Your employees probably spend many hours behind the wheel of a vehicle, and some may have the additional risk of working adjacent to traffic. Considering transportation fatalities accounted for 42% of all occupational fatalities in the United States in 2015 (up from 41% in 2014), let's discuss why there is such a high percentage of transportation fatalities and what we can do to lessen that risk.
More Drivers and More Miles = More Fatalities
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35,092 people died in car crashes in 2015*, which was 2,348 more than 2014. In addition, more than one half of vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. The NHTSA attributed this increase in fatalities to job growth and low fuel prices, which led to more vehicle miles driven ("VMT"). There also are more drivers on the road these days -- 212 million in 2013 compared to only 87 million in 1960.
Distracted and Impaired Driving
According to the CDC, factors that increase the probability of an automobile crash include:
- Texting/talking while driving
- Other distractions while driving
- Driving after 9 pm on a Friday, or between midnight and 3 AM on a Sunday
Keep in mind that in 2014, 30% of fatal crashes involved alcohol impairment, and that number increased to 61% if the crash occurred during the above listed hours. Also, many people, including employers, are still under the impression that hands free cellphone use is safer than hands on while driving. It is not! (See this great infographic from the National Safety Council.)
What Can We Do?
The National Safety Council observes April as "Distracted Driving Awareness Month." This is a great time to assess your company's cell phone policy or to create one if you don't have one already. There are several resources available:
The number of fatal transportation accidents had been decreasing over the last 50 years. Let's work together to make sure the recent increases in fatalities do not become the new trend!
*The National Safety Council's provisional estimate of transportation fatalities in 2016 is even higher at 40,200.