November 2018

Prepare for Winter Driving Dangers

As winter approaches, weather and road conditions generally become more hazardous, increasing the risk of a crash. On average, 6,000 people are killed and 445,000 are injured in weather-related motor vehicle crashes each year. Help keep your employees safe on and off the job by sharing these tips.

Parking lot/garage safety: Holiday shopping and social events can mean driving in more congested areas with street or off-street parking. Low driving speeds in parking lots and garages may make it seem safer to use call phones or interact with the infotainment screen while driving, but these activities are not safe. In fact, parking lots are especially dangerous because distracted drivers are looking for spaces and pedestrians of all ages are walking between cars and across roadways. Always look over your shoulder before backing up, even if your car has a backup camera.

Party safety: Whether it’s a company party or a gathering at home, allowing employees or guests to leave a party unfit to drive could have deadly consequences. Remember, impairment begins with the first drink. As they leave, ensure that drivers are not impaired by alcohol, drugs or fatigue.

Plan ahead by asking party guests to:

  • Designate a sober driver who will not drink any alcohol
  • Use a taxi or ride-share company to and from the party
  • Reserve a nearby hotel room and have a sober driver take them there after the party

Weather safety: Winter weather presents extreme driving hazards in the form of ice, snow, strong winds and longer hours of darkness — often two or more hazards at the same time. Drivers need to relearn tactics such as lengthening distance between vehicles, slowing down as they approach bridges and more. In addition to windshields needing to be clear, sensors and cameras on newer vehicles need to be cleaned and cleared as well in order to function.

For a refresher on safe driving in winter weather, take the NSC 20-minute Defensive Driving Course Weather and Road Conditions.

Airbag Recalls can be Repaired in Your Parking Lot

Almost one in four vehicles on the road today has an open, unrepaired recall. That puts drivers and passengers at risk of injuries or even death. Some drivers are not aware that their vehicle is under recall, while others don’t have time to schedule a repair. You and your team are invited to visit Check to Protect to see if your vehicles are under active recall.

If your facility is in Florida, Texas or southern California, NSC can help coordinate a mobile airbag repair unit to visit your workplace. Technicians fix faulty airbags on site with employees’ permission. This service is free of charge to the employer and the employee, and may be expanding to other areas soon.

Regardless of where your workplace is located, NSC can provide free videos and social media graphics to help guide a five-minute safety talk. NSC also can help you canvass your parking lot for vehicles under recall. For more information, please contact Tom Musick at (630) 775-2381 or [email protected].

How Does Fatigue Affect Your Organization

Nearly every American employee (97%) has at least one risk factor for fatigue, and therefore fatigue likely affects every workplace. A new NSC report states that 93% of employers in safety-critical industries feel fatigue is a safety issue, but only 72% of employees agree.

This report takes a deep dive into the data for four safety-critical industries — construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities — though the insights are valuable for any organization. To understand fatigue risks and what your organization can do to minimize them, download the free report Fatigue in Safety-Critical Industries: Impact, Risks & Recommendations.

The Intersection of Business Travel and Road Safety

Business travel is a fact of life, and one that can make some employees (and employers) anxious. If employees are renting a car as part of business travel, they can use this Rental Car Checklist:

Before driving, know how to:

  • Turn the car on and off
  • Turn the headlights and wipers on and off
  • Raise and lower the windows
  • Adjust the heat, defroster and/or air conditioning
  • Adjust mirrors and seats
  • Understand the car’s safety features at MyCarDoesWhat.org
  • Program the GPS and synch audio playlists before putting the car in motion

Driving laws vary from state to state. Employees should research how laws vary in the state they are about to visit. If searching the internet for state drivers’ handbooks, be sure to click on links for “.gov” sites to get the official state rules of the road, and ensure it is the newest edition with up-to-date laws and rules. Be aware of these essential laws which can vary by location:

  • Right turn on red/left turn lanes
  • U-turns
  • Move over/slow down for emergency vehicles and first responders
  • Any specific laws or driving customs that will make you a safer driver

Whether employees drive their own vehicles or rent vehicles while they are conducting company business, they should follow all your safe-driving policies. It has been proven that hands-free cell phone use is no safer than handheld, so your policies should include a cell phone ban while driving. Find information about this and other ways to improve driver safety in the NSC Safe Driving Kit.

Effect of State-level Marijuana Legalization on the Workplace

With the decriminalization and legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in many states, writing and implementing a workplace drug policy has become even harder. And because the top cause of workplace deaths is vehicle crashes, it is especially important that drivers are impairment-free.

These facts show how difficult it is to incorporate marijuana usage into a workplace drug policy:

  • 29 states and District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana
  • Nine states and District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana
  • There is no reliable measure for an impairing level of THC, the active component of marijuana
  • Other components of marijuana remain in the bloodstream for longer than the user is impaired

Supervisors can observe employees for signs of impairment while they are working and during rest breaks. But an even better measure is to educate employees on impairment to stop it before it starts. You can start by giving a 5-minute safety talk using the NHTSA Fact Sheet, playing the “If you feel different, you drive different” video for employees and displaying the downloadable posters at work.

Everyone should:

  • Treat prescribed marijuana with the same caution as other prescription drugs that impair mental and physical abilities, such as opioids
  • Follow state laws regarding legal marijuana use
  • Understand whether employee drivers are subject to Department of Transportation regulations, which may apply if the driver is crossing state lines or if the employer has federal contracts; The DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40, at 40.151(e) – does not authorize “medical marijuana” under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result

The Governors Highway Safety Association white paper Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States provides a deeper dive into the issues and recommendations for marijuana research and policies. For additional technical information, see the 2017 NSC research document Marijuana and Driving.

Make Teenagers Part of Your Transportation Safety Efforts

The statistics are difficult to ignore.

It’s almost certain that your workforce includes parents who have teenage drivers at home. Help these employees find extra peace of mind about the new drivers in their families. DriveItHOME, an NSC program designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers, offers a variety of resources help parents to get their teenage drivers the behind-the-wheel experience they need to become safer on the road.

The initiative includes:

  • New Driver Deal for parents and teens to sign
  • Pointers for Parents: Roadmap to Teen Driver Safety, which includes weekly tips via email
  • Additional resources that parents of teen drivers will appreciate

Get more information at DriveItHOME.org.