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March 2017 Safety Coach: Address Driver Behavior with a Work Challenge

Safety Coach

If you ever have wondered why people say nothing good happens late at night, consider this:

In Texas, more fatal crashes occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. than at any other time of the day. What about crash frequency during the week? Or in a given month of the year?

Can you guess the three deadliest days on state roads? If you guessed Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you would be correct and you probably would not be surprised. But did you know the month of March is full of madness?

To be clear, this has nothing to do with a crazy finish to an even crazier basketball game. Rather, it has everything to do with spring break and the three leading causes of traffic fatalities – alcohol, distraction and speeding. I see the light bulb going off as you process this information.

In 2015, there were 43,613 crashes on Texas roads in March. Three-hundred-two people were killed and 1,402 suffered incapacitating injuries. Crashes negatively impact every Texas employer’s bottom line, whether they occur on or off the job.

Why do you care? More than 80% of fringe benefits costs an employer pays are the result of off-the-job behaviors, including crashes incurred by family members of employees. One way to reduce costs and save lives: focus on changing the behavior of drivers in your workforce, whether they sit behind the wheel of a big rig or at a desk.

And know that actions learned at work often are mimicked at home. So, it’s a win-win to join in the effort to end distracted driving. In April, the National Safety Council and the Texas Department of Transportation participate in Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to this epidemic. It would be great if you could make this a focus, too.

Distracted driving is a contributing factor in more than 100,000 crashes every year in Texas. Nationwide, more than 3,000 people are killed on an annual basis. One way for you to engage employees and participate in raising awareness is through an incentivized employee safety program.

Why not try our Attentive Driver Challenge? Perhaps you could distribute raffle tickets to employees who participate and draw from the pot to select a winner or winners. Prizes? Gift cards are popular. Or maybe you have another idea.

— Your driving concern is my driving concern – Lisa Robinson

Safety Talk: What is Distracted Driving?

You will find the answer on the TxDOT website:

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger drivers, passengers, others on the road and pedestrians. While mobile phone use is the most publicized driver distraction, there are many others. How many can you name?

Talk with your employees and get their ideas. Then, share this list from TxDOT:

  • Posting to social media
  • Checking email
  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Reading
  • Programming a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player

Tailgate Talk

Activity Calls Attention to Dangers of Driver Distraction

Crashes lead to lost work time and lost productivity. They also lead to increases in health, life and disability insurance premiums. Driver distraction is one of the three leading causes of traffic fatalities – ranking right alongside alcohol and speeding.

About 100 cities in Texas have banned or restricted cell phones while driving, including Wichita Falls. Many employers also have enacted policies that serve to both protect their employees and limit their liability exposure in lawsuits.

What activities can you try as a way to call attention to the dangers of driver distraction in April during Distracted Driving Awareness Month? Our Stand, Sit or Lean Multitasking Improv Activity is fun and works in almost any setting. The idea is to highlight how much thought process is required for you to talk on a cell phone and continue with another task at the same time.

After a few minutes of play time, you should seek reactions from volunteers and observers. Ask: Did you feel stressed? Then, remind your employees, while you can walk and chew gum simultaneously, you can’t do two thinking activities at once and do them well. Apply that learning to driving.

Drivers looking out the windshield can miss seeing up to 50% of what is around them when talking on any kind of cell phone. This phenomenon sometimes is referred to as inattention blindness. Safe driving requires that your eyes are on the road, your hands are on the wheel and your mind is focused on the task at hand.

Three free resources to reinforce your Tailgate Talk:

What Else Can You Do?

  • Use the distracted driving Safety Coach cards for a quick two-minute conversation throughout the month
  • Share information/resources in employee newsletters
  • Send information home to employee family members
  • Post items on your organization’s website and/or intranet site
  • Hang our Toilet Tabloids in your bathrooms – and don’t forget your remote job site locations
  • Recognize employees for doing the right things