According to the National Safety Council, more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2017. The three biggest causes of fatalities on the road were alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving. Many of these crashes occurred during the work day 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, their coworkers and families, and employers. Similarly, when USPS® employees are involved in motor vehicle accidents, the Postal Service™, like other employers, absorbs those costs, and employees’ personal lives and finances are often adversely affected.
To highlight the importance of driving safety, the U.S. Postal Service® has designated December as “Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Month.” Historically, December is when the Postal Service experiences an uptick in accident activity. Winter weather, temporary workers, increased workloads, and the holiday season all contribute to this increase.
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 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 (see poster below). Today’s technology allows us to make phone calls, send texts or emails, and update social media while driving — all actions that contribute to distracted driving.
By reviewing our accident data, the Postal Service can easily identify basic safe driving practices that can help drivers avoid tragedy. For example, in fiscal year 2018, nearly half of the 30,000 motor vehicle accidents reported by the USPS involved newer employees. The data also indicated that the Postal Service needs to address the following:
- Roll-away and run-away accidents,
- Collisions caused by distraction or inattention, and
- Seatbelts not being used.
The Postal Service can reduce motor vehicle accidents with training and consistent messaging on 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.
Other available driver safety-related resources include:
- Safety Depends on Me videos: blue.usps.gov/corpcomm/uspstv/safety-and-health/welcome.htm.
- Safety Toolkit resources: safetytoolkit.usps.gov/Home/Home.aspx.
- PS Form 4584, Observation of Driving Practices: blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms/ps4584.pdf.
- National Safety Council resources: nsc.org/road-safety.
The goal of Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention 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.”
— Safety and OSHA Compliance Programs,
Employee Resource Management, 12-6-18