Revisiting a Potentially Fatal Safety Issue

By Woody Hill, Vice President of Safety Services

By Woody Hill, Vice President of Safety Services

What if 100 people died every day while flying? Most of us would probably stay off airplanes. But would you sell your car if you found out that statistic actually applies to driving?

It seems flying is in fact safer than driving.

Once a year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a report on the leading causes of workplace fatalities. And every year, transportation incidents sit on top of the list.

We have promoted safe driving on this blog 100 times. At the risk of sounding the like the proverbial broken record, let’s make it 101. If we can save just one life, I think it’s worth it. Don’t you?

Workplace safety thrives on buy-in from management and employees. Driver safety is no different.

Employee responsibilities:

  • Ignore the speed limit. Sure, the law allows you to drive at least 65 miles per hour on most highways. The speed limit on toll roads is as high as 85 miles per hour. But that doesn’t mean you should drive that fast. Posted speed limits are for normal driving and weather conditions. When roads are slick, visibility is poor, or if you are hauling heavy loads, slow down.
  • Put the phone down. About 80 percent of people involved in traffic accidents are distracted, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. When the cell phone rings, let voicemail pick it up. Pull over at the first convenient, safe place, and return the call or text.
  • Buckle up every time. If the law isn’t enough incentive to buckle up, consider this: The NHTSA estimates that 63 percent of people killed in traffic accidents were not wearing seatbelts.
  • Get plenty of rest. Driver fatigue is a factor in about 100,000 crashes each year, according to the NHTSA. If you’re tired, pull over at a safe place and rest.

Employer responsibilities:

  • Check records. Check employees’ motor vehicle driving records upon hiring them, and at least annually thereafter.
  • Consider drug testing. Before you implement a substance abuse testing program, consult an attorney to ensure you comply with all applicable state laws.
  • Lead by example. If you expect employees to control their speed, put the phone down, buckle up and get plenty of rest, you have to do the same.
  • Provide the resources. A modest investment in driver safety training, vehicle maintenance, an
    in-vehicle monitoring system and other resources can go a long way toward keeping your people safe behind the wheel.
  • Empower employees. Workplace safety works best when employees take responsibility for their own safety, as well as each other’s safety. Empower your staff to remind co-workers to follow safety procedures. Together, you can ensure everyone gets home safely at the end of the day.

Rest assured this is not the last time you will hear from me on this issue. As long as Texans are dying behind the wheel, Texas Mutual will be there, promoting safe driving behaviors. In fact, we’re gearing up for our annual
Give Safety a Hand campaign. Stay tuned for more news as the campaign nears.

Every morning, millions of parents drop their kids at bus stops. We trust that the adults behind the wheel have the training to get them to school and back safely. Texas Mutual wants to help ensure that happens.

In January, we partnered with Del Mar College to offer free driver safety classes to Corpus Christi ISD bus drivers. Students will learn how to comply with state and federal regulations, inspect their vehicles, drive defensively and avoid distractions.

About the author

Woody Hill is vice president of safety services at Texas Mutual Insurance Company. Hill has 30 years’ experience in workplace safety and health.

Hill holds a bachelor’s in environmental health and safety from Eastern Kentucky University. His field experience includes work in the oil and gas, mining, contracting and manufacturing industries.

Prior to entering the private sector, Hill served 14 years as an industrial hygienist at the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. In that role, he partnered with employers to develop workplace safety programs, and he provided compliance guidance on safety and health laws.

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