Chatting with a fellow carpooler, checking voicemail on a cell phone on the way into the office, and grabbing a quick bite to eat all can be hazardous to an employee’s heath – if done while behind the wheel. That is why AAA Minnesota/Iowa is teaming up with employers across the nation to promote the ninth annual Drive Safely Work Week campaign during Oct. 3-7, 2005.
Sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), Drive Safely Work Week is a national campaign designed to help employers emphasize the importance of driving safely both on and off the job to reduce preventable crashes. This year’s campaign addresses distracted driving with the theme “Be ready. Be set. Be focused.”
“As an Auto Club and leading traffic safety advocate, we know too well the dangers of distracted driving,” said Randy Williams, president, AAA Minnesota/Iowa. “Drive Safely Work Week gives us the opportunity to reinforce this important safety message among our own employees.”
According to Williams, distracted driving results when a driver performs any activity that may distract his or her full attention from the driving task. While taking one’s eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel presents obvious risks, recent studies indicate that activities that take a driver’s mind off the driving task can be just as dangerous.
With the development and availability of in-vehicle and wireless technologies, the situation has reportedly grown even more dangerous for employees on the road and their employers. Employees today have access to a variety of technologies allowing them to do more while on the go than ever before – including the use of handheld personal communication devices and navigation systems.
“While many of these technologies allow employees to be more productive and accessible, if the devices are not use responsibly, they can significantly impair a driver’s focus and result in a crash,” said Williams. “Research indicates that not only do these devices require drivers to remove one or both hands while driving; they also significantly increase the driver’s mental workload.”
Drivers who are mentally or physically distracted react more slowly to traffic conditions and significantly reduce their “margin of safety” leading them to take risks that they may not otherwise take. It is estimated that a driver makes 200 decisions for every mile of driving. In some instances, even a momentary distraction can have devastating results.
Traffic crashes are reportedly the leading cause of death and injury in the workforce, and it often is employers who bear the human, economic and legal costs associated with a crash. The average on-the-job motor vehicle crash costs an employer $16,500. The more miles driven by employees correlate with higher costs and legal liability for their employer.
For more information on Drive Safely Work Week, visit http://www.trafficsafety.org .
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