According to the National Safety Council, more than 38,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2019 — that’s over 100 fatalities per day. The three most common causes of fatalities on the road were alcohol, speeding, and not wearing seat belts.1 Many of these crashes occurred during the workday or during the daily commute, and employers directly or indirectly bear the cost of these accidents, whether they occur on or off the job. Accidents have far-reaching financial and psychological effects on employees and their families, as well as their coworkers and employers. Similarly, when USPS employees are involved in motor vehicle accidents, the United States Postal Service, like other employers, absorbs those costs, and employees’ personal lives and finances are often adversely affected.
To highlight the importance of driving safely, the Postal Service has designated December as “Motor Vehicle Safety Month.” Historically, December is when the Postal Service experiences an increase in accident activity. Winter weather, newly hired temporary workers, and the workload associated with increased parcel volumes contribute to this rise in motor vehicle accidents.
Whether you manage a fleet of vehicles and drivers, or drive yourself, basic safe driving practices can greatly reduce the risks associated with a motor vehicle accident. Focusing on motor vehicle safety provides the following benefits:
- Saves lives and reduces the risk of life-altering injuries.
- Protects both human and financial resources.
- Guards against potential financial liabilities associated with employee accidents.
Many accidents are caused by distraction or haste when inexperienced employees drive unfamiliar vehicles in unfamiliar territory or when experienced employees fail to follow established safe driving procedures. Today’s technology tempts us to make phone calls, send texts or emails, and update social media while driving — all actions that contribute to distracted driving.
By reviewing accident data in the Safety Dashboard and analyzing the results of driver observations, Postal Service management can identify and address unsafe driving practices, and help Postal Service drivers avoid tragedy. For example, data for fiscal year 2020 shows:
- Postal Service employees had over 26,000 motor vehicle accidents in FY 2020. More than half of all motor vehicle accidents involved employees with less USPS driving experience.
- Over 11,000 USPS motor vehicle accidents occurred when the vehicle’s line of travel was straight.
- Almost two-thirds of USPS motor vehicle accident fatalities involved employees not wearing seatbelts.
The data indicates that the Postal Service can prevent motor vehicle accidents by addressing the following:
- Driving in inclement weather,
- Collisions caused by distraction or inattention, and
- Seatbelts not being used.
The Postal Service can reduce motor vehicle accidents with training and by emphasizing the importance of basic safe driving practices. By doing so, we not only reduce our accident counts, but also ensure that our employees feel prepared for their jobs. Employees are our most valuable assets; workplace driver safety programs not only make good business sense, but also engage and empower employees. During the month of December, Postal Service employees will receive stand-up talks focused on the following:
- Defensive driving,
- Distracted driving, and
- Winter driving.
Additional driver safety-related resources include:
- Safety Depends on Me videos: blue.usps.gov/corpcomm/uspstv/safety-and-health/welcome.htm.
- Handbook EL 804, Safe Driver Program: blue.usps.gov/cpim/ftp/hand/el804.pdf.
- Handbook EL 814, Postal Employee’s Guide to Safety: blue.usps.gov/cpim/ftp/hand/el814.pdf.
- Handbook EL 801, Supervisor’s Safety Handbook: blue.usps.gov/cpim/ftp/hand/el801.pdf.
- Informed Mobility Safety Observation Tool (IMSOT): services.usps.gov/imsotweb/LoginPage.html.
1. National Traffic Highway Safety Administration: nhtsa.gov/press-releases/2019-fatality-data-traffic-deaths-2020-q2-projections.
- PS Form 4584, Observation of Driving Practices: blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms/ps4584.pdf.
- Safety Dashboard (currently under construction, but coming soon).
- DMS: dms.usps.gov/delivery/driverexceptions.
- National Safety Council resources: nsc.org/road-safety.
The goal of Motor Vehicle Safety Month is to keep our drivers, and those with whom they share the road, safe. By changing attitudes about driving behavior and improving driving skills, the Postal Service can create and sustain a safety culture where everyone understands that “Safety Depends on Me.”
— Occupational Safety and Health,
Employee Resource Management, 12-3-20