When young people are new to the world of work, they bring special talents and advantages to the workplace, but may need increased protections and guidance. Occupational health and safety risks may jeopardize their well-being. They may only vaguely understand the dangers of various work situations and mistakenly be willing to take risks. This is where specialized training is required in order to keep them safe and help them realize that the real world of work has real-world hazards.
The enthusiasm that a young person brings to a job cannot be duplicated. However, their eagerness to please their supervisor may limit their judgment in certain circumstances that could result in an injury or accident. On-the-job driving is one of the tasks that older workers may handle best, until the new worker is ready. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits workers under 18 years of age from working as a motor-vehicle driver or outside helper on any public road or highway except that 17-year-olds may drive automobiles and trucks on an incidental and occasional basis if certain criteria are met.
Not wishing to be unfair, I have seen any number of older persons distracted while driving. However, here are some facts regarding young drivers:
- In the U.S., the crash rate per mile driven for 16-to-19 year-olds is 4 times higher than the risk for older drivers.
- A total of 4,054 teenagers ages 13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2008. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fact Sheet).
- One in four (26%) of American teens of driving age say they have texted while driving.
- One-half (50%) of all teens ages 12 to 17 say they’ve been a passenger while a driver has texted behind the wheel. (Was it their parent?)
- The percentage of young drivers who text or use other hand-held electronic devices is increasing annually.
- Drivers under 20 years old had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes (16%).
- The 20-to-29 year-old age group had the next greatest proportion of distracted drivers. (Distraction.gov/stats-and-facts).
Every company should have safety policies that prohibit the use of cell phones, unless the vehicle is stopped. Cell phones should be used for company business only. This is for the safety of the driver and for everyone else on the road. Many companies will dismiss employees if they are caught texting and driving a company vehicle.
There’s a great social movement by Allstate – designed to curb distracted driving. This is on facebook and features a combination of celebrity support, online engagement, and in-person events. This integrated social media and traditional grassroots campaign is making a difference. Over 100,000 X the TXT fans are building an activist community, and saving lives, with more than 125,000 people who have taken the pledge either online or at live events not to text and drive.
These statistics are intended for everyone that drives a vehicle, not just young people:
In a study done by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan, U.S. road fatalities dropped by 22 percent from 43,501 to 33,963, (2005 to 2009), mainly due to better use of seat belts, air bags, and a reduction in traffic because of the economy. Their studies reported, however, that federal statistics that included a code for factors involved in fatal crashes indicated a large increase in inattentive driving. Researchers at the University of North Texas Health Science Center calculated last October that drivers using cell phones killed 16,000 people from 2001 to 2007. In 2009, the U.S. government blamed distracted driving for 16 per cent of road deaths, or 5,800 persons. As we know, distractions can include conversations within the vehicle, eating, putting on makeup, reading, looking at the GPS, adjusting music, drinking, driving under the influence of drugs, as well as talking or texting on the cell phone.
Think about these facts the next time you hit the road. Leave the distractions at home. Turn the cell phone off and check for messages when you get to your destination. When you send your youngster to that new job, be sure he/she understands that there are many responsibilities in any job, and safe driving is a very important one.