Rules of the road
By: Mike Huss, Loss Control Consultant
Even if your workers don’t drive as part of their job responsibilities, they still probably spend a lot of time on the road whether commuting or running their kids around to activities or picking up groceries and doing other errands. And since motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death in the United States, you have a vested interest in making sure your workers understand the risks of highway driving.
Why it matters:
- Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death in the United States and the most common cause of work-related fatalities.
- Someone dies in a motor vehicle accident every 11 minutes, and someone is injured in a crash every 18 seconds, including many disabling injuries.
- Fatalities and serious injuries are particularly frequent in highway crashes because of high speeds.
Remind your workers of basic safe driving rules of the road. While these tips may seem obvious, refresher training on driving skills is always timely since many American workers spend so much time driving.
- Obey speed limits and maintain a safe following distance
- Stay at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you in good daylight conditions
- Wear a seat belt and require passengers to wear seat belts
- Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your mind on your driving
- Never drink or take drugs and drive—impaired driving is a major cause of highway crashes
- Look ahead for changes in traffic conditions and prepare to slow down
- Adjust your speed in construction zones and in bad road or traffic conditions
- If you have car trouble, pull off the highway or move into the breakdown lane
- Activate emergency flashers, stay in your vehicle, and call for help
- If you have to exit your vehicle, exit on the passenger side and stand well clear of the road
- Never change a tire on the highway unless you are clear of travel lanes and can work safely
Warn your workers to be careful of distracted driving. Highway safety experts say that drivers make 200 decisions during every mile they drive. If drivers’ full attention is not on their driving, the risk of having an accident increases. In fact, experts say that distracted driving is a factor in more than 4,000 vehicle accidents a day. Not surprisingly, cell phone use while driving is a major cause of distracted driving. Even a hands-free conversation can distract you from focusing full attention on the road. Texting while driving is also extremely distracting—and extremely dangerous.
Finally, remind employees that driving at night is almost twice as dangerous as driving during the day. And driving in bad weather also requires taking extra precautions.
Advise them to follow these driving instructions:
- Turn on lights a half hour before sunset so that you can see and be seen
- At night or in bad weather, slow down and increase following distance to at least four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you
- Use windshield wipers, lights, and defroster to maintain visibility
- Beware of light rains, which can make roads very slippery
- Avoid puddles, if possible; if not, slow down to prevent hydroplaning
- In winter, watch out for icy patches, especially on bridges and overpasses
- If you skid, take your foot off the gas, apply firm pressure to antilock brakes, and gently turn in the direction you want the front of the car to go
Source: Business & Legal Reports (BLR)