Volume 5, Issue 6        November/December 2003


Safety Sense         preventative measures___________
A Few Facts About Safe Driving 
by Dale Malcolm

I used to work for a company that would send a memo out to all employees every fall warning of the dangers of driving on wet leaves. The memo would also talk about preparing the vans for winter driving. As an employee I thought this was silly, but I learned as a manager that this was a smart thing to do. 

Most employees know that they should drive carefully, and they will get in trouble with their employer if they have an accident in a company vehicle. The reminder memo may seem redundant, but it sends the message that the employee will probably get in even more trouble if they have an accident right after they were told to be extra careful. 

Here are some facts to remember the next time you take a trip or conduct a safety meeting.

Transportation Accidents

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2002, the highest cause of worker fatalities is transportation-related accidents. This includes highway, non-highway, air, water and rail fatalities. Twenty-five percent of these fatalities were highway incidents. 

Here are some other facts (work and non-work related): 

• There were 42,116 deaths in 2001, occurring in 37,795 crashes involving 57,813 motor vehicles. 1
• Crashes in which a vehicle rolled over accounted from 32 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2001. 1
• Fifty-one percent of motor vehicle deaths in 2001 were car occupants. 1
• Twenty-four percent were occupants of other kinds of passenger vehicle including pickups, sports utility vehicles and cargo/large vans. 1
• Deaths in pickups and sports utility vehicles have more than doubled since 1975. 1
• Driver error is responsible for 85 percent of all traffic accidents. 2
• Each year one in five drivers is involved in an accident. 2
• Over a lifetime 86 percent of all drivers will have an accident. 2
• Studies have show that 80 percent of all accidents could be prevented with just ONE more second of reaction time.
• The number-one mistake drivers make during winter driving is driving too fast. It takes 4 to 10 times longer to stop on ice and snow.
• The driving behaviors that most often lead to accidents are:

1) Driving too fast;
2) Ignoring traffic signs;
3) Following too close;
4) Weaving from lane to lane;
5) Driving in the wrong lane; and
6) Failing to yield.

Here are some common sense driving safety suggestions:

• Wear your seatbelt at all times.
• Drive defensively and always think ahead. Look for developing situations at least 12 to 15 seconds down the road.
• Don’t tailgate; you should allow a space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you that would take no less than 2 to 4 seconds to travel. This gives you the time necessary to react to sudden problems.
• Follow traffic signs and obey signal lights. A yellow caution light does not mean speed up to beat the red light. 
• Remember to pull to the right for emergency vehicles to pass.
• Maintain your vehicle in a safe condition for the driving conditions. 

Use a safety checklist to remind you and your employees to inspect vehicle before starting out in the morning or when refueling. Here are some basic items to always check:

1) Tire pressure and tread depth;
2) Fluids like brakes, windshield washer and radiator;
3) Headlights, signal and brake lights;
4) Engine oil and transmission fluid; and
5) Tools and loads are securely fastened.

The Big Three

Always remember the “Big Three” of any type of injury or accident:

1) Haste: Going fast can lead to an accident or injury.
2) Fatigue: Being tired dulls the senses and leads to an accident.
3) Distraction: Whether it’s a cell phone call or an accident on the other side of the road, either can take your mind off the task at hand.

Any one of these alone can lead to an accident and the combination of any two or all three is a recipe for disaster. Keep you mind on the road and your tires between the lines. 

Dale Malcolm is technical services supervisor with Dow Automotive/Essex ARG in Dayton, Ohio.

© Copyright 2003 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.