July 2018 Newsletter: Know What to Do if Your Vehicle Breaks Down

Unlock Lug Nut Mystery with Fully Stocked Emergency Supply Kit

Our Driving Concern Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road.

Q: What happens when you purchase a used vehicle, discover you need to replace two tires and can’t find the key to unlock the lug nuts?

A: Yes, it happened to me. I took my vehicle to a tire specialty shop. The employees knew what they were looking for and where to look, yet it took them some time to find the key. My key was on a shelf in the glove compartment. A call to the dealership service department is how I learned some lug nut keys are stashed in the tire well with the spare tire. Also, several manufacturers make universal locking lug nut removal tools.

I wondered: How prepared am I for a roadside emergency if I can’t change a flat tire because the lug nuts on my vehicle are locked? How prepared are you for a travel incident? Your staff? Your family? This is a good time of year to talk about roadside safety because many employees travel for vacation during the summer months.

Every vehicle should have an emergency supply kit. Store the kit in your trunk or a truck compartment. Be sure to check the kit every six months. Replace expired items. Some emergency supplies to include:

  • A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack (these items no longer come standard on all vehicles)
  • Jumper cables
  • First aid kit with gauze, tape, bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, blanket, non-latex gloves, scissors, hydro-cortisone, thermometer, tweezers and instant cold compress
  • Drinking water
  • Non-perishable, high-energy foods such as unsalted nuts, dried fruits and hard candy
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Duct tape

Be sure to add family members and emergency phone numbers to your cell phone contact list. Also include your insurance provider and a towing company. And, if you have locking lug nuts, get a spare key and keep it in your emergency supply kit, too.

Learn more: What You Should Keep in the Car
Rest Areas: Find a place to stop and take a break on your travel route
AAA Problem Prevention Checklist: What to do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down

Develop Culture of Sleep Health and Drive Down Costs Related to Fatigue

Driving while drowsy is similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Tiredness often is the result of monotonous driving. Some of your employees might be experiencing a phenomenon called time-on-task fatigue during their daily commute.

At work, fatigue can affect the well-being and safety of your employees and can impact your bottom line.

Half of respondents in a survey conducted by the National Safety Council said an employee has fallen asleep on the job, and 90% of employers said they have been negatively impacted by tired employees. An employer with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year in missed worked days, lower productivity and increased healthcare costs related to employee fatigue. Use the NSC Fatigue Cost Calculator to calculate your own costs.

Read/share in an email blast: Getting to Wellness Means Getting Enough Rest. This SafetyFirst blog was posted in conjunction with a report by NSC Senior Program Manager Emily Whitcomb: Fatigue in the Workplace: Risky Employer Practices.

Whitcomb highlights fatigue safety solutions:

  • Optimizing schedules
  • Allowing for naps where feasible
  • Educating employees about the importance of sleep and creating a culture that promotes sleep health

Watch: Time for All of Us to Wake Up to the Problem of Drowsy Driving.

Tackle Your Phone Addiction By Developing Safe Driving Habits

In a blog post published by FiveThirtyEight, Our Driving Concern Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson says safe driving can be the result of developing routine habits. Before you go, adjust the mirrors and the seat, set the radio dials and navigation system and turn off your phone notifications.

“We know when that ping comes, you will want to answer that phone,” she said.

Her tips appear in a piece by FiveThirtyEight lead science writer Christie Aschwanden, who shares a personal experience as a way dive into a discussion on cognitive distraction. Share the full story via an email blast to your workforce: Driving? Your Phone Is A Distraction Even If You Aren’t Looking At It.

Engage Truckers in Game of Follow the Leader to Reinforce Safety

Try this activity to engage your commercial motor vehicle drivers: First, ask your drivers to form a single line, separated in distance by one arm’s length. Then, direct them to march to the beat of music. Call for them to stop marching when the music stops.

You control the beat (slow and rhythmic or fast and furious). You control the music play time and can let it run for 10 seconds or 10 minutes (way too long). You also control when the music stops. When this happens, be sure to notice: Did any of your drivers clumsily bump into each other? Now, relate this to their everyday world, driving, and following too closely when they are sitting behind the wheel.

A study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration determined 5% of large truck crashes occurred when the commercial motor vehicle driver was following the lead vehicle too closely. Share these safety tips from FMCSA:

  • If you are driving below 40 mph, leave at least 1 second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. For a typical tractor-trailer, this results in 4 seconds between you and the leading vehicle. For speeds over 40 mph, you should leave one additional second.
  • Adjust your following distance according to weather conditions, road conditions, visibility and traffic. The average stopping distance for a loaded tractor-trailer traveling at 55 mph (in ideal conditions) is 196 feet, compared to 133 feet for a passenger vehicle.

Pull up this 30-second video from the U.S. Department of Transportation to finish your safety meeting: Following Too Closely. After watching, ask a few questions. Here are some suggestions from FMCSA:

  • Does the driver appear to adjust his vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe following distance with the lead vehicle?
  • Why was the lead vehicle slowing down?
  • Why did the driver brake excessively?
  • What could the driver have done differently?

SHARE: U.S. DOT Commercial Tire Safety Tips.

Co-Pilot Knows When to Activate Silent Button

Talking while driving can be distracting – doesn’t matter whether you are talking on the phone or talking with a passenger sitting in the front seat next to you. Conversations can pull your attention away from the road and can affect reaction time, lane position, speed and following distance.

Here is how you answer the question that comes up often: Is talking to a passenger as risky as talking on a cellphone while driving?


The authors of a paper published in the Journal of Safety Research used meta-analysis to determine driver interaction with passengers causes a non-negligible proportion of road crashes – 3.55% of crashes regardless of the age of passengers and 3.85% when child and teen passengers are excluded.

In Oklahoma, nearly 12% of crashes statewide involved some form of distraction in 2016, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Drivers 26 to 35 years old accounted for 22.7% of crashes involving electronic distraction. Some of them could be on your payroll.

A front-seat passenger can see when a driver is approaching a potential hazard and act like an airplane co-pilot, calling attention to the hazard while also halting conversation. The person on the other end of the call cannot see the traffic field and cannot send alert risks.

Watch: Life is Better in the Company of a Good Co-Pilot.

Crash Outcomes: Ordinary People Can Make Extraordinary Difference

In a blog post, National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman raises the question, “Given the chance, would you be ready to save a life?

She talks about her experience working as a lifeguard, summer safety and emergency preparedness. She points out 43% of people who die in crashes survive the initial event only to be pronounced dead later at a hospital. She asks, “What if we could improve those odds?”

Hersman talks about how a simple tourniquet or Stop the Bleed kit can be a lifesaver during the time known as the Golden Hour, when an injured patient’s survival-rate clock is ticking. She outlines how ordinary people can make a huge impact with some preparation and training.

She also highlights a report from the Road to Zero Coalition that identifies ways to achieve zero roadway deaths by 2050. She concludes: “Creating a culture of safety demands we start paying attention to the hazards that surround us on a daily basis and take steps to address them by changing factors within our control.”