Why It's Important for Employers to Stress Safe Driving Behaviors

Six out of 10 respondents in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey said they consider unsafe driving by others as a major personal threat to themselves and their families.

Specifically, survey respondents pointed to speeding as an unsafe behavior that caused concern. And that type of behavior is just one of many commonly associated with aggressive driving, defined by NHTSA as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.”

In a Texas Department of Transportation report on contributing factors in motor vehicle incidents, the numbers underscore the reason for concern. Speeding was identified as a factor in 721 incidents involving fatalities in 2014, or, almost two incidents each day. Overall, TxDOT reported speeding as a factor in 26,977 motor vehicle incidents, or, about 74 per day.

Across the country, NHTSA identified speeding as a contributing factor in 30% of all fatal traffic incidents in 2012. Perhaps it is no coincidence the public is beginning to cry for relief. Or, that a majority of survey respondents (52%) said it was “very important” to do something about speeding.

Following is a more complete list of behaviors associated with aggressive driving:

  • Following too closely
  • Making erratic or unsafe lane changes
  • Improperly signaling lane changes
  • Failure to obey traffic control devices such as stop signs, traffic signals and railroad signals

The distinction to be made when talking about aggressive driving vs. road rage typically involves the idea of assault. Road rage is a physical assault of a person or vehicle as a result of a traffic incident. This is a criminal offense punishable with incarceration.

TxDOT reported road rage was a factor in six fatalities and 1,114 motor vehicle incidents in 2014.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving behaviors can include speeding, frequent and unnecessary lane changes, tailgating, and running red or yellow lights. These behaviors create unsafe situations and can lead to road rage.
In 2014, speed was a contributing factor in 26,977 crashes in Texas, according to Texas Department of Transportation data summarized on Page 10 of this report.
Driving too fast makes it harder to react to dangerous situations, reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway, and increases the force of impact in a crash.

Road Rage

Road rage is a physical assault of a person or vehicle as a result of a traffic incident—this is a criminal offense punishable by incarceration.

In 2014, road rage was a contributing factor in 1,114 Texas crashes, according to data on Page 11 of this TxDOT report.


What Employers Can Do

The best offense is solid defensive driving skills. Talk with your employees about the risks associated with speeding and aggressive driving. Encourage them to adopt safe habits. Here are some talking points:
Always be a cautious, considerate driver. Avoid creating a situation that may provoke another motorist:
  • Don't tailgate or flash your lights at another driver
  • If you're in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let the driver pass you
  • Use your horn sparingly

If you do encounter an angry driver, don't make matters worse by triggering a confrontation:

  • Avoid eye contact
  • Steer clear and give angry drivers plenty of room
  • Don't make inappropriate hand or facial gestures
  • If you're concerned for your safety, call 911

Use or adapt this sample text to create your company’s policy on driving defensively while operating a motor vehicle on and off the job.

A project of the National Safety Council in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation.
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