No Distractions: Keeping Employees Safe Behind the Wheel

This month we’re observing Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Sponsored by the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Safety Council, the observance is a great way to increase public knowledge about the dangers that come with distractions while behind the wheel.

 

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that at least nine people die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes every day. That’s frightening news for anyone on the road, but for employers, it can be particularly worrisome. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), on average, a distraction-related non-fatal injury crash at work costs the employer $100,310.
 
During this month, companies pay a lot of attention to the issue of distracted driving. By running an awareness campaign, it’s easy for all drivers–from employers to employees alike–to commit to paying better attention while in the driver’s seat.
 
But that commitment can wane as time passes and drivers resume their bad habits of reaching for their smartphones or programming the GPS.
 
Companies with strong safety cultures act year-round by reducing risk in areas that protect their employees and the communities in which they operate. CEOs of leading companies committed to best practices in safety understand that safety is just good business.
 
Here are four ways companies can reinforce safe driving and protect both employees and your company and prevent distracted driving throughout the year:
 

Know the Phone and Texting Laws.

 

Since 2014, it’s been illegal for CMV drivers to text while driving. It’s also been illegal for interstate truck and bus drivers and drivers who transport hazardous materials to text or to use hand-held mobile phones while operating their vehicles. For any workers driving a company vehicle or on company time, it’s important to reinforce both national and state laws regarding the usage of hand-held devices.
 

Create a Written Distracted Driving Policy.

 

To fully protect your company, your distracted driving policy may have to extend beyond federal and local regulations. The NSC recommends creating a cell phone policy that addresses all handheld and hands-free devices for all employees, all company vehicles, all company cell phone devices and all work-related communications (even in a personal vehicle or on a personal cell phone).
 

Make Distracted Driving Awareness an Ongoing Campaign.

Commit to discussing distracted driving throughout the year. Do you have daily driver meetings before pre-trip inspections? If so, add distracted driving to the agenda once a month. Do you have regular safety training or meetings? Add a short reminder of the company’s distracted driving policy.
 

Reinforce Your Safe Driving Message.

 

Whether you use workplace digital signage or bulletin boards, capture your employees’ attention where they congregate with quick, effective visual messages about the importance of keeping their attention on the road. Incorporate distracted driving awareness with your company’s total health and safety education process, and even consider ways to reward safe driving behaviors.
 

At All Star Incentive Marketing, we create effective, award-winning health and safety campaigns. We believe safety-conscious companies understand what needs to change to enhance workplace safety. For the greatest success in building a safety culture, companies must reinforce safe work practices, build team spirit, promote group interaction, foster positive peer pressure, and engage in constant communication. If you properly motivate employees to be safe, safety improves, and safety-related costs go down.

 

In economic terms, the multiplier effect refers to the proportional increase or decrease in final income that results from an injection or withdrawal of capital. In terms of Safety Reward Programs, the multiplier effect might refer to the ROI² (Return on Incentive Investment). A properly structured program significantly impacts overall employee engagement and safety culture, where employees are attuned to safety-related issues, inspired to display “Above & Beyond” safe behaviors, willing to be safety ambassadors, and encouraged to promote learning and support continuous improvement. Such best-in-class programs are designed to promote group objectives and reward individual behavior, engaging, motivating, and rewarding the people behind your success.
 

Fortunately, there are thousands of companies in high-risk industries that have excellent safety programming, training, and coaching in place. Many include safety in their list of core values and have invested heavily in EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) technology, training, telematics, and personnel. However, too many miss the opportunity to incentivize and recognize individual safety contributions, behaviors, and performance.
 

Programs featuring tangible and experiential awards as the reward currency can have a multiplying effect that pays dividends. Benefits include a more highly engaged workforce, fewer accidents and incidents, reduced claims and losses, lower turnover and absenteeism, better communication, increased productivity, visibility to leading and lagging indicators, incremental coaching and training opportunities, and improved profitability.
 

So, what’s the rub? Are engagement programs focused on employee safety, health, and wellness expensive to implement? Do they only make sense for companies with thousands of safety-sensitive workers? The answer to both questions is no. Properly structured programs can be cost-effective and right-sized for companies with as few as 100 safety-sensitive workers up to those with 10,000 or more. The ROI² of these programs can be expressed as a ratio (in this case, 4:1), with quantitative results showing a savings of $4.00 for every $1.00 invested and qualitative results revealing higher employee morale, which serves as a catalyst for productivity. Safety Reward Programs help to mitigate risk, elevate employee engagement, and improve overall safety culture. They also present an excellent opportunity for companies to simply say thank you to their employees for being safe, committed, and engaged.
 

People have an inherent need to know that their efforts do not go unnoticed. Safety Reward Programs provide the stimulus and energy that encourage employees to perform at their best and achieve new heights.

Brian Galonek

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