It’s your job to make sure your employees remain safe on the job, but you really can’t control what happens when they leave work. You can, however, educate them on the hazards they may commonly face in daily life, including their drive home.
I’m sure we’ve all heard about distracted driving and the dangers involved. Many people still continue to drive with distractions, though, and accidents from these are far too common. Checking your phone in the car may seem innocent enough if it hasn’t caused you any harm in the past, but cutting the distractions can help to ensure the future safety of everyone around you on the road.
Smartphones are clearly a major issue today, between GPS capabilities, music streaming controls, phone calls, texting or other messaging, and even mobile games like Pokémon Go. These may be the types of things we all know as distracted driving, but there are many others as well—eating, talking to passengers, and even thinking about the workday can all take your attention from the road.
The best way to stay safe is to make a conscious effort to focus on the road and the traffic around you. Turn your phone on silent or “do not disturb,” wait until you get home to eat, and try to leave stressful thoughts at the door when you clock out.
The term “defensive driving” can seem a little dramatic, right? But the concepts of defensive driving are actually really important and helpful for avoiding accidents during your drive. So what kinds of things are we defending ourselves from? Other drivers, mostly—aggressive, distracted, or drunk—and also the road conditions.
Just because you aren’t a distracted or drunk driver, that doesn’t mean the hazards don’t exist for you. There are more than 260 million vehicles on the road (source), which means your odds of encountering a dangerous driver are pretty high. You need to know how to drive defensively in order to avoid hazardous situations on the road. The best general advice is to give other drivers space and to remain calm behind the wheel.
Other drivers aren’t the only hazard to defend against. Weather can cause serious accidents if you’re not prepared to handle it. Allow yourself extra time and following distance when there is any type of weather that might affect the road or your safe driving ability. Conditions such as snow, rain, strong winds, and fog can prove to be deadlier than you might think.
Plan Your Route
Planning your route to work? That sounds overly cautious. Maybe it does, but just hear me out. You know your daily commute without even thinking about it. But what if there’s construction? What if there’s an accident or another cause of a detour? You may not know the back roads as well as you think you do.
Many unsafe driving situations arise when someone is lost or unsure of their driving route. Think about it: When you don’t know where you’re going, do you ever slam on your brakes to make a last-second turn or cut someone off to change lanes before you miss your turn or exit? And your attention definitely is not focused on your driving or the vehicles around you if you’re looking for street signs or recognizable landmarks.
More than just driving, planning your route means being prepared for every part of the trip. If there are tolls, place your ticket and toll money where it is easily accessible. If you have card-entry parking or a parking fee, make sure those are readily available too. Always plan ahead for parking and stopping on the way for things like fuel. The more informed you are before the drive, the smoother and safer your trip will be.
Driving home safety is important for everyone. As someone who wants to see all of their employees returning to work tomorrow healthy and safe, it’s your job to make sure they are equipped with the tools to make smart decisions. Many of us drive every day—let’s make sure we’re doing it safely.