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Improving Employee Driving Safety: Advice for Employers

During week four of National Safety Month, employers across the country are focusing on renewed driver safety training among workers who operate company vehicles. Unfortunately, road accidents result in millions of injuries each year—injuries and damages that can be costly for your company and detrimental to its reputation.

By dedicating a portion of your Safety Month training to key driving safety concepts, including defensive driving and distracted driving, you can refresh your employees’ safe driving strategies and potentially avoid on-the-job accidents. Not sure where to begin? We have some suggestions for incorporating key safe-driving concepts into your training this week.

The Importance of Defensive Driving Strategies

Defensive driving is a strategy that all drivers within your organization should not only be familiar with, but should be practicing behind-the-wheel on a daily basis. Specifically, defensive driving refers to a series of strategies and techniques that aim to avoid common road dangers, including accidents caused by inclement weather, impaired drivers, and distracted drivers.

The basic idea of defensive driving is to always assume the worst of other drivers. When merging on the freeway, for example, defensive driving would dictate that you should never “assume” other vehicles are going to see you and yield to you as you attempt to merge.

Defensive driving safety training classes are offered through IMPROV® Learning, so you might consider enrolling employees in a class of their own or, at the very least, reviewing key defensive driving concepts and strategies during this time. After all, when practiced regularly by employees behind-the-wheel, defensive driving has been found to:

  • Reduce instances of motor vehicle accidents
  • Reduce workers’ compensation claims
  • Protect brand reputation
  • Cut down on insurance and company vehicle repair costs
  • Reduce overall liability costs related to vehicle accidents

Common Driving-Related Dangers

In addition to enrolling your workers in defensive driving courses where relevant, Safety Month is also an appropriate time to review some of the more common driving-related dangers with your employees—along with the practical steps they can take to avoid these kinds of hazards while behind-the-wheel.

Distracted Driving

These days, instances of distracted driving account for an overwhelming proportion of vehicle crashes. And in recent years, employers have begun to be held liable for accidents that occur when employees are driving while speaking on their cell phones (even when using hands-free devices).

Because cell phones are one of the main contributors to distracted driving, now may be a fitting time to review your organization’s policies when it comes to cell phone use while operating company vehicles. Many organizations have strict rules against texting while driving, but very few advise employees not to take work-related phone calls while behind-the-wheel. This could be increasing your company’s potential liability risk in the event of an accident, and it may be worth training employees to save phone calls until they have arrived safely at their destinations.

Of course, cell phone use isn’t the only potential source of distracted driving. Some other possible sources of distracted driving that can affect employees include:

  • Eating or drinking behind the wheel
  • Listening to music at a high level while driving
  • Not paying attention to the road
  • Conversations with other people inside the vehicle

Employees should be extensively trained on these common distractions and how to avoid them in order to reduce their risk of causing an accident that your organization could end up liable for.

Drowsy Driving

Did you know that about one in five adults admits to have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point? This is a sobering statistic for many. Combine this with the fact that drowsy driving has been proven to be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, and it becomes abundantly clear why it’s so important to incorporate education about this serious hazard into your organization’s safety training.

When a driver isn’t well rested before getting behind the wheel, they are compromising not just their own safety, but the safety of others motorists as well. After all, when a person is fatigued behind the wheel, decision-making becomes impaired and reaction times slow down significantly. This means that if a fatigued driver comes across a sudden road obstacle, he or she is less likely to be able to brake, evade, or otherwise react in time to avoid an accident.

To help cut down on drowsy driving risks among your employees, here is some helpful advice you can pass on and instill as part of your organization’s training. For starters, make sure employees are trained to identify signs of fatigued driving, such as:

  • Difficulty keeping eyes open
  • Drifting out of one’s lane or hitting rumble strips
  • “Zoning out” or not remembering parts of a drive
  • Missing exits or other road signs

If an employee experiences fatigue while driving, he or she should be instructed to pull off the road whenever safely possible to rest. And while caffeine may be helpful in increasing alertness, employee drivers should be encouraged not to rely on caffeine to keep them awake if they haven’t gotten at least six hours of sleep before embarking on a long drive.

Nighttime Driving

For employees who do a fair amount of their driving at night, special training on the potential dangers of nighttime driving should be provided. After all, nighttime is the statistically most dangerous time to drive due to compromised vision and the increased risk of driver fatigue. Furthermore, there tend to be higher numbers of impaired drivers on the road at night, so employees could be at a greater risk of getting into an accident based on this fact alone.

Nighttime drivers can benefit especially from defensive driving techniques as well as being aware of common signs of impairment among other drivers. For example, they should be on the lookout for (and avoid) drivers who:

  • Have trouble staying in their lanes
  • Do not keep a consistent speed
  • Drive erratically or make lane changes without signaling

Employees who do any amount of nighttime driving should also receive special training on the dangers of fatigued driving, as explained above.

Optimizing Your Organization’s Safety Training

When your organization has drivers on the road, risk and liability is inherently higher based on this fact alone. As a result, your organization’s safety managers and trainers have even more of an obligation than ever to provide effective and lasting safety training to its workers.

Unfortunately, even if your organization has a driver safety training program in place, there’s a good chance that your workers are failing to retain up to 90% of their learnings within just a month of training. This is where innovative training technologies that are proven to increase learning retention can come in handy. Specifically, microlearning modules and repetition of key concepts can help drastically improve your employee driver safety outcomes and boost your overall return on investment for safety training to up to 600%.

At IMPROV® Learning, we specialize in offering the training concepts your employees need to stay safer behind the wheel and in other workplace roles. Contact our team today to find out more about how we can help you take your organizational safety training to the next level.

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