(FRANKFORT, KY.) -The most dangerous part of the workday for many employees is the time they spend in traffic commuting to and from work. To highlight this critical time, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has designated Oct. 4 - 8 as Drive Safely Work Week, a workplace traffic safety campaign that emphasizes safe driving habits in an effort to eliminate preventable crashes.
Using the slogan "Safe drivers are good company. Make safe driving your business," the campaign focuses on five driving behaviors that motorists can practice to ensure their safety and the safety of others. The behaviors include:
Keep a safe following distance ---add another second. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that a driver will brake about 50,000 times a year to avoid crashing into a vehicle in front of them. Allow yourself room to maneuver or brake by keeping a safety cushion on all sides of the vehicle. The minimum safe following distance is two seconds, but four seconds offers more protection. In bad weather or poor road conditions, additional seconds are needed to provide a protective edge.
Steer clear of trouble ---expect bad decisions by other drivers. Every two minutes, the typical motorist makes 400 observations, 40 decisions and one mistake while driving. Never assume that other drivers will make the right decision. Be ready to react. Always expect the worst-case scenario and have a plan or escape route in mind.
Use good judgment - just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Every day thousands of drivers do things on the road simply because they can, even though they shouldn't. It is estimated that the average driver performs more than 400 illegal maneuvers before being stopped and cited. More than 90 percent of crashes are caused by driver error. The most common traffic violations include exceeding the speed limit, rolling through stop signs, failing to use signals, running red lights, making illegal U-turns, passing on the right, failing to yield to pedestrians and driving while impaired by alcohol.
Look ahead--be alert to changing traffic conditions. Roadway clues can often help to avoid a crash. Yet many drivers fail to consistently scan the road ahead for potential hazards which can result in dangerous last-minute maneuvers. Keep your windows, mirrors and lights clean and free from snow, ice dew and frost. Check your mirrors frequently. Watch for brake, reverse and hazard lights. Be aware of emergency vehicle flashing lights and listen for sirens. All of these can indicate trouble ahead.
Stay alert and focused-no one is crash-proof. Longer commutes, new in-vehicle technologies and increased traffic congestion can present drivers with a new set of potential factors and situations that can affect their driving. Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes each year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths. Aggressive driving is a factor in approximately 66 percent of all traffic fatalities. Distracted driving accounts for 25 to 30 percent of all crashes. Alcohol-impaired driving is responsible for 41 percent of all fatal crashes. Be attentive to the task at hand-driving. Staying alert and focused can help you avoid a crash.
"Every day, our troopers observe drivers engaging in dangerous behaviors that put them and others at increased risk for a crash," notes Kentucky State Police Commissioner Mark L. Miller. "Most crashes are preventable, however,” he explains. "By following these suggestions, drivers can increase their chances of avoiding a crash."
Founded in 1989, NETS is a public/private partnership dedicated to improving safety by reducing the number of traffic crashes that occur both on and off the job. Each year since 1997, the organization has sponsored the nationwide Drive Safely Work Week campaign to focus the nation's employers and the media on key traffic safety issues. For more information, visit www.trafficsafety.org.