December is USPS Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Month
According to the National Safety Council, almost 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2016. That marks a 6 percent increase over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014, which is the most dramatic 2-year increase in 53 years (see nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/Fatality-Estimates.aspx). The three biggest causes of fatalities on the road were alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving.
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.
Accidents have far-reaching financial and psychological effects on employees, their coworkers and families, and employers. When Postal Service employees are involved in motor vehicle accidents on or off the job, the USPS directly or indirectly bears the cost of these accidents. Motor vehicle accidents may also affect employees’ personal lives and finances.
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:
- Saves lives and reduces the risk of life-altering injuries.
- Protects our 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 Avoid Distracted Driving Poster). 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. Although hands-free technology lets us use mobile devices without taking our hands off the wheel, these devices still take our minds off the road.
By reviewing our accident data, we can easily identify basic safe driving practices that can help drivers avoid tragedy. For example, in fiscal year (FY) 2017, nearly half of the 29,000 motor vehicle accidents reported by the USPS involved newer employees. The data also indicated that we need to address the following:
- Roll away and run away accidents,
- Collisions with stationary objects, and
- Collisions with other vehicles.
The Postal Service can continue to 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 our employees. During the month of December, 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 Talk module from the Safety Toolkit: safetytoolkit.usps.gov/SafetyTalks/TalkTemplates.aspx.
- 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/learn/pages/nsc-on-the-road.aspx.
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, we can create and sustain a safety culture where everyone understands that “Safety Depends on Me.”
— Safety and OSHA Compliance Programs,
Employee Resource Management, 12-7-17