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May 2017 Safety Coach: How to Combat the Rise of Drug-Impaired Driving

Safety Coach

Employees drive to-and-from work and may drive as part of their job. Drugged-impaired driving is on the rise.

This message rings loud and clear in a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association — Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States. GHSA said drugs were found in 43% of drivers tested in fatal crashes vs. 37% in alcohol-involved fatal crashes.

What you need to know is drugs – including the over-the-counter variety and prescription medications – can impact your employees’ ability to work and can impact your bottom line. In the case of driving, drugs can compromise concentration, judgment and reaction time.

In Texas, there were 3,337 crashes involving drivers under the influence of drugs in 2015, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. A closer look at the data indicates there were 222 fatal drug crashes, 289 crashes involving incapacitating injuries and 611 crashes involving non-incapacitating injuries.

What’s the cost to a Texas employer? The National Safety Council has created a tool for you to use and find the answer: Substance Use Cost Calculator for Employers. It’s free and it’s easy to use. You plug in your workplace location, the type of business or industry you are in and the number of employees in your organization.

With that information, a report is generated that you can present to your executive leadership team. At your workplace, you may want to expand drug testing panels to include commonly prescribed medications. Further, you can protect your employees, your organization and your community by working to promote traffic safety and drawing attention to drugged-impaired driving.

Tailgate Talk

Prescription Drugs Can Put You at Risk Behind the Wheel

Can you identify four common workplace risks associated with prescription painkiller use? How about your employees? While you are out in the field, pull your team together and share these answers from Painkillers on the Job at your next Tailgate Talk.

Taking prescription drugs can lead to risks for those:

  1. Driving vehicles (commuting to-and-from work or while on the job)
  2. Operating machinery/equipment
  3. Making critical assessments
  4. Handling tasks that require focus and concentration (pace diminishes and productivity declines)

One study indicated enough prescription painkillers were provided in 2010 to medicate every American around the clock for an entire month. So, at any given time, some of your employees may be using prescription drugs and may be subject to these risks.

Next, talk about The Two Faces of Prescription Drugs. Yes, prescription medications are helpful taken in the right doses, at the right times, and when users are aware of potential side effects.

What is the flip side? Taking prescription drugs for long periods of time can lead to:

  • Dependency
  • Addiction, especially to pain medication
  • Abuse, particularly with pain medications and when drugs falls into the wrong hands
  • Overdoses

Every day, 60 people die from opioid pain medications, according to research from the National Safety Council. Just as alarming: 70% of people who have abused prescription painkillers reported getting them from friends or relatives.

Watch: The story of an Oklahoma Wonder Woman who “coded” twice after being hit head-on by a drugged driver and recently celebrated her third “re-birthday.”

NSC provides a free kit you can download to Make Your Workplace Opioid Free.