September 2019 Newsletter: Going Back to Safety School

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Attitude vs. Behavior

Kids are back in school. That means more foot traffic in school zones, more bicyclists on neighborhood streets and more congestion around buses as they stop and start along routes, both in the early-morning and late-afternoon hours. That means it is also a good time to review risks associated with distracted driving.

In that split second when one of your drivers or one of your employees chooses to look at his or her phone, a child could step into the road. Drivers have to live with the consequences of their decisions, including distracted driving crashes. Employers pay for crashes whether they occur on or off the job.

Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found drivers value traffic safety principles but don’t always measure up to those principles behind the wheel. In a study examining attitude and behavior, AAA found:

  • 75% of drivers support laws against holding and talking on a cellphone, and 88% support laws against reading, typing or sending a text or email while behind the wheel
  • 52.1% of drivers report having used a handheld cellphone while behind the wheel at least once in the past 30 days and 41.3% say they have read a text or email

Any activity that takes your mind off the task of driving is a form of multitasking or switchtasking. Your brain cannot handle two thinking tasks at the same time, like driving and talking on the phone. Instead, your brain toggles quickly between these two tasks.

Because of the time it takes to switch back and forth, you are more apt as a driver to react slower, make mistakes and experience increased stress. As a way to engage employees, watch this video and try this exercise with your group: The Myth of Multitasking Test.

The results are sure to open a few eyes. Here are three more ways to address concerns over distracted driving:

  1. Review or update your safe driving policy. Don’t have one? Don’t worry. We have created a sample that addresses concern over aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving and seat belt use.
  2. Distractions are no laughing matter. Share our No Clowning Around poster.
  3. Distraction is Confusion about What Matters Most – Safety. Play this Live with Lisa video to raise awareness of inattention blindness.
Unbuckled rear-seat passengers are eight times as likely to be injured or killed in a crash.

Click-Clack, Front and Back

Kids are headed back to class, so why not employees, too? Start your class by talking about one of the best ways to reduce costs associated with crashes: seat belt safety.

Here are a couple of bullet points designed to grab everyone’s attention:

  • In Texas, more than 40% of the people killed in crashes in 2018 were not wearing seat belts, according to the Texas Department of Transportation
  • Unbuckled rear-seat passengers are eight times as likely to be injured or killed in a crash than back-seat passengers who are properly restrained, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Next, tap into free resources from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to test your group on seat belt knowledge. Two quick options are available here: Myth vs. the Real Deal and What’s Your Seat Belt IQ?

Research shows men and pickup truck drivers are less likely to buckle up than others. Crash data shows that unbuckled injury and fatality incident rates rise at night. People don’t always wear seat belts in the back seat, either. IIHS conducted a survey to find out why. Reasons cited were as follows:

  • 25% said it’s safer in back, so I don’t need to buckle up
  • 13% attributed not buckling in back to habit or forgetfulness
  • 12% said the belts in back are uncomfortable or don’t fit
  • 10% said the belts and buckles were hard to find and/or difficult to use

No doubt, some of your employees travel for work or pleasure. Chances are they hail a cab or use ride-share services on occasion. The message to share: You and the driver are any car’s best safety feature. Share this free resource from Our Driving Concern: Co-Pilot Rights.

One more way to connect with your employees: Tug on their heartstrings and help them protect their own families during Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 15-21). Injuries and fatalities can be prevented by using car seats, booster seats and seat belts properly.

Plan or participate in a car seat check event on National Car Seat Check Saturday (Sept. 21). Or, post NHTSA safety materials on your social channels and in internal communications.