A two-second task is one of the least expensive and most effective ways for Texas employers to reduce costs associated with crashes. By promoting seat belt use, you save lives and you save money. In 2016, 43.7% of people killed on state roads were not restrained when the fatal crash occurred, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. One, two: buckle your …
When it comes to seat belts, who are the risk-takers? Our Driving Concern Sr. Program Manager Lisa Robinson looks at the research. She says those who refuse to buckle up are playing a game of traffic safety roulette — and that game is costly to employers in Texas.
Our Driving Concern Sr. Program Manager Lisa Robinson explains distracted driving is anything that diverts your attention away from the task at hand, driving. Manual distractions: eating, drinking, grooming. Cognitive distractions: talking on your phone (handheld and hands-free) or daydreaming.
Most people don’t recognize when they’re tired – that tiredness often is the result of monotonous driving, one of the biggest causes of drowsy driving. Perhaps you have heard this phenomenon referred to as time-on-task fatigue. You are not going to want to sleep through this message from Our Driving Concern Sr. Program Manager Lisa Robinson.
Our Driving Concern Sr. Program Manager Lisa Robinson outlines risks associated with using hands-free devices while behind the wheel. Research indicates cognitive distraction persists long after using voice commands to make a call or send a text.
Be honest: You know what it means to experience a “micro-sleep” – that head-snapping, head-bobbing feeling that comes before you quit fighting and finally close your eyes and nod off.
If you’re behind the wheel, that experience can turn deadly.
In Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do, the Governors Highway Safety Association reports nearly 83.6 million sleep-deprived motorists are driving every day.
The cost? In 2015, an estimated 5,000 lives were lost in drowsy driving-related incidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Americans spent $109 billion for fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes, not including property damage.
- Don’t drive, pull over
- Get some rest (research indicates a 20-minute nap will remedy drowsiness, at least temporarily)
- Drink a caffeinated beverage (coffee or cola)
While technology can help, the thing to know is this: You are your best safety feature. On long trips, rotate drivers and map out rest areas.
Two Resources to Share
- Texas Department of Transportation: Use this map to locate Texas rest areas on your route
- Our Driving Concern Drowsy Driving Poster: Not Your Dream Car
“Having to tell someone their loved one is deceased, that’s one of the hardest things you ever have to do.” (Courtesy of Texas Department of Transportation)
Officer recounts the sad story of a driver who died in the lap of his fiancée. (Courtesy of Texas Department of Transportation)
You hear it almost every day: I’m running late.
In Texas and across America, busy people are always playing a game of catch-up. The game spins out of control when it spills onto roadways and motorists engage in unsafe driving behaviors, including aggressive driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as an act that occurs when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”
Aggressive driving is traffic offense. This differs from road rage, which is a criminal offense characterized by willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others. Employers need to recognize both because of the number of collisions that occur every year and how those collisions impact their bottom line.
Before Toledo-based Owens Corning implemented a cell phone distracted driving policy, the company’s leader conducted a field test.
Chairman and CEO Mike Thaman wanted to know whether enacting such a policy would impact productivity.
“He (Thaman) actually went for 90 days adhering to what would become our policy for all employees – no cell phone use, handheld or hands-free (while driving),” said Owens Corning spokesman Matt Schroder. “That he could do that without it affecting his productivity became a key factor in the messaging to employees during the implementation.”
Schroder’s remarks are highlighted in a case study conducted by the National Safety Council. The study shows how Owens Corning’s safety culture values were advanced by adopting a best-practice cell phone policy. At the same time, no loss in productivity was observed at a manufacturing company with 15,000 employees spread across the globe.
At Owens Corning, teams of employees developed their own objectives to assist in compliance and to ensure workload goals were met. This group effort epitomizes how the best safety companies push toward a vision of zero job injuries regardless of whether employees are stocking shelves or logging countless hours behind the wheel.
Just as employers took the lead in promoting safety belt use among their employees before laws were passed, oil and gas companies started a cell phone ban movement more than 10 years ago. ExxonMobil passed its policy after an extensive review of cell phone distraction research, concluding in 2004 that driving while using cell phones didn’t mesh with its safety culture.
Soon, many more Fortune 500 companies followed suit, forbidding handheld and hands-free devices.
Still, most people today are unaware of the distractions associated with hands-free and voice control features. According to a NSC poll, 80% of Americans believe that hands-free devices are safer than handheld, and 53% believe that voice control features are safe because they’re provided in vehicles. How can people make an educated choice when they don’t know crucial safety information?
Research indicates drivers using handheld and hands-free phones only see about 50% of all the information in their driving environment. It’s called, “inattention blindness.”
Potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist long after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands. In short, communication that doesn’t help you drive doesn’t need to be done while you are driving. Owens Corning used a Cell Phone Policy Kit offered by NSC as a basis to build its plan and reduce this distraction.
Distracted driving is one reason why vehicle crashes remain the #1 cause of workplace death. More than 3,000 people were killed on U.S. roadways in 2014 in crashes involving distracted drivers, according to Distraction.Gov. Another 431,000 were injured.
In 2013, the cost of crashes to U.S. employers was $47.44 billion, according to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. Of that total, $25.17 billion went for on-the-job crashes and $22.27 billion for off-the-job crashes.
Either way, employers pick up the tab. NETS reported crashes cost employers 1.628 million work days.
Employers can recoup those losses by addressing traffic safety concerns. Said another way: If you practice electrical safety on the job, why not practice safe driving behaviors, too?
All corporations are responsible for creating safe work environments for their employees. Few raise the bar higher than Owens Corning or the NAFA Fleet Management Association. NAFA extended an invitation to its members to sign a written pledge stating they will abide by the company’s zero-tolerance cell phone expectations at its Institute & Expo in April 2016.
Adopting – or strengthening – a cell phone policy is one way employers can address real or perceived pressure employees feel to be in constant communication with clients or colleagues while on the job.
Already, these policies have proven good for people and good for business. Employers without an enforced ban on cell phones are putting their companies at financial risk. Juries across America have reacted strongly in distracted driving cases, awarding plaintiffs very large damage amounts.
A jury in Arkansas found a lumber distributor liable when a salesperson rear-ended another car while talking on a cell phone. One individual was seriously injured. The verdict: $16.1 million.
“Go straight to the top, to the CEO, and get alignment in the organization,” is the advice Owens Corning shares on how to start the implementation process.
Employers are driving the cell phone abstinence philosophy by saying it’s time to bring safety and sanity back to our roads. This message is important to share because behaviors learned in the workplace often are mimicked at home.
Emails, text, voice messages and social media can wait until your vehicle is parked. None of them are worth putting your life – or the lives of others – in jeopardy.
Deborah Trombley is senior transportation program manager at the National Safety Council