February 2018

    Transportation Deaths Most Common Fatal Workplace Event

    Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a 7% increase in workplace deaths from 2015 to 2016. Fatal work injuries reached 5,190 in 2016, the third consecutive annual increase and the first time in nearly a decade the number has surpassed 5,000.

    Transportation incidents remained the most common fatal event, totaling 2,083 deaths and 40% of all workplace fatalities. While many people think falls are the leading cause of workplace fatalities, transportation incidents are more than twice as common. In addition, civilian workers in transportation and materials moving had the highest number of fatal work injuries by occupation, at 1,388.

    Other statistics of note:

    • Fall, slip and trip deaths increased 6%, totaling 849 deaths
    • Overdoses from non-medical use of drugs or alcohol on the job increased 32%, from 165 in 2015 to 217 in 2016
    • Unintentional workplace deaths increased 5%, totaling 4,399 deaths
    • Homicides increased 19.9%, now totaling 500 deaths

    How can you improve workplace safety performance? NSC offers free resources, such as the Safe Driving Kit and Prescription Drug Employer Toolkit. The Campbell Institute at the Council provides helpful information in its white paper, "Defining EHS Excellence: Best Practices from Campbell Award Winners." Employers can also join the Road to Zero coalition to help end fatalities on our roadways.

    Interested in learning more? The BLS news release on 2016 fatal workplace injuries offers an interactive graphic that displays workplace fatality data by industry, occupation and other demographics.

    Can the Textalyzer Fight Distracted Driving?

    Manufacturers of the Textalyzer, an electronic device currently in development, claim it can scan cell phones to determine if they were tapped or swiped at a certain time. The device does not read or download content, and the phone doesn't even need to be unlocked. It may allow law enforcement officers to determine if a phone was being used at the time of a crash or driving incident.

    In January 2018, the National Safety Council testified before the City of Chicago Committee on Public Safety in support of technology that can help curb distracted driving. The Textalyzer has the potential to help investigators make a preliminary determination about the cause of a crash, although the device may have little effect on distracted driving.

    While 14 states plus District of Columbia have laws banning all handheld cell phone use while driving, and 46 states plus District of Columbia ban texting while driving as of March 2016, not one state has a law banning all cell phone use while driving. That means hands-free use of cell phones and infotainment systems is legal, even though it's no less distracting than handheld use.

    A better solution is to keep traffic tickets and vehicle crashes from happening in the first place. You can help keep workers safe and limit your liability risk by implementing an employee cell phone policy using the tips and tools in our free Cell Phone Policy Kit.

    NSC takes it a step further by asking all employees to sign a No Cell Phone pledge. Employees, contractors and faculty agree not to interact with cell phones, either handheld or hands-free, while driving. The evidence shows that hands-free cell phone use is no safer than handheld, and we believe in keeping each other safe on the road. Download a free infographic to hang on bulletin boards, in lunchrooms and near the fleet area.

    Defensive Driving Experts Shares Insights

    As part of his defensive driving courses, James Solomon poses the following question to students.

    A green light means:

    a. Go. (period)
    b. Go! (exclamation mark)
    c. Go, (comma)

    Which answer would you select? Why?

    The proper response is "c," according to Solomon, who leads the National Safety Council defensive driving training programs (DDC). The comma represents a pause while a driver scans the intersection and makes sure it is safe before accelerating.

    "Go, comma, when clear and safe to do so," Solomon said. "Just because the light is green, you don't always go. These lessons focus on getting people to understand those types of things."

    For more than four decades, Solomon has taught the principles of defensive driving. He knows better than anyone at NSC about the past, present and future of driver training.

    In the early days of the automobile, someone would buy a car and learn how to drive it through trial and error. Such errors were preventable, of course, through proper training. The first wave of training targeted teen drivers, but in the 1960s, NSC determined that similar courses could benefit adult drivers as well.

    Another shift took place in the 1990s. Before then, much of the DDC philosophy had focused on technical aspects of driving, such as where drivers should put their hands on the steering wheel. Solomon started looking at the psychology of the driver. What choices do you make while driving? Why? How could your decisions affect yourself and your loved ones? He has asked chronic offenders in his DDC courses to write their own obituary.

    "I've seen grown men in tears," Solomon said, "when they realize everything they do on the road is risking everything their family ever worked for."

    The driving task could change in the future as vehicles become equipped with automated features. However, Solomon thinks training and education will remain essential to understand the new technology and stay safe.

    Solomon, the first NSC employee to receive the coveted Distinguished Service to Safety Award, will retire from his full-time position this spring. He has had a profound influence on improving safety on our roads.

    "There has been a lot of change, and the Council has allowed me to change with it," Solomon said. "The Council has never been locked in the old world. We're constantly looking for what is new, what will impact more people, and what will motivate people to change the way they look at safety. Our pilot programs, working with people, getting letters from people whose lives have been saved — that tells you that defensive driving works."

    Are your drivers up to date with their defensive driving training? Check out NSC courses for drivers of all types of vehicles on our Defensive Driving Safety Training page.

    Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities Reach 20-year High

    Distracted driving and distracted walking are two of the factors that have contributed to pedestrian traffic fatalities reaching their highest levels in more than two decades. Nationwide, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in 2016, a 9% increase over 2015, according to a NHTSA report.

    Some pedestrians put themselves at risk. In fact, a Governors Highway Safety association report release last year revealed 82% of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. occur outside of intersections. The majority occurred in travel lanes (72%), or outside travel lanes, such as shoulders and driveways (10%).

    Employers pay for injuries, whether they occur on or off the job, through everything from the cost of higher insurance premiums to lost productivity as a result of employees missing work. Off-the-job crashes account for more than 80% of employer crash-related health benefit costs. Half of crash-related injuries cause employees to miss work.

    What can you do at your workplace to safeguard pedestrians and protect your bottom line? Think "Heads Up and Phones Down." Share a few basic tips from the National Safety Council in your weekly e-newsletter or company intranet:

    • Look left, look right and look left again before crossing the street
    • Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to ensure they see you
    • Never use a cell phone or electronic device while walking
  • Safety Spotlight

    Our Bold Goal: Eliminating Traffic Fatalities by 2050

    Tens of thousands of people die on U.S roads every year, and the fatality trend is going in the wrong direction. The Road to Zero coalition aims to change that. Launched in 2016 as a partnership between the National Safety Council, the U.S. Department of Transportation and all three of its modal agencies, the goal of Road to Zero is to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2050. To meet this challenge, the initiative brings together individuals and organizations from a broad spectrum of industries and backgrounds. After little more than a year, the Road to Zero coalition now includes more than 625 members. Quarterly meetings are held in Washington, D.C. and are available via webcast. The March 20 meeting will focus on commercial vehicle safety. Find out more and register.We invite anyone who wants to be a stakeholder in ending roadway fatalities to join. Membership is free and includes access to the Road to Zero Communications Toolkit, designed to help you promote your membership and play a major role in ending roadway deaths. The kit contains:
    • Key messages
    • Press releases
    • Social media posts
    • Blog posts
    • And much more

    To learn more about the Road to Zero initiative and join the coalition, visit nsc.org/roadtozero. It is only through a coordinated effort that we can achieve zero deaths by 2050.

    Participate in Distracted Driving Awareness Month

    In April, double down on distracted driving education by sharing a wealth of free NSC materials dedicated to eliminating injuries and fatalities from distracted driving. You can spread these important messages with employees and their families through:
    • Posters
    • Fact sheets
    • Infographics
    • Social media posts

    Register to participate in Distracted Driving Awareness Month. You'll receive communications with links to free webinars and materials. Members of the National Safety Council get even more; find out how and why to join.

You Can Help

Cell phone distracted driving is an issue that touches all of us. Your contribution will help NSC continue to save lives by reducing crashes on our roadways.

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Download the NSC Cell Phone Policy Assessment Tool for Free

All cell phone distracted driving policies are not created equally. Download the free Cell Phone Policy Assessment Tool from NSC so you can see how your policy measures up.