Whether your employees spend their workdays on the road or only drive to and from work, it pays to spend some time reinforcing safe driving habits.
The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety’s (NETS) safe-driving campaign encourages employees and their family members to “get back to basics” to help improve driving safety.
In coordination with 2012 Drive Safely Work Week, scheduled for Oct. 1-5, 2012, NETS has released a free comprehensive online toolkit to help companies improve driver safety.
The toolkit, available now, incorporates easy-to-use Web-based resources, including facts and tips, downloadable graphics, and activities.
“This year’s campaign materials take us back to the basics—to remind us of some of the fundamental skills necessary to being a safe driver,” said Sandra Lee, NETS chairperson and director for Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide fleet safety, in a statement.
“Working together, we can significantly reduce the number of traffic crashes that impact our workforce, members of our families and the communities in which we all work and live,” Lee said.
The safe-driving campaign focuses on the following issues:
- Using seat belts at all times and encouraging others to do the same.
- Recognizing and preventing fatigue-impaired driving.
- Driving distraction-free.
- Safe parking and backing up.
- Fine-tuning the fundamentals to avoid some of the most common types of crashes.
- Watch out for other drivers in the company parking lot. Drivers are more likely to be involved in a minor traffic accident in a parking lot than in any other place.
- Be careful during rainstorms. As soon as rain begins to fall, oil and embedded grime emerge through the porous surface of the roadway, creating a slippery road surface that reduces tire traction and makes driving hazardous.
- If you double your speed from 30 mph to 60 mph, the braking distance isn’t twice as long, it’s four times as long.
The safe-driving campaign materials have been designed to be easy to use. The coalition of organizations that make up NETS hopes employers “find meaningful activities that reinforce the program’s safe driving messages yet won’t take significant time away from the workday,” NETS said. All materials are electronic, in order to be disseminated easily with minimal printing needed.
“Employers are able to reach up to half of the American people, and their support in promoting safe driving habits both on and off the job is critical,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in a statement. “I applaud NETS for making this toolkit available to companies and organizations across the country, and I hope it serves as a reminder for drivers to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and focus on driving.”
NETS is a partnership between federal safety agencies and the private sector. Board members include Abbott, AmeriFleet Transportation, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Monsanto Company, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Group and UPS.
Getting Behind the Wheel Brings Risk
Some statistics employers and drivers should be aware of, according to NETS:
- In 2005, 43,443 people were killed and 2,699,000 were injured in 6,159,000 police-reported motor vehicle crashes. That comes to 17,000 reported crashes and 119 deaths daily.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all age groups from 3 to 33 years of age.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of occupational fatalities in the U.S.
- A typical driver in the U.S. travels 12,000 to 15,000 miles annually and has a one in 15 chance of being involved in a motor vehicle collision each year. With most fleet drivers traveling 20,000 to 25,000 miles or more each year, they have a greater crash exposure.
- The most dangerous part of the day for employees is the time they spend in their vehicle, with a crash occurring every 5 seconds, an injury occurring every 10 seconds, and a motor vehicle fatality occurring every 12 minutes.
- Forty-one percent of the average vehicle miles traveled per household are spent commuting to and from work (27 percent) and driving on work-related business (14 percent).
- In 2000, the economic cost of crashes to employers was $60 billion. Two-thirds of the cost was from on-the-job crashes while one-third was from off-the-job crashes for employees and their benefit-eligible dependents.
- The average on-the-job crash costs an employer about $16,500 or just under $0.16 per mile driven. Crashes involving injuries cost substantially more—$504,408 for a fatal injury and $73,750 for a nonfatal injury.
High Exposure to Employer Liability on the Road
NETS noted that over 90 percent of motor vehicle crashes are caused by human error, leaving employers with high roadway exposure at risk for a serious crash resulting in a lawsuit against their organization. Damages awarded to plaintiffs making negligence claims against companies are at an all-time high, with settlements of $1 million or more not unusual, NETS noted.
“You must understand your legal obligations when you entrust vehicles to your employees,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the Small Business Legal Center for the National Federation of Independent Business. “If you’re not concerned about your employees’ driving behaviors, you should be. It is critical that you recognize the potential liabilities employers face from business-related auto accidents,” she said in a statement in support of the NETS initiative.
Roy Maurer is a staff writer for SHRM.