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A serious car crash can have impacts that stretch beyond those in the passenger compartments. While individuals sustain the first and worst injuries of a collision, companies also feel the hurt, which is why they should take steps to prevent crashes.
One such crash involved Patricia and Steve (not their real names) from Houston, Texas. Their SUV was hit by another driver while they were sitting at a stop sign, leaving both severely injured.
"When we saw how completely wrecked the vehicle was, we realized how lucky we were to both survive the crash," Patricia said.
They both went through multiple surgeries, doctor visits and rehab. They couldn't care for themselves or their family, and they were incapable of working for an extended period. Both are now fully recovered, but their time away from work and the financial aftermath suffered by them and their employer was substantial.
Unfortunately, these stories are all too common. Driving is an activity many of us do every day, and that makes it easy to forget how dangerous it can be. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, and in 2015, 2.4 million roadway users were injured.
Over the more than 20 years spent developing road safety programs for a multinational Fortune 500 company, I heard many stories, including that of Patricia and Steve and others where the outcome was not so positive. I also saw the emotional impact these crashes have on co-workers and the organization overall.
The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes to Employers 2015 Report states that these crashes add up to a staggering estimated annual cost to employers of $47.4 billion in direct crash-related expenses, which include medical care, liability, lost productivity and property damage. The impact on employers is significant because they are affected by crashes that occur both on and off the job.
That's why employers have a unique and powerful opportunity to influence their employees' driving habits – and literally save lives. Those with robust road safety programs understand that whether an employee is involved in a crash on the job or off the job, it still affects the employer.
The old cliché of "what gets measured, gets done" is certainly true when developing an employer driving safety program. One place to start is to measure a company's cost of crashes, both on the job and off the job. This knowledge enables management to develop a business case that supports investment in employee-wide safe driving programs. This task is now easier with the new Cost of Collisions Calculator, developed by NETS through a cooperative agreement with NHTSA, which allows companies to figure their specific costs of collisions.
To further enhance a company's safe-driving business case, employers can combine this knowledge with a detailed overview of the most successful employer road safety programs, found in NETS' annual Strength in Numbers® report. The report provides valuable data and real-world examples to compare your company's program with the best in the business.
They say that knowledge is power. In this case, knowledge can help you to reduce risk and save lives. What could be more powerful than that?
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