Countermeasures to reduce vehicle crashes

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According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event.

Common causes of driver inattention that lead to accidents include:

  • Dialing, talking, or listening on a cell phone (the leading distraction). 
  • Reaching for a moving object. 
  • Looking away from the forward roadway, even if for only a brief time. 
  • Drowsiness, which increases the risk of a crash by at least a factor of four. 

Your organization can help reduce the risk of accidents by:

  • Establishing clear, comprehensive, and enforceable safe driving policies and holding employees accountable. 
  • Asking employees to sign an agreement that acknowledges their understanding of policies regarding driver performance, vehicle maintenance, and reporting of moving violations. 
  • Creating a safe driving culture by posting policies throughout your building, distributing copies periodically, and discussing at staff meetings. 
  • Offering incentives for sticking to the rules and pointing out the consequences of disregarding them. 
  • Actively encouraging employee involvement at all levels. 
  • Periodically testing drivers to validate safe driving practices. 
  • Obtaining Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) and criminal background checks on all drivers. 
  • Prohibiting cell phone use when operating a vehicle. If the phone must be used, require the driver to stop the vehicle. 
  • Adding additional adult supervision when transporting children. 
  • Reviewing all crashes to determine the cause and future preventive measures. 

In addition to the above policies, address the following points with drivers:

  •  Control speed by driving 5 mph below the speed limit. 
  •  Reinforce a zero tolerance for speeding violations. 
  • Avoid the far right and left lanes except when preparing to turn; drive in the center lane as much as possible. 
  • Always maintain the appropriate following distance for the weight and size of the vehicle. Three to four seconds behind the next vehicle is recommended. • Assume other drivers will make errors.
  • Scan ahead to be ready to adjust speed, position, direction, and attention to maneuver safely if a hazard develops. 
  • Look frequently to the side and rear for passing or approaching vehicles before changing speed, lanes, or direction. 
Read more about this study and other safe driving information at www.nhtsa.gov.
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