During a 10-year period, the number of drivers under the influence of prescription opioids who were killed in crashes increased more than seven-fold, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Q: Do you understand how use of prescription drugs can threaten safety at your organization and impact your bottom line?
A: Don’t be too quick to say yes. In a survey conducted by the National Safety Council, 39% of employers viewed prescription drug use as a threat to safety, and just 24% said it was a problem, even though seven in 10 companies reported issues ranging from absenteeism to overdose.
Researchers at Columbia University found that the prevalence of drivers with prescription opioids detected in their systems at the time of death surged from 1% in 1995 to 7.2% in 2015, according to a news report. Three ways employers can protect themselves and their employees:
- Enact strong company drug policies
- Expand drug panel testing to include opioids
- Train supervisors and employees to spot the first signs of drug misuse
Share at your workplace: Drugs affect skills required for safe driving, including judgment, concentration and reaction time. When taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, it is best to consult with a doctor or pharmacist before driving.
Not every driver killed in an Oklahoma crash will have their blood tested. But in 2014, of those who were tested, 8% had a drug in their system in 2014, according to a report in The Oklahoman. The same report listed the top five drugs found in impaired drivers in 2015: marijuana, methamphetamine, diazepam, alprazolam and hydrocodone.
Prescription drugs and illicit drugs contribute to impaired driving issues.
Learn more: The Two Faces of Prescription Drugs
Learn How Super Fan Dave Plans for Safe Ride, Scores His Biggest Victory
Super Fan Dave works at your organization. During football season, he likes to spend “me time” partying with co-workers and friends as they watch all the action on a big screen. He scores his biggest victories when he plans, long before kickoff, for a safe ride home.
Tips for planning ahead are included in our Impaired Driving e-learning module. Learn and share with your coworkers sobering facts like this: Almost every other day an Oklahoman is killed in an alcohol-impaired crash.
In the module, you also will be reintroduced to Social Sam, the guy who loves to go to the bar after work to unwind. And you will learn to recognize if someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and therefore a risk to themselves and others on the road.
Score more points by concluding your safety talk with ideas on how to protect your organization, your employees and your community from the risks of impaired driving. Each one of our e-learning modules is fully compatible with your mobile device. Take traffic safety with you – anytime, anywhere.
One Tweet at a Time: How This Safety Ambassador Plays His Quiz Cards
At the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office Summit earlier this year, State Farm Public Affairs Specialist Jeff Davis picked up a set of Our Driving Concern Safety Coach cards. He has been tweeting their messages out for the last couple of months.
“They are a fantastic resource, concise and readable,” Davis said.
He manages community relations in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Through grant funds, he supports nonprofits and organizations that keep people safe in their cars, including Safe Kids, Generation tXt, Oklahoma Challenge, Car Care Clinic and OSU Precision Driving Facility.
“As the nation’s leading auto-insurer, we encourage responsible driving every day of the year,” Davis said. “We are committed to reducing driving-related car crashes. The quiz cards provide solid messages that I can share through social media that impact drivers in a positive way.”
All of us at Our Driving Concern are proud to call Davis a partner.
Sample his work: Driving and talking on the phone creates inattention blindness. Follow these instructions to create your own set of 72 Safety Coach cards.
Takeaway: Nightmare of Distraction Case One Nobody Wants to Repeat
In some cases, a moment of distraction can result in a lifetime of heartache.In some cases, a moment of distraction can result in a lifetime of heartache.
A 32-year-old woman lost her life in a distracted driving incident on U.S. 169 southbound near 76th Street North in May 2016, according to the Tulsa World. Her two children were hospitalized with injuries and now face the challenge of growing up without their mother. The Owasso man who crashed into the back of the woman’s vehicle was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three years in prison in August 2017.
The Tulsa World reported the driver responsible for the incident, Scott Alan Smith, said at his sentencing hearing, “It’s a nightmare I’ll carry with me the rest of my life.”
Create awareness of distracted driving at your workplace and prevent tragedies. Four resources that will help:
- Tips for Distraction-Free Driving
- On the Road … Off the Phone
- No Text Message is Worth a Life
- Sample Driving Policy: Addresses aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving and seat belt use
Worth Repeating: Drive Focused, Drive Smart and Get Home Safely
In a letter addressed to road safety colleagues, Network of Employers for Traffic Safety Executive Director Joe McKillips points to resources included in NETS’ Drive Safely Work Week Distracted Driving toolkit, including social media and email graphics.
“The materials emphasize short, direct, actionable messages, highlighting specific behaviors employees can change that will reduce their risk of a vehicle crash,” he said.
In Oklahoma, drivers 16 to 34 are most likely to be involved in distracted driving crashes where use of an electronic device was a contributing factor, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
McKillips notes NETS materials are not dated, so employers have the option to schedule a work campaign during a time that works best for them. Download the free distracted driving toolkit.
One Woman’s Influence: How Mom is Turning Tragedy into Safety Reform
Robin Abel is a traffic safety superhero. Since her daughter was blinded and nearly killed by a piece of particle board that flew off a moving trailer and crashed into her windshield, Abel has worked to create awareness of risks associated with unsecured loads.
Her efforts have led to change in two Washington state laws, making an unsecured load that significantly injures or causes death or property damage a crime punishable by fine or jail time, and making victims eligible to apply for crime victim’s assistance. Abel also has been a driving force behind placement of language in two national transportation safety bills, including one signed by President Obama in 2015.
Abel was awarded the nation’s highest road safety award for public service at the Lifesaver’s Conference in Chicago. Today, she keeps busy with speaking engagements and manages Secure Your Load, a website that includes ready-made Tailgate Talk for safety professionals.
Could Vehicle Technology Slam the Brakes on Violence?
In his blog post, National Safety Council Senior Director of Digital Strategy Alex Epstein poses the question of whether technology can put the brakes of violence.
“As if 100-plus deaths on U.S. highways every day isn’t horrific enough, we are all too often reading and hearing about cars being intentionally used as weapons and seeing unbelievable images of victims on sidewalks that have been turned into killing fields,” Epstein said.
He points to automatic emergency braking systems and how they might help reduce bloodshed.Two ways for you and your employees to stay abreast of developments in advanced driver-assist systems:
- Share: SafetyFirst blog
- Visit: MyCarDoesWhat, a resource to educate drivers on vehicle safety technologies
Employees Will Embrace Your Efforts to Protect Their Kids
A good way for employers to show they care for their employees is to promote traffic safety efforts, particularly those that keep their children safe on the road. To make that job easier, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has created a toolkit containing campaign materials to help you generate child passenger safety awareness at your workplace and in your community.
NHTSA timed the release of the kit to promote Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 17-23) and National Seat Check Saturday (Sept. 23).
Drive home the importance of your efforts with this stat from NHTSA: Every 33 seconds, a child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash. Car seats, booster seats and seat belts reduce the risk of injuries and cut down on deaths.
Or this one from NoHeatstroke.org: An average of 37 kids die each year in hot cars – 54% are forgotten in a vehicle. Create awareness, prevent tragedies.