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Drive Safe — Arrive Safe!
When a driver gets behind the wheel, they take responsibility for maintaining control of a two-ton machine that can easily cover a distance of more than 80 feet in one second. Operation of a vehicle must be taken seriously. Driver fatigue, unsafe traveling speeds and distracted driving are three of the biggest culprits of unnecessary vehicle-related fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says nearly 6,000 people died and more than 500,000 were injured in 2008 crashes involving a distracted driver; and the National Transportation Safety Board reported that speeding/driving too fast for conditions was the second leading cause of driving-related deaths in 2007 (most recent data available).
Both Hands on the Wheel, Please!
In a business climate with people always on the go and with an emphasis on productivity, employees may feel the urge to talk, text and e-mail while driving. However, what employees may not realize is that doing business while behind the wheel is not only illegal in several states, but it’s also extremely dangerous.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get in a crash. To reduce that number, the use of hand-held devices while driving has been banned in eight states plus the District of Columbia, and texting while driving has been banned in 30 states plus the District of Columbia.
To help avoid accidents, keep employees safe and reduce employer liability, business owners should institute a policy that does not allow the use of hand-held devices while driving. The passage of these new laws reinforces the need for such a policy. The policy should clearly state that the use of hand-held devices while driving will absolutely not be tolerated, and implications for not adhering to the policy will be enforced.
I’m Not Tired, My Eyes Are Just Heavy!
Almost every driver has experienced feelings of grogginess while driving … when it feels like your eyelids weigh 100 pounds, and the lines on the road start to blur. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, resulting in an estimated 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries.
Tired drivers should immediately find a safe place to stop the vehicle and rest. Getting some fresh air, walking around a bit and drinking a caffeinated beverage are other helpful ways a drowsy driver can get energized.
What are the warning signs of driver fatigue?
- The inability to recall the last few miles traveled
- Having disconnected or wandering thoughts
- Having difficulty focusing or keeping eyes open
- Feeling as though your head is very heavy
- Drifting out of the lane or driving on the rumble strips
- Yawning repeatedly
- Accidentally tailgating other vehicles
- Missing traffic signs
I Feel the Need for Speed!
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speed is involved in about one out of three fatal car accidents. Although speed limits are higher on highways, the vast majority of speeding-related fatalities happen on roads other than interstate highways. In fact, NHTSA’s 2006 fatality data shows that 47% of speed-related fatalities occurred on roads with speed limits of 50 mph or less.
Adverse road and weather conditions are also factors in determining a safe driving speed. The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends that drivers reduce their speed by one-third on wet roads and by half on snow-packed roads. Highway construction zones also present a deadly hazard for workers, motorists and pedestrians. When approaching work zones drivers should slow down, move to the proper lane as instructed, and follow posted speed limits. As a rule of thumb, drivers should keep in mind that the posted speed limit does not always indicate the safest traveling speed.
When to adjust driving speed:
- On wet roadways (rain, snow or ice)
- When there is reduced visibility (fog)
- On uneven roads
- In construction zones
- When entering curves
- When approaching and passing through intersections
- On gravel roads
- In heavy traffic