Winter weather brings an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. Nearly 40 percent of all weather-related traffic accidents involve snow or ice, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. This seasonal danger doesn't just affect workers who operate heavy motorized equipment, delivery vans or fleet cars as part of their job. Employees who commute to work are at greater risk for car crashes in winter. Employers can't control the weather, but they can help their workers stay safe on the road, whether it's a workday or the weekend. Read on to learn what employers should know about preventing employee car accidents during winter.
The Impact of Car Crashes on a Business
There is nothing positive that comes from a car accident, including the effect on businesses. According to the CDC, employers lost $39 billion in work-related car accidents in 2019. Another statistic highlighted that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for workers across all major industries.
Whether related to their job or not, employees injured in a car accident are more likely to miss work. Other employees will need to pitch in to help their injured co-workers, potentially lowering overall productivity. Also, businesses whose employees are involved in car accidents often see their health insurance premiums increase.
Motor vehicle accidents might be the most significant threat to maintaining a healthy workforce, stable earnings and market competitiveness. Therefore, employers have a vested interest in doing their part to help reduce the number of winter-related car accidents.
Three Incentives for Employers to Promote Driver Safety:
- Save lives and prevent injuries in your workplace and community.
- Protect your financial and human resources.
How Employers Can Reduce Car Accidents in Winter
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to more people working remotely from home. Yet this option is not always available or practical. Instead, small, medium and large businesses alike can do their part to reduce wintertime car crashes using the information below.
Safe Winter Driving Tips from OSHA
OSHA encourages employers to make the following winter driving safety tips available to their employees.
- Prepare Yourself & Your Vehicle
OSHA recommends that drivers perform the following maintenance (or take their car to a trusted mechanic):
- Check battery, tire treads and windshield wipers (including rear wiper, if available)
- Add no-freeze windshield washer fluid to the reservoir
- Check antifreeze levels
2. Purchase the Following to Keep in Your Vehicle
- Flashlight with working batteries
- Jumper cables
- Abrasive material in case you're stuck in the snow (sand or kitty litter)
- Ice scraper
- Flares or other warning devices
OSHA also recommends bringing food, medication and cell phone (with car charger) for longer trips.
3. Protect Drivers & Passengers
- Always use your seat belt, no matter how short the trip.
- Use child safety and booster seats properly.
- Kids 12 and under are safest in the back seat.
4. Practice Winter Driving
- Practice stopping and accelerating on snow or ice in an empty parking lot during daylight.
- Give yourself plenty of time to allow for holiday traffic congestion, reduced visibility and decreased speeds.
- Remember that icy and snowy roads require more space between vehicles.
- Steer into a skid.
- Stomp on antilock brakes, pump non-antilock brakes.
- Keep windows, side view mirrors, headlights and brake lights clear for greater visibility.
- Look out for pedestrians who may be harder to see due to snowbanks.
Go the Extra Mile with a Company Driver Safety Program
In addition to the OSHA suggestions above, consider incorporating these ideas into a company-wide driver’s safety program:
- Allow employees to leave earlier or arrive later, depending on weather conditions.
- Offer remote work-from-home hours or days if there are official weather alerts.
- Promote your business and safe winter driving by giving employees ice scrapers or flashlights with the company logo or website.
Employers who encourage safe winter driving can help reduce their employees’ risk of winter car accidents which helps reduce lost workdays and decreased productivity. Your workforce is the most important asset of your business. By taking a few simple steps to promote safer winter driving, you can help protect employees and their families from serious injury or loss of life.