During the final days of summer, we will delight in the rituals. There will be parades, pool parties and backyard barbeques. We also will cringe when we hear the stories of celebrations gone awry. You know the kind: A guy breaks his arm falling from a rock. A gal is distracted and crashes her car into a ditch.
Or the stories that involve impairment and poor decisions that tragically cannot be reversed.
Incidents involving impaired driving tend to rise during long weekends in Texas and across the U.S. In fact, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 451 people died in crashes during the Labor Day holiday period in 2019. Of the fatalities:
- 45% involved drivers who had been drinking (.01 BAC or higher)
- 38% involved drivers who were drunk (.08 BAC or higher)
- 24% involved drivers who tested at almost twice the legal limit (.15 BAC or greater)
As the 2021 Labor Day holiday approaches, this is a good time for safety leaders to talk about choices and responsibilities. You choose what you eat and how you dress. You can choose to have fun and be safe, too. Share these safe driving tips in the days leading up to summer’s last hurrah:
- Drive distraction-free: Silence your phone, set your GPS device and pick a music playlist before you get behind the wheel.
- Slow down: Speeding is a factor in more than one-quarter of all traffic fatalities.
- Identify a sober driver: Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously. Impairment begins with the first drink. Safety risks increase as blood alcohol concentration levels rise. Alcohol can affect cognitive skills (judgment) and motor skills (hand-eye coordination). Safe drivers need to be able to think quickly and react quickly.
- Buckle up: Seat belts save lives and can keep vehicle occupants from being ejected in a crash. Every occupant needs to buckle up. Be sure kids are secured correctly in car seats appropriate for their developmental stage.
When you take unnecessary risks behind the wheel, you’re putting yourself in jeopardy. You’re also putting other road users in jeopardy. Did you know one reportable crash occurred every 67 seconds last year on roads in Texas? Or that 958 people were killed in crashes where a driver was under the influence of alcohol, according to data from the Texas Department of Transportation?
That’s more than two alcohol-related crash deaths every day.
When an employee or an employee’s family member is involved in a crash, it’s almost as if you are involved. Employers pick up the tab for expenses ranging from medical care and liability to lost productivity and property damage. If left unchecked, these expenses can impede your business from growing at the rate you projected. And that doesn’t account for the pain and suffering of losing a coworker or friend.
One of the best ways to keep moving forward is to wrap your arms around traffic safety. A summer tan eventually fades. A comprehensive safety program will continue to shine.
—Cindy Leonard is a senior program manager with the National Safety Council