and display this poster)
- All A’s: Awake, Alert Alive (share this video)
One of the most dangerous times to drive is at night, due in no small part to compromised vision and more impaired drivers on the road. Your vision can change through normal aging. A 50-year-old driver might need twice as much light to see as a 30-year-old. Cataracts and degenerative eye diseases also can reduce vision.
Share these tips to promote employee wellness and safe driving:
- Schedule annual vision exams
- Reduce speed when driving at night
- Limit driving to daylight hours when possible
Right now, there are so many reasons for people to feel stressed. Many are working remotely, trying to balance office time with family time. Essential workers have been pushed to new limits. However, safety does not stop in the face of a pandemic. In fact, when driving, safety should not be “a” priority, it should be “the” priority.
Breaking down on the road is another stressor that can be avoided by simply keeping your vehicle in top shape. If your vehicle has been sitting for a while, now is a good time to do a vehicle inspection. When you fly, you expect the plane to be properly maintained. When you drive, it should be no different. Share these summer safe driving tips before your employees hit the road:
- Get an oil change or tune-up
- Check tire pressure and tread wear
- Find out if your vehicle has an open recall
At times like these, stress is a heavy load and can bring you down if you don’t find a way to carry it. Be safe. Be happy.
One Road for Everyone
Warm weather brings people outdoors. You may have noticed there are more bicyclists on the road now than at any time in the recent past. But it’s not just the weather. More people are riding bikes because public transportation and ride-share options have dwindled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you want to buy a new bicycle, good luck. Local retailers and online suppliers are nearly sold out. Be sure to talk about bicycle safety and sharing the roads as a way to connect with employees. Let me suggest you start by sharing my latest Live with Lisa video clip:
In one minute, I outline the “Far-Hand Reach” and a few more basic safety steps that can reduce risk for all road users.
- Ride a bike that fits you and is properly maintained
- Take steps to be seen, even when riding during daylight hours, including wearing neon and fluorescent clothing
- When riding at night, use flashing lights
- Give bicyclists adequate space
- Be alert when traveling in areas frequented by bicyclists, particularly at intersections and around curbs
- After parking on the curb, reach across your body to the door handle with your right hand (this is called the Far-Hand Reach) to prompt you to look in your side mirror and stop you from opening your door in front of an oncoming bicyclist
Bicycle injuries and deaths are on the rise. In fact, fatalities rose more than 26% in Texas from 2017 to 2018, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Be a part of the solution. Get more bicycle safety tips to share from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.