Estimates indicate that over 400 people may lose their lives and nearly 46,000 may be seriously injured while on the nation's roads this Memorial Day Weekend, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). For commercial fleets, safe driving messaging should start in the workplace, according to the council.
Many fleet drivers will be on the job during the long weekend. Now is the time for fleet managers to prepare drivers for what to expect while behind the wheel during the weekend that signals the unofficial kick-off to the summer. Reinforcing best behavior practices can go a long way, notes the NSC.
"The things that have been killing us for years are killing us still: speeding, distraction and impairment. Fleet drivers should set a good example and slow down, drive attentively and drive sober," said Ken Kolosh, Manager of Statistics, National Safety Council. "Motor vehicle deaths — most of which can be attributed to one of these three factors — are the leading cause of workplace deaths. Employers have a significant role to play in curbing these deaths, and their drivers should model safe roadway behavior that can lead to change."
The NSC offers the following advice to fleet drivers who plan to be on the road during Memorial Day Weekend:
Prepare for Traffic
Roads will be clogged, so commercial drivers should allow plenty of time to get to their destinations. Managers and drivers alike should understand that no matter how well prepared, there is a higher chance for being late for deliveries and appointments.
Be Extra Cautious
More traffic means more crash risk, so stay alert and undistracted at all times. The NSC notes that warm-weather holidays make for more deadly roadways as compared to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Think Through Planned Routes
Fleet managers may be able to help drivers avoid or limit traffic problems by evaluating routes in advance. If a driver is scheduled to take a route that is known as particularly congested on holidays, perhaps there is a more efficient alternative that allows him or her to arrive safely and on time.
Guard Against Road Rage
Road rage is a danger to everyone. While things like congestion, speeding and distracted driving are annoying at best and risky at worst, it's important for drivers to keep calm. "If you find yourself getting upset behind the wheel, pull over and take a short break, or find a different route. When you're behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle, you must have a level head at all times," said Kolosh.
Be Alert to Impaired Driving
Impaired driving is more common during holiday weekends, when many people attend parties where alcohol is served. Commercial drivers should be aware of this trend, especially if they are driving in the evening and nighttime hours. "If you see a driver you suspect may be impaired, pull over to a safe location and call authorities. It is important to get impaired drivers off the road so they are not a danger to other roadway users or themselves," said Kolosh.
Seat belts are the lowest tech safety feature in our vehicles today, but the single most effective when worn. An estimated 157 lives will be saved this Memorial Day Weekend because of seat belts, notes the NSC.
To learn more about staying safe on the roads during Memorial Day Weekend, review this fact sheet from the NSC.