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September 11, 2013
Gear up for Drive Safely Work Week coming next month

About 2,000 employees die each year from vehicle crashes and from being struck by motor vehicles on the job. Vehicle crashes cost businesses some $60 billion per year. If your employees drive to work, or drive for work, you’ll want to keep reading.

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The Network of Employees for Traffic Safety (NETS) is a public-private partnership that works to build awareness and improve driving safety. This year its Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW) observance is October 7 to 11. The theme is “Gear up for safe driving: Mind. Body. Vehicle.”

The idea is that mind, body, and vehicle are all connected and essential components to being a safe driver. The campaign focuses on issues including:

  • Regular vision screening,
  • Being well rested and properly fueled,
  • Keeping your vehicle “healthy” through preventive maintenance, and
  • Achieving the right vehicle fit.

“Driving is a physical task that requires mental focus,” said NETS chairperson and Johnson & Johnson fleet safety director Sandra Lee. “A driver’s mind and body in combination with the vehicle work together as a system.”

You’ll find more information about the campaign and a free Drive Safely Work Week toolkit at the NETS website, http://www.TrafficSafety.org.

Another valuable safe-driving resource comes from NIOSH. It is a set of two new fact sheets—one for employers and one for parents—about keeping young drivers safe on the road.

According to NIOSH, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related fatalities among people 16 to 24 in the United States. Explains NIOSH director Dr. John Howard, “Young people are the future of our workforce and bring fresh ideas and energy into the workplace; however, their lack of experience may also place them at higher risk of workplace injuries.”

The fact sheets describe the causes of the crashes. They also present case studies and recommendations for avoiding accidents.

Why do young people have more vehicle crashes?

In nearly 70 percent of accidents involving young workers, the young workers were behind the wheel. NIOSH says risks for these employees are highest in such industries as waste management, mining, and agriculture.

The chief risk factors are:

  • Driving inexperience;
  • Difficulty recognizing and responding to traffic hazards;
  • Immaturity (poor impulse control, judgment, and decision-making skills);
  • Tendency to overestimate driving skills;
  • Desire to meet employer time expectations;
  • Inconsistent seat belt use;
  • Distracted driving (talking on cell phones, texting, adjusting controls, eating or drinking, or interacting with passengers); and
  • Fatigue.

The Fair Labor Standards Act includes employers’ legal requirements to protect young workers. They are addressed in the fact sheets, which can be downloaded at http://www.CDC.gov/NIOSH. Enter “young drivers” in the search box.

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