Drive Safely Work WeekOctober 7, 2010 | in Defensive Driving Tips
As you may or may not know, this week—October 4th-8th—is official Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW). While all of us should (ideally) be driving safely all the time, it’s always great to take time out to remind ourselves of the important of safe driving and to pledge to stay vigilant about maintaining safe driving practices!
DSWW is a project of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), a non-profit organization comprised of private and public organizations that are committed to ensuring traffic safety in the workplace. Each year, NETS develops and promotes a safe driving curriculum for employers. While the “official” DSWW occurs during the first week of October, these materials are available year-round and are designed to be used at any time. So, don’t worry- the week may be half over, but it’s certainly not too late to plan a Drive Safely Work Week for your company!
Each year, DSWW has a different theme. This year’s topic is distracted driving, a huge—and growing—issue in the US. Why is distracted driving such a hot-button topic? Distracted driving is involved in 20% of crashes annually—that’s over 300,000 crashes. In 2008, 6,000 people were killed and over 500,000 injured in crashes involving distracted driving.
Lack of awareness contributes to making distracted driving such a huge problem. Many of us are probably driving distracted without realizing it. Distracted driving isn’t just about talking on your phone, although that’s the leading cause of distracted driving. Anything that takes your eyes, hands, or attention away from the task of driving is a distraction. Being drowsy will increase your chance of an accident by 400%, while reaching for a moving object will make you nine times more likely to have an accident.
Distracted driving is also a bad habit, and like many bad habits, it’s hard to break. You may not realize you’re drifting off into a daydream, or fussing over the radio, until it’s too late. While driving, you can have as little as half a second to react to a dangerous situation, so there’s no time to spare for distractions.
For these reasons, raising awareness by educating yourself and those around you and making a zero-tolerance safe driving pledge to yourself are two of the best ways to combat distracted driving. The DSWW curriculum is designed to help employers and employees do these tasks together, ensuring a safer work environment, reduced liability for employers, and healthier habits for employees.
As an employer, why is promoting safe driving so important? When car accidents cause damage to company cars and injure employees, the company takes on an added burden. Plus, employers can be liable for damage caused by employees driving vehicles on company business. Essentially, legal liability is incurred when a person or company takes on a responsibility to act and then fails to do so. In the case of distracted driving and related laws, employers arguably have a clear duty to keep others safe by not allowing employees to drive distracted.
As an employee, avoiding distracted driving and implementing safe driving practices could save your life or the lives of those you love. It can also reduce stress. Taking time away from hand-held devices, work-related tasks, and family pressures while driving can be a welcome source of relaxation; you may not realize it, but multi-tasking while driving can place a lot of strain on your system. You’ll also save money on insurance premiums and car repairs. If you have children, setting a good example for them—no matter how old they are—will help to ensure they grow up to be mature and responsible drivers.
Finally, states are increasingly implementing bans on the use of mobile devices and other distractions while driving. In Texas, for example, drivers in school zones are banned from using mobile devices, as are young drivers for the first 12 months after licensing and bus drivers carrying passengers under the age of 17. Forward-thinking companies and individuals should implement safe driving policies to make sure they stay ahead of legal demands. You can find up-to-date information on state driving laws at the Governors Highway Safety Association website, www.ghsa.org.
So, how can you participate in DSWW? First, check out the resources at trafficsafety.org/dsww2010. There, you’ll find a wealth of information and other resources for employers and employees, along with materials for DSWW’s five day program.
On Day 1, employees are encouraged to update themselves on the most recent state laws and to download an interactive tool that will keep them abreast of any changes. On Day 2, employees complete a self-assessment to determine what, if any, distracted driving habits they engage in; many will likely be surprised! On Day 3, employees test drive call-blocking software, designed to inhibit cell phone use while driving. On Day 4, employees are encouraged to explore car-pooling and public transportation options. Finally, on Day 5, management and employees come together to sign safe driving pledges and to show their support for combating distracted driving.
However, ensuring safe driving in your workplace goes far beyond one week! DSWW is a great springboard for launching more comprehensive safe driving policies and practices. Another great way to improve employee driving safety is to send employees to a defensive driving course. At such a course, employees will not only be educated about distracted driving and other dangerous habits but will also learn about common emergencies encountered while driving and important strategies and techniques for avoiding and dealing with these situations. For example, do YOU know how to make an emergency lane change? If not, check out this link. How about dealing with brakes that suddenly fail? For more information on this, check out this video. These are just two of the many useful skills that your employees would learn in a defensive driving course. Plus, you may be eligible for a discount on your insurance premium; check with your provider.
Employees can complete such a course online, anywhere, and at their own convenience. To learn more, check out BusinessDriverSafety.com, the number-one ranked defensive driving course in Texas!
For more information on distracted driving, check out www.distraction.gov.← What does a double yellow line mean? | Quality Driver Safety Training →