Driver safety is integral in today’s world. Many Americans drive to and from work daily. On top of that, there is a large group of individuals that make this their occupation. Statistically, this line of work is one of, if not the most, dangerous line of work there is. The repercussions of ignoring safe driving procedures can be catastrophic.
According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), automobile accidents are the most common reason for worker deaths in the United States for ages 16-24. In 2017, there were 37,133 overall automobile deaths in the US alone (3rd most common reason for death in the US). There are many variables as to why this happens; and there is no one answer in mitigating or dramatically reducing the amount of automobile deaths.
One thing to consider is the fact that young drivers lack the experience, maturity and sometimes knowledge that many older drivers possess. NIOSH also cites poor impulse control, difficulty responding appropriately to traffic hazards, a false sense of security with their driving ability, inconsistent seat belt use and distracted driving.
As an employer, what are some precautions you can take to keep your drivers safe, as well as others sharing the road?
- Consider the age of your driving workforce. It is recommended to set a minimum age of 18 and older.
- Offer Safe Driving courses to employees, free of cost – provide initial training, as well as safety refresher training based on competency.
- Have inclement weather policies to ensure drivers are not driving in hazardous conditions.
- Provide clear corrective action standards to ensure employees understand the consequences of not following these procedures.
For employers to ensure compliance, they must have drivers inspect their vehicles prior to their shift. Vehicles must be maintained to manufacturer specifications and only maintained by qualified personnel. Also, ensure you test and retire vehicles that have become hazardous.
Today, technology is an integrated part of our lives and can be difficult to not use in an automobile. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have divided distractive driving into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions can include but are not limited to: text messages or your vehicle’s navigation program. Manual distraction occurs when you choose to pick up a beverage, piece of food, or use cosmetic products while driving. Cognitive distractions involve your brain’s inability to multi-task – such as talking on your phone or daydreaming.
The most important thing an employer can do to protect their employees is consistently enforcing safe driving policies and ensuring they understand the consequences for not adhering to them. If cell phones must be used for navigation, employees should be provided a phone mount and the phone should have all other notifications off while the vehicle is in operation.
Employees are your most valuable asset. Protecting your assets is key to keeping Workers’ Compensation premiums low, increasing production, and having the peace of mind that you did as much as you possibly could to protect your employees from one of the most dangerous jobs in today’s workforce. Stay safe out there!