Winter 2019

Checklist: Refresh, Recharge Your Driver Safety Program

Now that the new year is under way, this is the right time to review all the elements of your driver safety program to ensure it is on track for a safe 2019.

Review and update your driver safety policies. Policies and expectations should be clear, and regulations should be enforced. Drivers should be trained on policies in a consistent and ongoing manner, at least annually. Incorporate new state and federal regulations into your policies as needed. This includes employees driving personal vehicles for work purposes.

Review and renew driver agreements. Employees should “sign on the line” once a year. It is important for them to acknowledge awareness and understanding of your organization’s traffic safety policies, procedures and expectations regarding driver behavior, vehicle maintenance and reporting of moving violations. This includes renewing every employee’s Cell Phone Policy pledge, available in the free NSC Safe Driving Kit.

Develop or update your discipline action strategy. For instances of traffic tickets, crashes and policy violations, determine the course for corrective action. This may be coaching, retraining, progressive discipline or a combination of these. All policies should be enforced and all employees should be included. NSC Defensive Driver Safety Training courses include both 20-minute modules and more intensive courses that can help keep employees on track.

Improve your record-keeping. Develop and regularly update vehicle maintenance records. Review your crash report form to ensure you are capturing needed data and conducting reviews/investigations on all crashes, no matter how minor.

Looking for a comprehensive checklist? See The Essential Elements of Fleet Safety, an exclusive for Focus on the Drive readers.

Zero is the Only Acceptable Number

How did we get so complacent about the number of people who die on our roads? In 2017, over 40,000 people died in car crashes, and over 1,200 of those were on-the-job fatalities. Every one of those people had families and communities who mourned their loss. Because all roadway deaths are preventable, the only acceptable number of roadway fatalities must be zero.

How do we get from 40,000 deaths per year to zero?

We can start with universal adoption of three behaviors that will cut roadway deaths dramatically – and they are all behaviors that should be mandatory for workplace drivers. Your workplace driving policies should address these behaviors, and employees should be encouraged to follow them on and off the job.

  • Always wearing seatbelts. In 2016, 48% of passenger-vehicle occupant fatalities were unrestrained. Drivers and every passenger should buckle up in every seat, every time.
  • Never driving impaired. We lose 10,000 people every year in alcohol-involved crashes – that means one person every 48 minutes. In the last few years, opioid misuse, illegal drugs and the decriminalization of marijuana added fuel to the fire of impaired driving. A recent study from the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that of fatally injured drivers with known test results, 44% tested positive for drugs. In addition, over-the-counter medications can also cause impairment. And fatigue is now recognized as an impairment that may be contributing to occupational injuries and deaths.
  • Never driving distracted. While 47 states and the District of Columbia ban texting by all drivers, it is obvious that Americans’ addiction to their devices does not end when they get behind the wheel. No U.S. state bans all cell phone use even though studies show that hands-free cell phone use is far from risk-free. Other actions that should never be undertaken while driving are programming a GPS system, accessing playlists, engaging in voice-to-text, using other apps on phones and in vehicle entertainment systems, and every other behavior that takes focus off the road.

The National Safety Council is a founding member of the Road to Zero Coalition, an organization with the mission to eliminate roadway deaths by 2050. Learn details from the Road to Zero Report.

Don't Let Safety Features Create More Hazards

When employees get behind the wheel, they enter the most dangerous part of their day. For workers who drive as part of their job, these risks are much higher.

Fortunately, vehicles today are safer than they have ever been, in part thanks to the adoption of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). These systems include a variety of safety features, capable of doing everything from warning you when your tire pressure is low to braking the vehicle for you in an emergency. When present in a vehicle, these features can help drivers stay safe on the road. However, these types of advanced vehicle systems are not well understood and this lack of knowledge could put your workers at risk.

A recent survey from AAA, for example, found that 40% of American adults believe vehicles with partially automated driving systems, with names such as AutoPilot or Pilot Assist, are capable of driving themselves. But testing from AAA found that these systems “can be significantly challenged by everyday, real-world conditions such as poor lane markings, unusual traffic patterns and stationary vehicles.”

All current commercial vehicle safety systems, no matter how advanced, are primarily designed to assist drivers, not replace them. If one of your fleet drivers became too reliant on such a feature, he or she might pay less attention to the road and the results could be deadly.

To avoid these risks, your employees should carefully study their vehicle manuals, stay aware of which systems are available on their vehicle and understand when they should and should not be used. As you replace vehicles in your fleet, pay attention to ADAS options and choose the ones that best fit your needs, as not all systems are alike.

Driving is the leading cause of workplace fatalities, so make sure your safety systems don’t add to the risks. Learn more about these features at MyCarDoesWhat.org.

Become a Defensive Driving Instructor

Make your employees safer when you become certified to teach defensive driving courses within your own organization. Defensive drivers are better able to avoid crashes and the associated costs of injuries, fatalities, lost productivity, and equipment repair and replacement. Instead of sending people to external training courses, you can train them yourself, potentially saving safety budget dollars and ensuring everyone gets trained – including all your employees and their families.

The new 10th edition Defensive Driving Course allows instructors the flexibility to teach courses in 4-, 6- or 8-hour formats. This means you can tailor the course length and content to your audience. The course includes a library of videos and content that addresses risk assessment, driving behaviors, road conditions, traffic laws and more.

In general, training an employee-instructor is worthwhile for organizations of 25 employees or more. The eLearning Instructor Certification Course can be completed at work and at your own pace. You will learn best practices for teaching defensive driving, including how to handle common student-instructor interactions. Learn more about becoming a Defensive Driving Instructor.

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 emails with links to the free materials that will be available in March so you can plan your internal communications. Members of the National Safety Council get even more materials. Find out how and why to join.

Help Employees Bring Safety to Their Communities

According to Injury Facts, more than nine out of 10 deaths and about 80% of medically consulted injuries suffered by U.S. workers occur off the job. However, those off-the-job injuries and fatalities are costly to employers, with an estimated 350 million lost workdays and a societal cost of over $4 billion a year.

As a reader of Focus on the Drive, you already embrace a safety mindset for your workplace. Now you can help employees make their communities safer when they join the Safety Ambassador Program. People use NSC materials, tools and resources to reach the public and save lives. Sample activities include:

  • Organizing a community education event on the dangers of impaired driving
  • Sponsoring a teen driving safety program at a local high school
  • Writing letters to legislators on safety issues
  • Creating a social media campaign on proper child safety seat installation
  • More on the Get Started webpage

Announce at a company meeting or during a 5-minute safety talk that employees are encouraged to become Safety Ambassadors to keep their families and communities safer. There are no costs associated with joining for either you or your employees. After an activity has taken place, the employee submits a report to NSC, and receives a certificate and pin.

Learn more about the program and share the Safety Ambassador Program link with your employees.

Nominate a Safety Professional for an NSC Award

People who make our world safer deserve recognition for their work. Nominate safety professionals who make a difference for these NSC awards:

  • Distinguished Service to Safety Award for outstanding contributions, our most prestigious award; deadline for submission is March 4
  • Marion Martin Award for women safety professionals; deadline for submission is March 4
  • Rising Stars of Safety Award for safety professionals under 40; deadline for submission is March 10
  • Community Advancement Award for safety professionals who implement successful safety programs outside their work responsibilities; deadline for submission is March 15

Find out more at nsc.org/awards or contact Sarah Van Huis at [email protected].