October 1 – 5 is designated as Drive Safely Work Week.  This years’ campaign is “Back to Basics – Your Keys to Safe Driving” and is sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.  (NETS) This is the perfect time for employers to look at their policies, especially those that cover issues such as mobile device and safety belt usage, and update them in order to bring more attention to their employees exhibiting safe driving behavior. 

This is the 16th year of Drive Safely Work Week – a reminder that 16 is also the age that most teenagers get to try their “wings” behind the wheel.  There is so much emphasis on distracted driving that we sometimes forget that responsible driving enforces the wide range of skills needed to be a safe, dependable driver. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 40,000 Americans die on our highways every year.  Every twelve minutes someone dies in a vehicular accident on U.S. Roads.  Every 10 seconds someone is injured and has to be taken to an Emergency Room.  It is also estimated that in addition to the 40,000 Americans who die annually, another 270,000 are hospitalized, resulting in costs to states and our nation exceeding ninety-nine billion dollars.  Even though the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) says vehicle fatalities have declined in recent years due to newer vehicles having better safety features, and seat belt use has improved, the number of traffic deaths caused by distracted driving has increased. 

The agency reports that distracted drivers cause 4 out of 5 motor vehicle crashes in the U.S.  The main causes are cell phones and gadgets. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that more than 150,000 persons are injured in accidents caused by drivers either texting or talking on their cell phones each year.  

The DSWW campaign focuses on the following issues:

  •          Driving distraction-free;
  •          Safe parking and backing;
  •          Fine-tuning the fundamentals to avoid some of the most common types of crashes;
  •          Buckling up all the time and encouraging others to do the same;
  •          Recognizing and preventing fatigue-impaired driving. 

NETS furnishes a toolkit that is packed with tips and information to refresh some of the skills for drivers that may have become a bit rusty, and possibly teach some new ones.  It also has some good information for those who have a new driver in the family, which could help the driving coach.  This toolkit can be downloaded on the NETS website. 

U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, says, “Employers are able to reach up to half of the American people and their support in promoting safe driving habits both on and off the job is critical.  I applaud NETS for making this toolkit available to companies and organizations across the country, and I hope it serves as a reminder for drivers to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and focus on driving.”