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October 12, 2017

Fatal Traffic Crashes Increased in 2016 - What Can Employers Do?

According to a recent DOT announcement, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015. The number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, and resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled - a 2.6-percent increase from the previous year.

These numbers come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which recently released fatal traffic crash data for calendar year 2016, collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Fatalities in crashes involving large tucks increased from 4,094 in 2015 to 4,317 in 2016. Of those deaths, just 17 percent were truck occupants. The remaining deaths were occupants of other vehicles (72 percent) or non-occupants (11 percent). 


Distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while deaths related to other reckless behaviors – including speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seat belts – continued to increase. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.

The 2016 national data shows that:

  • Distraction-related deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2 percent;
  • Drowsy-driving deaths (803 fatalities) decreased by 3.5 percent;
  • Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 fatalities) increased by 1.7 per­cent;
  • Speeding-related deaths (10,111 fatalities) increased by 4.0 percent;
  • Unbelted deaths (10,428 fatalities) increased by 4.6 percent;
  • Motorcyclist deaths (5,286 fatalities – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008) increased by 5.1 percent;
  • Pedestrian deaths (5,987 fatalities – the highest number since 1990) increased by 9.0 percent; and
  • Bicyclist deaths (840 fatalities – the highest number since 1991) increased by 1.3 percent.
Although the report does not give data on work-related traffic crashes, the increase in fatalities involving large trucks indicates an area of concern for trucking companies and other employers with commmercial drivers.

 

What Can Employers Do?


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Unlike other workplaces, the roadway is not a closed environment, so managing risks is complicated. Here's advice for employers on preventing work-related crashes, from NIOSH:

Preventing work-related roadway crashes requires strategies that combine traffic safety principles and sound safety management practices. Employers can promote safe driving behavior by providing safety information to workers and by setting and enforcing driver safety policies. Crashes are not an unavoidable part of doing business. Employers can take steps to protect their employees and their companies.

Policies

  • Assign a key member of the management team responsibility and authority to set and enforce comprehensive driver safety policy.
  • Enforce mandatory seat belt use.
  • Do not require workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their normal working hours.
  • Do not require workers to conduct business on a cell phone while driving.
  • Develop work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations.

Fleet Management

  • Adopt a structured vehicle maintenance program.
  • Provide company vehicles that offer the highest possible levels of occupant protection.

we hire safe drivers

Safety Programs

  • Teach workers strategies for recognizing and managing driver fatigue and in-vehicle distractions.
  • Provide training to workers operating specialized motor vehicles or equipment.
  • Emphasize to workers the need to follow safe driving practices on and off the job.

Driver Performance

  • Ensure that workers assigned to drive on the job have a valid driver’s license and one that is appropriate for the type of vehicle to be driven.
  • Check driving records of prospective employees, and perform periodic rechecks after hiring.
  • Maintain complete and accurate records of workers’ driving performance.

Resources:

  

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