Whether your employees are driving on or off the job, driving during the holidays is even more dangerous than at other times of the year. In addition to weather-related hazards such as snow, ice, fog and reduced visibility, they may be sharing the road with more than the usual number of impaired or fatigued drivers, as well as drivers who may be stressed by the holidays and thinking of things other than their driving responsibilities.
Here are 10 tips to improve the safety of your employees and their passengers during the holiday season.
- Eliminate exposure to the hazards of seasonal driving by avoiding unnecessary travel and conducting business using email, telephone, video conferencing, online meetings or public transportation.
- Don’t let your workers drive if road or weather conditions are unsafe, or worsening. Cancel, re-schedule, or re-route trips. Check DriveBC.ca and news and weather reports for current conditions.
- If a trip is necessary, make sure drivers select the safest route, give themselves extra time to get to their destination without rushing, and implement a check-in plan so you can keep track of their progress.
- Ensure the vehicles they drive are road worthy, have had a winter tune-up and are equipped with a matched set of four winter tires.
- Make sure work vehicles have an emergency kit that includes: windshield scraper and snowbrush, flares and matches or lighter, tire chains and gloves, first aid kit, shovel and traction mat, sand or kitty litter, flashlight and extra batteries, extra clothing and footwear and a fully charged cell phone and charger as well as bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Tell your employees to stay with their vehicle if they get stuck.
- Make sure they know how to drive for the conditions before they get behind the wheel. Winter road conditions vary around the province and can change quickly. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure they have the skills for the driving tasks you assign them. In winter this includes how to brake safely in snow or on ice, and how get out of a skid.
- Direct them to slow down and maintain a safe following distance. It takes longer to stop on slippery roads so drivers should keep at least four seconds behind the vehicle ahead of them. They should also drop their speed to match road conditions. The posted speed is the maximum speed under ideal conditions and seasonal conditions are often anything but.
- Stress and fatigue impair driving abilities. Watch for the following symptoms: inability to concentrate, headaches, being short tempered, upset stomach, aching muscles, loss of appetite and changed behaviours at work such as lower productivity, job satisfaction and morale.
- Talk to your staff about the hazards of the holidays and share resources such as Public Health Canada’s Managing Holiday Stress. To address the particular risks of driving assignments at this time of year, review Road Safety At Work’s How to identify signs of fatigue and remind employees of the steps they can take to be ready for driving assignments. Be prepared to act if you observe someone who is not fit to undertake driving responsibilities.
- Visit shiftintowinter.ca for more about safe seasonal driving.
From all of us at Road Safety at Work, enjoy your holiday! Just don’t let safety take a holiday.