Top 5 Causes of Winter Driving Accidents

Top 5 things to remember…to ensure a safe ride home for the holidays

It’s the week before Christmas and all through the office, employees excited about the upcoming holiday. Everyone ready to head to their cars and home for the long holiday weekend! It’s exciting…family, friends, gifts, last minute shopping, long weekend, too much food, too much drink, too much snow shoveling and more!

There is a lot to look forward to but you won’t be able to enjoy any of it if you don’t get home safe. With sugar plumps dancing in your head It’s easy to get distracted during the holiday season. It’s also the worst time of year to not pay extra attention while on the roads.

Whether you drive along a congested highway, a small country road or a city street under construction, chances are you or your fellow employees may have witnessed an accident this morning. Driving is something that almost every employee does on a daily basis…whether it’s business-related travel during the workday, commuting to and from work, or during off-duty hours. But regardless of when, where, or why an employee is behind the wheel, when an injury occurs, there is a devastating impact on Plateau.

We want you to get home safe and enjoy the holidays so before you leave today or tomorrow read this list and check it twice!

The “BIG 5” of driving mistakes which are behind the majority of accidents. Avoiding these five mistakes could prevent most motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths:

–Not paying enough attention to driving (Distracted Driving)
–Following too closely or tailgating
–Driving too fast—or too fast for the conditions (I.E. Weather, Lighting or Roads)
–Failing to obey traffic signs and signals
–Backing up unsafely (Parking lots)

The main focus of 2011’s Driving Safety  is on distracted driving. Distracted driving has been recognized over the past several years as one of the major safety issues on America’s roads. The transformation of cell phones into mini-wireless computers has become the number one distracting force on the road and has led to a shockingly high number of collisions, injuries, and deaths. Add to that all of the other distracting activities that a driver can engage in and it is a wonder anyone is watching the road at all. A study by the National Safety Council shows the following:

 

Behavior Increased Crash Risk
Texting 23 Times
Reaching for a Moving Object 9 Times
Dialing a Cell Phone 6 Times
Driving Drowsy 4 Times
Looking at an External Object 3.7 Times
Reading 3.4 Times
Talking on a Cell Phone 4 Times
Applying Makeup 3 Times

Ten simple steps can prevent most traffic accidents. NHTSA also urge you to promote these 10 positive steps for responsible driving:

Plan your route. Try to avoid congested roads, roads under repair, dangerous intersections, and other spots where accidents often occur.
Maintain your vehicle. Safe vehicles are routinely maintained and repaired, and visually inspected before each trip.
–Pay attention to your driving. Eyes should be on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on the driving-not drinking, eating, applying cosmetics, reading the paper, etc.
Minimize distractions. That means phones, the radio, conversations with passengers, kids and so on.
Know your surroundings. Know where you’re going and what the hazards might be along your route.
Share your space. Respect the right of way of other vehicles and pedestrians. Be a careful, defensive driver.
Watch your speed. Keep within the speed limit, and adjust your speed to traffic and weather conditions.
Keep your distance. Under normal conditions, maintain a distance of 3 seconds behind the car in front on the highway and add a additional second at night, in bad weather, feeling drowsy or when road conditions are bad.
Signal your intentions. Use your flashers to let other drivers know when you’re going to turn. Use hand signals or pump your brakes to let other drivers know when you’re slowing down or preparing to stop.
Always wear a seat belt. Seat belts save lives and prevent or minimize injuries. Everyone in the vehicle, including passengers in the back seat, should wear a seat belt-even for short trips and local driving.

Distracted or drowsy driving takes a deadly toll on the nation’s roads. In a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Transportation Research Council which concludes that in nearly 80 percent of crashes or near-crashes drivers are distracted or drowsy just before the accident. According to the study, distracted driving contributes too many more accidents than previously thought.

The study also finds that 20 percent of crashes are caused by drowsiness and that drowsiness often occurs in the morning or during the day when you’d think drivers would be wide awake. The study concludes that drowsy driving increases an employee’s risk of having an accident or near-crash on the road by four to six times.

Here are some tips to help employees deal with drowsy driving:

–Have something to eat before you leave the house. Food in your stomach will give you energy and help keep you alert.
–Have a healthy energy snack like a yogurt or piece of fruit before you leave home or work.

–Sunflower seeds, crushed ice or snack on something crunchy to keep you awake and stimulated.

–Caffeine will work for short trips but it does were off long term.
–Pull over, get out, walk around a little, and have a cup of coffee if you feel drowsy while driving.
–Ask a passenger to take over driving if you’re too tired to drive.
–Leave your car and take public transportation, ride with co-worker, or call family member or friend to come pick you up from work if you feel like you’re too tired to drive safely.

Lastly with icy and snowy conditions. Clean your car off right and don’t cut corners

I know it’s cold, and you want to cut corners and get in your warm car, but don’t give your car a quick brush down. Get all windows, hood and roof…make sure you have perfect visibility and all ice is removed. Driving in poor conditions is hard enough, don’t make it any harder.

Remember is you are traveling contact the state road condition number before you start.

Information provided by NSC  and NHTSA.

 

Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau
koswald@plateautel.com