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March 2020 Newsletter: Two New Ways to Confront an Old Issue

Kernels of Safety

You want to eat a bag of popcorn, watch a movie and enjoy all the little moments that make your life special. In order to do so, you also will want to embrace road safety. Now, let’s make the connection.

In a talk at your workplace, use data from the Texas Department of Transportation to demonstrate how road safety is vital to all that your employees hold dear. I think you will find that making this connection is both useful and eye-opening. Driving is one of the riskiest things all of us do every day. Why does this matter to you? In Texas:

  • One reportable crash occurs every minute
  • One person is injured in a crash every 2 minutes
  • One person is killed every 2½ hours

Each of these crashes will affect someone’s family and possibly your workplace. The people involved could be co-workers, family members, neighbors or friends.

Next, share my newest video message: Be at Your Best Behind the Wheel. The message speaks to risks involving impairment and is one I’m sure all of your employees can identify with on some level. Make time at your location to review the 4 Ds of impairment – drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving.

  1. Alcohol-impaired driving: Impairment begins with the first drink. Most adults reach 0.05 BAC after two to three drinks. At that level, crash risk is 40% greater than at zero alcohol concentration. Why take risks? Plan ahead for a safe ride home.
  2. Drug-impaired driving: Marijuana and other drugs can impact coordination, judgment and reaction time, all skills necessary for safe driving. In a national roadside survey, 20% of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for drugs, and there was a 48% increase in nighttime weekend drivers testing positive for THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects. When taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, consult with a doctor or pharmacist before driving.
  3. Distracted driving: More than 50% of drivers believe if manufacturers put infotainment dashboards and hands-free technologies in vehicles, they must be safe. Research indicates these technologies distract our brains long after we’ve finished using them. Hands-free is not risk-free. We must be more engaged and attentive while driving. There are no do-overs.
  4. Drowsy driving: 4% of drivers responding to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they fell asleep while driving at least once in the last 30 days. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep to reach peak performance levels, yet 50% of Americans sleep less than is recommended, according to research from Harvard University. You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are fatigued. Plan for a good night’s sleep.

Investing in a consistent and on-going safety approach can positively affect culture change. Instead of falling back on your old teaching methods, why not have a little more fun? Share my collection of short video clips to promote traffic safety, both on and off the job. Go Live with Lisa! You can contact me or Texas Program Manager Cindy Leonard. We are happy to talk over a safety strategy.

Employers can lead the fight to end impaired driving.

Toast of Knowledge

You don’t have to be Irish to dress up like a Leprechaun or drink a green beer during a bit of St. Patrick’s Day revelry. You do have to be living under a shamrock not to recognize the dangers of impaired driving. Nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. involve drivers with alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08, the legal limit.

In Texas, 940 people were killed in crashes where a driver was under the influence of alcohol in 2018, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. That’s nearly three deaths every day. More than 7,200 suffered injuries. These are your co-workers, family members, friends and neighbors.

Alcohol-involved crashes impact people in all occupations and all across the state, including urban and rural areas.

Employers are impacted by crashes on or off the job, including incidents that involve employees and their family members. Lead Safety Talks around impaired driving and make use of strategies outlined here:

Make traffic safety part of your everyday conversations. Emphasize how everyone can be part of the road-safety solution. You can start by seizing safety opportunities during the lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day, which this year falls on a Tuesday. Celebrations typically involve drinking. They do not have to end in heartache. Keep in mind: Sober driving should remain on your safety radar all year long.

Share these safety tips:

  • Designate a sober driver or make alternate transportation plans before heading out to party; a sober driver is someone who has not and will not be drinking
  • Use a ride-share service or cab (there are always options besides getting behind the wheel)
  • Never let a friend drive impaired
  • Always buckle up: It’s still the best defense against a drunk driver

Engage your employees with this challenge: Follow this timeline to gain a better understanding of how your blood alcohol level can remain elevated long after you have stopped drinking.

Print and display this poster: Your Designated Driver.

Finally, pick a TxDOT video to play during your next safety meeting: Every Face Tells a Story.

Let us keep all those “Irish” eyes out there smiling. Remember, every day – not just a holiday – is  an opportunity to talk about safety.

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