April 2011 Safety Tip

Driving Safety at Work

Driving safety at work is something that all employers and employees should be aware of. Auto accidents are the leading cause of injury and death for all age groups and many auto accidents occur during the workday. According to The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) these accidents "cost employers an average of $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity." Auto accidents drive up the cost of employee health insurance and worker's compensation. What's more, it's hard to ignore the huge emotional tax that accidents have on families and workplace teams.

Some Causes of Work-Related Auto Accidents

Distracted Drivers
There are many situations that compromise driving safety at work. We all have occasionally seen something as ridiculous as a fellow flossing his teeth while he was driving; super oral hygiene plan, not so great safe driving plan. Eating, talking on your cell phone, reading maps, talking to others, and adjusting the radio are other common driving distractions.

Impaired drivers
Impaired drivers are a huge road hazard. Statistics show that the average driver makes 200 decisions per mile while on the road. Plus, think about all the work related decisions you need to make daily. It's obvious you had better be thinking clearly when you're in the driver's seat. Even if you are not under the influence at work, 39 percent of all work related accidents involve alcohol so you need to protect yourself while on the road.

Identifying and avoiding an impaired driver:

  • They often weave, swerve, and drift through traffic.
  • Impaired drivers often drive with the windows down in cold weather.
  • These drivers often turn abruptly, drive slowly, or drive on the wrong side of the road.

If you see a driver acting this way you should stay a safe distance away. If it's safe to do so pull over and call the police from inside your car. You might not want to get involved but by alerting the police to a potential impaired driver you may just save a life.

Significant Issue: Drowsy Driving
The above causes of work-related accidents are important but one of the main issues today is driving while tired. According to OSHA, "drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 annual accidents." A recent National Sleep Foundation study shows that 51 percent of adults admit to driving drowsy and a whopping 17 percent report falling asleep at the wheel. Employees at the highest risk of experiencing a driving accident because of drowsiness include:

  • Third-shift workers
  • Workers who are on the road for much their workday
  • Those with unrecognized sleep disorders
  • Workers who are taking sedatives or other sleep-inducing medication

The best way to avoid an accident because of drowsiness is to be aware. Be aware of personal signs of fatigue and know how to watch out for other sleepy drivers on the road. It's important to be a good employee - but your safety and the safety of others is far more important than any job.
Think about your own workplace. Do you often drive more than you should to meet deadlines or to boost your company's bottom line?

While driving do you or your co-workers have:

  • Trouble remembering the last few miles you drove.
  • Wandering thoughts or trouble keeping your eyes open.
  • Trouble avoiding rumble strips.
  • Issues with tailgating others or missing important traffic signals.

Promote Driving Safety at Work

Tragically statistics show that many auto related accidents are preventable. A great way keep people safe and reduce accident related expenses is for employers to implement a required defensive driving training in the workplace.

Quick Tips

  1. Perform a monthly comprehensive workplace vehicle inspection on each company vehicle.
  2. Perform a visual inspection of a vehicle before you drive it.
  3. Make sure that your workplace is adequately staffed. Overworked drivers are often unsafe drivers.
  4. Follow all traffic laws and take the time to act safely and responsibly