Kelowna engages employees with winter driving safety campaign

Promoting winter driving safety can help B.C. municipalities engage their employees and keep them safe.

Just ask the City of Kelowna. Using ShiftintoWinter.ca resources, the city launched its own internal winter driving safety campaign. It provided tips in newsletters, posters, online banners and messaging, and networking. A highlight was a safety quiz that drew some 200 responses from 20% of their workforce.

“It was fantastic,“ says Neil Domonkos, the city’s fleet and equipment trainer. “Our staff were really engaged. They were asking questions and following up with us.”

The campaign started in November to encourage employees who drive at any time – on and off the job – to plan ahead for winter. The goal was to reduce the risk of crashes.

In addition, the city became a member of the Winter Driving Safety Alliance. It’s a cross-section of more than 22 public, private, and non-profit organizations committed to working together to improve safe winter driving behaviours and practices in B.C. The Alliance supports the Shift Into Winter campaign, which is managed by Road Safety at Work.

Other municipalities can do it too

Kelowna’s campaign sets an example B.C.’s other municipalities can follow. The Alliance make it easy to do, whether or not a municipality is a member. Shift into Winter offers ready-to-use winter driving information for social media, newsletters, and websites. It also has posters and ad banners.

All of the campaign resources can be customized. Villages, towns, cities, and districts can easily add their name and logo to the materials. They can also request no-cost Shift into Winter items such as ice scrapers to pass out among staff. (Supplies are limited.)

“We’d love to see more municipalities involved,” says Domonkos. “It’s such an important message. I’ve seen incidents in the workplace that have changed peoples’ lives forever. I don’t want to see any more.”

Municipalities can also follow Kelowna’s lead by adopting winter driving safety policies. As examples, the city has winter tire guidelines and encourages staff not to drive when conditions are poor.

Safety messages applies to work and personal driving

Kelowna’s campaign reminds employees that safe winter driving isn’t limited to hours on the job. “We were aiming at everybody who works for the city to get them ready for winter, including the personal vehicles they use at home,” Domonkos explains.

It’s a necessary message, as driving habits from work spill over into personal vehicle use and vice versa. At work, drivers need to help keep themselves and their colleagues in the passenger seats safe. At home, drivers need to help keep their family and friends safe when they’re in the vehicle.

Kelowna’s fleet services, safety department, and motor vehicle incident teams put the campaign together. The city’s fleet consists of some 300 light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. They’re used by staff in many departments to carry out duties ranging from snow clearing to utilities and parks maintenance. Public Works has many full-time drivers. Other departments have part-time or occasional drivers, including building inspectors, warehouse workers, and office staff who drive to meetings.

They all face many winter driving-related hazards. Kelowna gets snowy, cold weather with rain mixed in. From October through March average nighttime temperatures dip below freezing, which can make the city’s many hilly roads icy and slippery despite Public Works’ best efforts.

Tips for a successful campaign

Municipalities still have time this season to launch their own winter driving safety campaign. The message is relevant as long as there’s a chance of snow, rain, ice, or fog.

The first step is to develop a winter driving safety program. Shift into Winter’s Employer Tool Kit, sample policies, and online courses can help municipalities develop a comprehensive program or improve an existing one.

Municipalities can then follow these tips from Kelowna to create an effective winter driving safety campaign:

Make your drivers aware of the risks they face

Almost one-third of work-related crashes that result in injury and time off work happen in winter in B.C. Overall, the number of casualty crashes during any kind of driving more than doubles. “Just getting some facts out there really seemed to start the conversation,” Domonkos says.

Provide regular updates

Start the campaign with a splash and make sure to send out frequent reminders to keep it top-of-mind for drivers.

Offer a contest

Kelowna, for example, created a quiz. Entrants could answer the questions by reviewing some ShiftintoWnter.ca material. As an incentive, the organizers offered prizes that included a set of winter tires. “Prizes really draw people,” Domonkos says. Kelowna partnered with businesses in the community to provide donations.

For more information on running a winter driving safety campaign or the Winter Driving Safety Alliance, contact Shift into Winter campaign manager Anita Deiter at anita.deiter@roadsafetyatwork.ca.

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Kelowna engages employees with winter driving safety campaign