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October 2017 Newsletter: Crash Rates Three Times Higher at Night

Our Driving Concern Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

Q: What contributes to nighttime driving issues?

A: A driver’s field of vision can be narrowed to include only areas illuminated by headlights and fixed road lights. Depth perception and peripheral vision can be compromised. And then, there is fatigue.

Fatigue is caused by sleep-deprivation, time-on-task tedium and body-clock disruption. All can be factors leading to drowsy driving. The ability to sustain attention, see and react to hazards dips when drivers are drowsy. In a National Safety Council survey, one in five working Americans admitted to falling asleep while driving in the past month.

October is a good time to talk about risks associated with night driving and pedestrian safety because the month typically is reserved for fall festivals and Halloween activities and concludes as daylight savings time nears an end. Your drivers and employees will be driving during more in the dark.

In Texas, impaired visibility contributed to 4,033 crashes in 2016, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. October was the deadliest month on state roads with 337 fatal crashes. Pedestrian fatalities increased by 21.5% from 2015.

Nationwide, darting or running into the road accounts for about 70% of pedestrian deaths and injuries for those age 5 to 9 and about 47% of incidents for those 10 to 14, according to NSC data. Little ones are known to race around neighborhoods as they look to fill up their goodie bags during trick-or-treating hours. Slow down and keep watch when driving on Halloween.

A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates 82% of pedestrian fatalities occur outside intersections. Alcohol involvement for the driver and/or the pedestrian is a contributing factor in about half of traffic crashes that result in pedestrian fatalities. Halloween is a time for costume parties and revelry, but not for straying outside of crosswalks.

Post these night driving safety tips on your bulletin board or other internal channels to help keep your workforce safe:

  • Adjust your speed for the range of your headlights; use high beams when possible
  • Keep your eyes moving
  • Watch for cars and people on hilltops, curves and approaching intersections
  • Try not to look directly into the headlights of oncoming traffic; blinding glare can cause distraction
  • Keep windshields and headlight lenses clean

What else can you do? From time-to-time, share talking points on a variety of traffic safety issues. Huddle Up: Call a Winning Traffic Safety Play.

Coming Soon: Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers

Can your managers and supervisors identify an impaired employee in the workplace?

In January, Our Driving Concern will begin Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers (DITTE). The goal of this new program is to assist Texas employers with their driving impairment education efforts. Employers can cut costs and be leaders in reducing injuries and fatalities on Texas roads.

Who is it for? Health, safety and wellness experts, human resources professionals, public affairs specialists, business owners and senior and executive management leaders should attend training sessions.

How does it work? In the four-hour training, your managers and supervisors will learn:

  • How to educate their employees on traffic safety to help reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related incidents on state roads
  • How to identify signs and symptoms of impairment, including use and misuse of alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drugs
  • How to develop or improve a resource guide for drug policies, programs and practices within your organization

What’s the cost? Nothing. Training sessions are free and made possible through a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.

To learn more about the DITTE program, subscribe to the free Our Driving Concern eNewsletter , visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Continuing Education: Traffic Safety Training Comes with Extra Incentive

If you have attended one of our free traffic safety training sessions, then you know about half of all crash-related injuries result in days away from work. The impact on employers is far-reaching, extending to everything from increases in health insurance premiums to productivity losses.

Education is one way to address driver behavior risks. Education also is a way for Texas business leaders and safety professionals to collectively put their best foot forward. And now, anyone who attends one of our four-hour traffic safety training sessions is eligible to receive continuing education units through a partnership forged between Our Driving Concern and the University of Texas at Arlington.

Previous training session attendees may seek CEUs, too, of particular note to those working toward completion of their workplace safety credentials. Each CEU applicant is responsible for the $15 fee. To register for course credit, visit UT Arlington’s continuing education website.

Meet Guy Who Loves His Truck, But Not His Seat Belt

When you departed on your morning commute to work, did you buckle your seat belt? If you dropped the kids off at school on the way to the office, did you check to be sure they were wearing seat belts, too?

Texas law states all passengers in a vehicle must be secured by a seat belt. Promoting seat belt use is one of the least expensive and most effective ways for employers to reduce costs associated with crashes, whether they occur on or off the job.

In our e-Learning module on Passenger Restraint, you will learn drivers and passengers who buckle up are 45% less likely to die in a crash and 50% less likely to be moderately injured. You will be quizzed on Texas seat belt use rates, and you will be introduced to Careless Carl, the guy who rarely buckles up when he hops in his pickup.

Finally, you will be taught the physics of seat belts. A brief video demonstrates what the impact of a crash would feel like if you were unrestrained. Take traffic safety with you anytime, anywhere: Each of our e-Learning modules is fully compatible with your mobile device.

Have you completed all six e-learning modules? Want a certificate of completion? Take our quiz and pass—and you’ll receive a PDF certificate to print.

S-L-E-E-P: How Do You Spell Improved Performance?

In a Thrive Global blog post, National Safety Council Senior Program Manager Emily Whitcomb examines why fatigue makes you less productive at work and less fun at home. She guides readers toward The Simple Secret to Better Performance Every Day.

Whitcomb points to an NSC report that shows 43% of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep to handle risks that can jeopardize their safety at work and while driving. She says the workplace can contribute to fatigue in several ways, including:

  • Making it difficult to keep a consistent sleep schedule, often the result of shift work
  • Requiring mentally or physically demanding work, laboring over tedious or repetitive tasks and too much time on task
  • Poor indoor air quality or lighting

Whitcomb says one-third of adults get less than seven hours of sleep each day. She provides tips to increase your quality and quantity of sleep. Cover the highlights, then share two more resources:

Exposing Hidden Risks of Drugged Driving By Employees

In the September/October issue of its magazine, the NAFA Fleet Management Association says employers can be held liable for crashes involving employees who are under the influence of medication prescribed for work-related injuries.

“Drug addiction affects people from every walk of life, in every community, and the fleet and mobility profession cannot shy away from these implications,” NAFA’s Chief Executive Officer Phillip Russo said.

If an employee is found to be under the influence of drugs at the time of a crash, NAFA’s report details how organizations could be:

  • Responsible for the driver’s addiction to opioids or prescription drugs because the addiction resulted from medication prescribed by a doctor for a workplace related injury
  • At risk for extended workers’ compensation costs if the driver requires medical treatment for the addiction or dependency
  • Held responsible for the driver’s actions
  • Held liable for damages resulting from the crash

Healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are three times higher than for an average employee, according to the National Safety Council.  Steps employers can take to protect themselves and their employees:

  • Enact strong company drug policies
  • Expand drug panel testing to include opioids
  • Train supervisors and employees to spot the first signs of drug misuse

Print and post: Impaired Driving Posters, Fact Sheets and Tip Sheets

Researchers Unlock Method to Detect Driver Distraction

Sensing distraction as it happens could allow for drivers to be alerted to potential hazards and one day could make driving safer, according to a report released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Researches from TTI and the University of Houston found heart rate signals captured via wearable sensors (smart watches) and perinasal perspiration captured via miniature thermal imagers were able to track all forms of distraction, including emotional and cognitive distraction.

The results could provide the groundwork for future safety systems, according to TTI Director Robert Wunderlich.

Read: Researchers Release Unique Dataset Looking at Distracted Drivers
Share at Your Workplace: The Myth of Multitasking Test

Two Automated Driving Visions Thrust on a Collision Course

In some parts of the country, self-driving cars already are on the road. Fortune Magazine featured George Hotz as the entrepreneur working to usurp big companies racing to develop autonomous vehicles by providing people with technology to do the job themselves.

Hotz is a California-based techie using dash-cam data to teach vehicles to drive themselves and he is giving that technology away, a practice that has come under fire. “If somebody decides to put one of these on their car and something goes wrong in public, that’s where I start to get scared,” Clemson University’s Venkat Krovi said in Fortune’s article, “This Man Wants to Open Source Your Car.

“If a car hasn’t come across a certain case before, it’s hard to know how it’ll respond to that case,” Krovi said.

The good news: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration includes ‘A Vision for Safety’ in its latest iteration of guidance on the future of automated driving.

“The most compelling reason to encourage the rapid deployment of these technologies is to reverse the staggering death toll on our roadways,” National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement supporting NHTSA. “ADAS systems are already saving lives. Just think of the additional fatalities we could prevent with the deployment of even higher levels of automation.”

What can you do at your workplace? Use MyCarDoesWhat to provide a simple guide on how today’s vehicle safety technologies work.