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April 1, 2014

Focus on Alcohol Awareness and Distracted Driving for the Month of April

TextingAndDrivingBlogThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) have marked April as the month to raise awareness for alcohol abuse, with the National Safety Council also recognizing April as Distracted Driving Month.  These are important topics to cover not only in your personal life, but also in the workplace.

Alcohol Awareness

People drink to socialize, celebrate, and relax.  However, alcohol often has a strong effect on people, and excessive alcohol use can lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver diseases, and cancer. 

According to the NCADD, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States –“Out of millions who hold full time employment in the United States, close to fifteen million are heavy drinkers of alcohol, exacting a high cost on work organizations.”

In the workplace, the impact of alcoholism can cause major issues:

  • Premature death/fatal accidents
  • Injuries/accident rates
  • Absenteeism/extra sick leave
  • Loss of production
  • Tardiness/sleeping on the job
  • Theft
  • Poor decision making
  • Loss of efficiency
  • Lower morale of co-workers
  • Increased likelihood of having trouble with co-workers/supervisors or tasks
  • Higher turnover
  • Training of new employees
  • Disciplinary procedures

Some facts about alcohol in the workplace from NCADD:

  • Workers with alcohol problems were 2.7 times more likely than workers without drinking problems to have injury-related absences.
  • A hospital emergency department study showed that 35 percent of patients with an occupational injury were at-risk drinkers.
  • Breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in 16% of emergency room patients injured at work.
  • Analyses of workplace fatalities showed that at least 11% of the victims had been drinking.
  • Large federal surveys show that 24% of workers report drinking during the workday least once in the past year.
  • One-fifth of workers and managers across a wide range of industries and company sizes report that a coworker’s on- or off-the-job drinking jeopardized their own productivity and safety.

As NCADD rightly points out, “Work can be an important and effective place to address alcoholism and other drug issues and by establishing or promoting programs.”  To learn more, download the NCAAD fact sheet “Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Workplace” here.

Distracted Driving

Of course we all know that we should never drive after we’ve been indulging in our favorite alcoholic beverages. But what about that “one quick phone call” when we’re behind the wheel or that “it will just take a second” text message we want to read? That’s distracted driving and it can be just as deadly as driving while under the influence. According to the United States Department of Transportation, distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing, including visual, manual, and cognitive distractions.

Though some activities while driving may seem harmless enough, the consequences of not paying attention on the road can be disastrous to you and those around you.  We want to make sure that you know how to stay safe out there on the roads. Type of distracting activities include (http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html):

  • Using a cell phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player

While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, there are two kinds that soar above the rest as being the most dangerous: 1 – texting, because it involves all three types of distraction listed above (visual, manual, and cognitive), and 2 – drunk driving, where the driver’s vision, dexterity, and cognitive faculties are themselves impaired.

How critical is the fight against distracted driving? In the U.S., the federal government has created a dedicated website to raise awareness, called http://www.distraction.gov/.  This site reveals some surprising facts on distracted driving:

  • 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent (University of Utah)
  • U.S. drivers got behind the wheel after drinking too much about 112 million times in 2010
  • Though episodes of drinking and driving have gone down by 30% during the past 5 years, it remains a serious problem
  • Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009. A recent CDC report discusses drinking and driving and the proven measures that can help

Read more on Distracted Driving Month at NSC.

Driver Safety Programs and Free Downloadable Whitepaper from Summit

We don’t want your drivers to become statistics. Help keep them safe and stay in compliance with DOT driving regulations and enforcement programs in your state with Summit’s interactive, multi-media driver safety programs that include:

  • Forever And Ever: The Lasting Consequences of Distracted Driving
  • DOT/CSA: Profiled in Safety
  • Driver Training: Street Smart
  • Road Rage
  • Driver Attitude

Summit’s free whitepaper download on distracted driving explains just why it is so important to have all your drivers understand their responsibility to recognize distracted driving and avoid those interferences at all costs.  Click below to download:

Distracted Driving – Affecting Change with Forever and Ever >>

Stay safe out there!

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