Here’s a Holiday List That Could Save Your Life

By Woody Hill, Vice President of Safety Services

By Woody Hill, Vice President of Safety Services

The holidays are a time for friends, family and lists. Preparing a turkey dinner with all the fixings for 20? Better take a list to the grocery store. Searching for the perfect gift for those nieces and nephews you haven’t seen since this time last year? You’ll be lost without a list.

Without lists, we forget things, especially during hectic times like the holidays. And when we forget things, the best-laid plans get derailed. The same goes for workplace safety programs, but Texas Mutual is here to help.

As the holiday season ramps up, so will traffic on Texas roadways. Whether on the job or off the clock, your employees will be among the masses behind the wheel, and they will be at increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.

In 2013, 3,377 Texans lost their lives in driving-related accidents. Another 89,000 suffered serious injuries. The issue extends beyond our personal lives and into our professional lives.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that motor vehicle accidents are consistently the leading causes of workplace fatalities. In fact, nearly two-thirds of people killed on U.S. roadways are members of the nation’s workforce. If those stats didn’t get your attention, try these 2013 Texas traffic accident stats:

  • Thanksgiving was the second-deadliest holiday, behind the Fourth of July.
  • Not a single day went by without a traffic-related fatality.
  • A Texan died in a motor vehicle accident every 2 hours and 36 minutes.
  • One crash occurred every 71 seconds.

Texas Mutual is working to reverse the trend in traffic accidents. In the spirit of the holidays, here’s a list of safe-driving tips that can keep you and your employees safe wherever your travels take you.

  • Wear your seat belt. Even if you’re just going “around the corner” or “up the road,” buckle up every time, and make sure your passengers do the same. Remember that the law requires drivers and passengers, including backseat passengers, to wear a seat belt.
    • Stay focused. Dialing, texting and other tasks associated with using electronic devices increase your risk of getting into a crash by three times. Put your cell phone away, including hands-free devices. Avoid eating, combing your hair, putting on makeup and doing anything else that takes your focus off the task at hand.
    • Control your speed. Speeding kills 28 Americans every day. Never attempt to make up lost time by speeding, and always adjust your speed when roads are slick, visibility is poor or you are hauling heavy loads.
    • Wake up. More than one-third of drivers report that they have fallen asleep at the wheel. Get at least seven hours of quality sleep before driving. If you get tired, pull over to a safe place and rest. On long trips, take a passenger to share driving responsibilities with.
  • Drive defensively. Every tip we’ve covered to this point is a sound defensive driving strategy. So what’s left? Around the holidays, drivers get impatient, and impatience can lead to aggressive driving. If you suspect you’re sharing the road with an aggressive driver, give them plenty of space, and do not engage with them.
  • Drive sober. Every 51 minutes, someone loses their life in a motor vehicle crash involving an alcohol-impaired driver. If you’ve had too much to drink, stay where you are, call a cab or ask a sober friend to pick you up. And remember that illegal drugs, prescription drugs and even over-the-counter drugs can compromise your ability to operate a vehicle.

More to come
Next week, we will launch a short series of blog posts digging deeper into all of these tips. Until then, on behalf of everyone at Texas Mutual, have a safe holiday season.

About the author
Woody Hill is vice president of safety services at Texas Mutual Insurance Company. He has 30 years’ experience in workplace safety and health, with field experience in the oil and gas, mining, contracting and manufacturing industries. Prior to entering the private sector, Woody 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. Woody holds a bachelor’s in environmental health and safety from Eastern Kentucky University.

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