When dealing with workplace safety, transportation accidents typically aren’t the first job hazard that comes to mind. However, more than 38 percent of annual worker injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents, during the workday or while commuting to and from work. A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study reported that nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Primary causes of driver inattention are cell phone use and drowsiness. Some other high-risk distractions include reaching for objects, insects, writing or typing, applying makeup, eating and reading.
Everyone is exposed to crash risks, so driving defensively is an important way to help yourself and others stay safe while on the road. We recommend that every driver follow these steps to stay safe behind the wheel:
- Buckle up and insist your passengers do the same. Some statistics indicate that seat belts increase your chances of surviving a motor vehicle accident by about 60%.
- Know your limits. It’s important to be well rested before you get behind the wheel. Take a break about once every two hours if on a long trip, and make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get where you are going to avoid rushing, which can increase the tendency to take unnecessary risks.
- Plan ahead. Before taking off, avoid alcohol or taking medication that causes drowsiness, and always pre-program radio stations, adjust mirrors, secure or remove objects that might move around, make sure you know your directions, and walk around your vehicle to look for potential problems.
- Remain calm and stay alert. There are plenty of things drivers can do to frustrate, scare and even anger each other, but don’t take other drivers actions personally. This can sometimes be difficult to do, but is important for the safety of yourself and others.
- Stay focused. Avoid the temptation to multi-task while driving. Any time your full attention is taken away from driving, you put yourself and other drivers at risk. Talking on the phone, even with a hands-free set up, can cut your response time to your surroundings in half.
Following these safety tips can help reduce your risk of vehicle-related injuries. Safety does not happen by accident. When safety best practices are understood and practiced correctly, it becomes a plan that can help avoid or address accidents quickly and protect our greatest resource, our people.