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Drive Safely Work Week

October 2, 2012
The Daily News

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety has launched its national Drive Safely Work Week campaign.

The campaign is officially recognized on Oct. 1-5 this year, and promotes safe-driving education and awareness materials for all employees and their families.

According to a 2010 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the annual cost of medical care and productivity losses associated with injuries from motor vehicle crashes exceeds $99 billion, much of which falls on employers.

This year's Drive Safely Work Week theme, Back to Basics - Your Keys to Safe Driving, provides information and activities to address some of the most common types of traffic crashes across the general population, fleet drivers and teen drivers.

"Having safe-driving policies in place is a crucial component of an organization's safety culture," said Sandra Lee, Network of Employers for Traffic Safety Chair and Director of Worldwide Fleet Safety for Johnson & Johnson.

"Drive Safely Work Week is an ideal time for employers to take a look at their policies - particularly those covering issues such as mobile device and safety belt usage - update them if necessary, and redistribute them to employees to renew attention and focus on safe-driving behaviors," Lee said in a statement.

The Drive Safely Work Week campaign focuses on the following issues:

- Buckling up all the time and encouraging others to do the same.

- Recognizing and preventing fatigue-impaired driving.

- Driving distraction-free.

- Safe parking and backing.

- Fine-tuning the fundamentals to avoid some of the most common types of crashes.

"Much is being said these days about the dangers of distracted driving, yet responsible driving is more than driving distraction-free. This year's Drive Safely Work Week campaign reinforces the wide range of skills needed to be a safe, responsible driver," said Lee.

Indeed, distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America's roadways, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2010 alone, more than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading the effort to stop texting and cell phone use behind the wheel.

Since 2009, the department has held two national distracted driving summits, banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraged states to adopt tough laws, and launched several campaigns to raise public awareness about the issue.

The following are some frequently asked questions about distracted driving:

- Is distracted driving really a problem?

Distracted driving kills. The friends, family, and neighbors of the thousands of people killed each year in distracted driving crashes will tell you it is a very serious safety problem. The nearly half a million people injured each year will agree.

- What is distracted driving?

Distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

- If it's so dangerous, why do people do it?

Some people still don't know how dangerous distracted driving is. Others know about the risks of texting and talking while driving, but still choose to do so anyway. They make the mistake of thinking the statistics don't apply to them, that they can defy the odds. Still others simply lead busy, stressful lives and use cell phones and smartphones to stay connected with their families, friends, and workplaces. They forget or choose not to shut these devices off when they get behind the wheel.

- Who are the most serious offenders?

Our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20. But they are not alone. At any given moment during daylight hours, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.

- Sending or reading one text is pretty quick, unlike a phone conversation. Wouldn't that be OK?

Texting is the most alarming distraction because it involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction simultaneously. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of a football field, blindfolded. It's dangerous.

- Is it safe to use a hands-free device to talk on a cell phone while driving?

So far, the research indicates that the cognitive distraction of having a hands-free phone conversation causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio cues that would ordinarily help you avoid a crash.

- Why doesn't the U.S. Department of Transportation make distracted driving illegal?

Passenger car driving behavior falls under the jurisdiction of the individual states, so the U.S. DOT can't ban it. Congress has considered a number of good laws to prevent distracted driving, but unfortunately nothing has passed yet. However, many states have stepped up to pass tough laws against texting, talking on a cell phone, and other distractions.



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