Drive Safely to Work Week: Avoid the ‘Big 5’

October 6-10 is Drive Safely to Work Week. The event is sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), which says the week is “devoted to improving the safety and health of the nation’s workforce by promoting safe driving practices at their place of business.” That means next week is the perfect time to provide your employees with some safe driving training .

Five high-risk mistakes are behind the majority of accidents. NETS says that when you talk to employees about safe driving, you should emphasize key high-risk driving mistakes. Avoiding these five mistakes could prevent most motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths:

•        Not paying enough attention to driving
•        Following too closely
•        Driving too fast
•        Failing to obey traffic signs and signals
•        Backing up unsafely

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Ten simple steps can prevent most traffic accidents. NETS also urges you to promote these 10 positive steps for responsible driving:

  • Plan your route. Try to avoid congested roads, roads under repair, dangerous intersections, and other spots where accidents often occur.
  • Maintain your vehicle. Safe vehicles are routinely maintained and repaired, and visually inspected before each trip.
  • Pay attention to your driving. Eyes should be on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on the driving—not drinking, eating, applying cosmetics, reading the paper, etc.
  • Minimize distractions. That means phones, the radio, conversations with passengers, and so on.
  • Know your surroundings. Know where you’re going and what the hazards might be along your route.
  • Share your space. Respect the right of way of other vehicles and pedestrians. Be a careful, defensive driver.
  • Watch your speed. Keep within the speed limit, and adjust your speed to traffic and weather conditions.
  • Keep your distance. Under normal conditions, maintain a distance of 2 seconds behind the car in front on the highway and 4 seconds at night, in bad weather, or when road conditions are bad.
  • Signal your intentions. Use your flashers to let other drivers know when you’re going to turn. Use hand signals or pump your brakes to let other drivers know when you’re slowing down or preparing to stop.
  • Always wear a seat belt. Seat belts save lives and prevent or minimize injuries. Everyone in the vehicle, including passengers in the back seat, should wear a seat belt—even for short trips and local driving.

Distracted or drowsy driving takes a deadly toll on the nation’s roads. NETS points to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Transportation Research Council which concludes that in nearly 80 percent of crashes or near-crashes drivers are distracted or drowsy just before the accident. According to the study, distracted driving contributes to many more accidents than previously thought.

The study also finds that 20 percent of crashes are caused by drowsiness and that drowsiness often occurs in the morning or during the day when you’d think drivers would be wide awake. The study concludes that drowsy driving increases an employee’s risk of having an accident or near-crash on the road by four to six times.

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Here are some tips to help employees deal with drowsy driving:

  • Have something to eat before you leave the house. Food in your stomach will give you energy and help keep you alert.
  • Have a healthy energy snack like a yogurt or piece of fruit before you leave work.
  • Pull over, get out, walk around a little, and have a cup of coffee if you feel drowsy while driving.
  • Stop and take a short 10-15 minute nap if you can’t keep your eyes open.
  • Ask a passenger to take over driving if you’re too tired to drive.
  • Leave your car and take public transportation, ride with co-worker, or call family member or friend to come pick you up from work if you feel like you’re too tired to drive safely.

Why It Matters…

According to NETS:

  • Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death and injury in the nation’s workforce.
  • A traffic crash occurs every 5 minutes in the United States and many of those who are involved are employees commuting to or from work.
  • While most employees think they’re good, safe drivers, national traffic accident statistics indicate otherwise (6 million crashes that resulted in 42,642 fatalities and just under 2.6 million people injured in one recent year).
  • Most traffic accidents are preventable if employees know and follow some simple, common-sense rules of the road.