Driving Safety Home

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

Every once in a while, my body reminds me that despite my best efforts to eat right, exercise and eliminate stress, I cannot reverse the aging process. Sometimes, the reminder is subtle. Other times, it’s as clear as the nose on my face.

A few months ago, I was reading the label on a bottle of vitamins. It occurred to me that the text was a bit blurry. Granted, those labels are small, but I’d never had trouble seeing things up close. I’m near-sighted, which means I wear glasses to help me see things that are far away. Instinctually, I took my glasses off, thinking perhaps they were smudged. Two things instantly happened:

  1. The label became crystal clear.
  2. The unthinkable reality that I needed bifocals became even clearer.

I understand this blog is not a medium for me to complain about how my body is failing me right before my eyes. My visual limitations are relevant, however, and here’s why.

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) declared October 5 – 9 Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW). The annual event promotes best practices for steering clear of the leading cause of workplace fatalities.

All week, NETS has been sharing free resources around daily themes centered on a salient tagline: “#PlanAhead—Your Key to Driving Safely.” Today’s theme is near and dear to my heart.

visioncheckMore workers age 55 and older die in motor vehicle crashes than in any other on-the-job accident. And workers 65 years and older have three times the risk of dying in a crash at work compared to those between 18 and 54. Compounding the issue is the fact that more Americans are working into their twilight years.

In 1990, employees age 55 and older accounted for 12 percent of the workforce. By 2020, that number is expected to reach 25 percent.

It is critical to remember that as we age, our physical and cognitive abilities change. NETS offers these tips to keep driving skills sharp for years to come.

Employers

  • Create flexible work policies. A few small changes to work policies can go a long way toward accommodating older workers. Start by reassessing job requirements to minimize driving. Then, consider ways to reduce or eliminate night driving. Finally, offer flexible schedules that allow workers to commute during non-peak hours.
  • Facilitate fitness. Driving is not merely a visual task; it’s also a physical task. Hours spent sitting, whether at a desk or behind the wheel, take a toll on the body. Employers should encourage workers to take time during the day to move, even if it’s just a few minutes at a time.
  • Offer a wellness program. Our vision is not the only casualty of the aging process. As we get older, our reaction time, flexibility and strength falter. Employers can help employees address these issues by offering a wellness program. Wellness programs facilitate total worker health and help employees avoid all variety of workplace accidents, including motor vehicle accidents.

Employees

See Trouble Coming
Having trouble reading signs or recognizing neighbors across the street?
Is it difficult to see lane lines, medians, curbs and pedestrians, especially in the early mornings or evenings?
Is the glare from headlights uncomfortable at night?
If you answered yes to any of these, make a plan to see an eye-care professional right away.
  • Take care of your eyes. Ninety-percent of your ability to react to unforeseen driving hazards depends on your vision. Get regular eye exams, and wear your glasses when driving if your doctor recommends it.
  • Stay sharp. Your brain is mission control for safe driving. Get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and keep your mind sharp with crossword puzzles, Soduku and other brain-training games.
  • Monitor your medication. Read the labels on prescription and over-the-counter medications to find out whether they might affect your ability to drive. If you are unsure, ask your doctor.

Make safe driving a priority
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities across industries. Whether your team includes 100 drivers who transport goods across the country or one employee who occasionally takes their personal vehicle on work-related errands, you should promote driver safety. Texas Mutual encourages you to take advantage of the free Drive Safely Work Week campaign material. We also invite to use these free resources:

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