‘Tis Always the Season to Put Safe Driving First

Lisa Robinson

Everybody knows at least one – a person who is of the “not-me” mindset and takes unnecessary risks when driving. I am talking about someone who thinks the speed limit is a suggestion or that it means you can go five miles over the posted limit.

Of course, that’s not the case. One of the most significant risks to be on the lookout for over the next four to six weeks is impaired driving. In the U.S., nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities every year are linked to drunk driving. That has not changed.

What has changed: Fatal crashes involving other drugs, including opioids and marijuana, are on the rise. During the holiday season, there are many opportunities for celebrations and many temptations.

Yet, there is no excuse for impaired driving, not when there are so many available alternatives, including options to phone a friend or use a ride-share service. The hustle and bustle of the season is challenging in normal times. This year, the world looks different. We need to be extra-vigilant.

We know many are feeling a heightened sense of stress and anxiety. Research shows alcohol and substance use are on the rise, all the more reason to offer support and put safety first.

Drunk driving is a problem on our nation’s roads every day, but typically is more prevalent during the holidays. Education is one way to affect change. Another way: End the year by taking a close look at your driver and transportation safety programs. Do you have policies in place that address distracted driving, impaired driving, aggressive driving, drowsy driving, speeding and seat belt use?

If not, ask yourself: Why not? Seat belts can be the last line of defense against impaired driving. Alcohol and other drugs can compromise skills necessary for safe driving, including judgment and vision, the ability to react and concentrate on the road ahead.

One of the best gifts you can give your employees is the gift of investing in a reliable safety program.

That means providing regular training. Our free Traffic Safety Huddle sheets are a good place to start. Use these PDF documents to build brief safety talks on blood alcohol content and impaired driving. Also, learn to read the signs of impairment in the workplace.

Use this sample safe driving policy as a template. The policy can serve as a tool to reinforce safe driving behaviors and remind employees of what is expected. Often, employees carry home ideals they learn at work, including the importance traffic safety. So, their family members stand to benefit, too.

I share these thoughts with you today in the hope you will continue to strive for change as we turn to 2021 and the next normal. Careless driving can preclude the opportunity for a do-over. We know impaired driving is completely preventable. And we know this is a good time to double-down on our safety efforts.

Happy holidays!

Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager with the National Safety Council