Transportation

Safe Golf Cart Operations

HawkerPosted by Tonya Hawker

Golf carts have become quite a popular commodity these days, and not just for playing golf.  In fact, golf carts are used not only in country clubs, but also on automotive dealership lots, large manufacturing facilities, and even between buildings on large properties like schools, hospitals, hotels, and entertainment venues.  So yes, golf carts have become a fast, cheap, maintenance free way to get around a large foot-print.  However, driving a small, silent vehicle around a bustling facility can also present significant hazards.  A quick search of the OSHA website revealed over 120 incidents resulting in citations, injuries, and fatalities related to golf cart use.

 

Golf CArt

Here are a few hints to help reduce this exposure…

  • Controlled Access: Allow only specific employees to access or use the vehicle.  Controlling access can limit horseplay and unnecessary use.
  • Safety Rules: Require users to read and sign a copy of the company’s safety rules for the vehicle.
  • Identification: Assign a designated traffic route for use by the golf cart that doesn’t interfere with pedestrian or other vehicular traffic.  Consider highlighting the traffic patterns with marking paint to inform others of the traffic routine.
  • Enforcement: Administer strict disciplinary action for improper use or behavior by revoking privileges or terminating employment.  Safety compliance is critical!
  • Battery Charging: Charging should only be done in areas designed for that purpose. The area should be well ventilated and have spill response materials available to clean-up electrolyte spills.  Charging devices should be equipped with automatic shut-off devices.

Also consider clearly posting golf cart operating rules on all carts and don’t forget about training.  Golf Cart Operating Rules should be reviewed with designated drivers at hire and annual refresher training completed to reinforce the expected behaviors.  See sample rules below:

 

Golf Cart Safety Rules

  • Golf carts should be operated on clearly identified paths or perimeter roadways. Sidewalks should be used only where roadways &/or parking lots are not available, and then, only to the nearest adjacent street or parking lot.
  • Keys to unused golf carts should be controlled to prevent unauthorized use.
  • When operating the cart, always stay to the far right side of the lane to allow other vehicles to pass.
  • Always obey traffic rules and regulations.
  • Use extreme caution near building entrances. Park the vehicle away from doors, walkways, or covered areas.
  • Golf carts should be operated at a safe speed. The speed should be no faster than a well-paced walk.  Speed may also be subject to terrain, weather conditions, and total weight of the golf cart… So be cautious of your environment.
  • All occupants MUST keep hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the golf cart while it is moving.
  • No golf carts should be operated with more passengers than the seating provides. All passengers MUST be seated while cart is in motion.
  • Never back up without making sure there are no people or obstructions blocking the travel route.
  • Pedestrians always have the “right of way”.
  • Approach sharp or blind corners with caution and reduce speed.
  • NEVER operate golf cart on steep hills or severely sloped terrain. Stay on flat areas.
  • Never leave keys in a golf cart unattended.
  • When the golf cart is not in motion, the control lever should be placed in PARK (or neutral position) with the PARKING BRAKE SET. Then remove the key.

 

 

Additional information can be found at Golf Cart Safety.com, and from EHS Daily Advisor


 


Traffic Fatalities Increase… Drive to Stay Alive

KlattPosted by Randy Klatt, WCP

The National Safety Council recently announced that traffic fatalities for 2015 rose significantly from the previous year.  The estimated 38,300 people killed on US roads represent the largest year for year increase in 50 years, and makes 2015 the deadliest year since 2008. 

Lower gasoline prices and job growth have had an impact on the number of miles driven in the last few years, but the rise in fatalities seems to be outpacing the rise in miles driven.  The following excerpt is taken directly from the National Safety Council:

"These numbers are serving notice: Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, NSC president and CEO. "Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake in spite of decades of vehicle design improvements and traffic safety advancements. Engage your defensive driving skills and stay alert so we can reverse this trend in 2016."  

In a continuation of the bad news, preliminary numbers indicate this trend is continuing in 2016.  In the first six months of 2016 traffic fatalities increased 9% over 2015.  Add to this the 2.2 million people injured in crashes in those six months.  Every driver should be concerned; 100 people dying on the roads every day is simply unacceptable.  

Driving-deaths

So what do we do about this?  The increase in driving plays a part in the increase in fatal crashes, but so does complacency, distraction, speeding, and fatigue.  These are all factors that are within our control as average drivers.  Getting behind the wheel includes the inherent responsibility for our own safety, but also for the safety of everyone else we encounter on the roadway. 

Technology improvements have made vehicles safer than they have ever been.  Survivability rates in many models are unprecedented.  However, the driver is still the weak link in the chain and all the technology in the world currently does not make up for poor decision making.  The future may include driverless cars, but in 2016 we, the vehicle operators, are still responsible for nearly every crash that occurs. 

The solution to the problem is actually pretty straightforward:

  • Avoid driving when fatigued.
  • Plan your trip and leave with plenty of time to account for weather or traffic delays.
  • Follow the rules of the road… always.
  • Never mix driving with alcohol or drugs that may impair your ability to drive.
  • Never, never, never text while driving.
  • Let phone calls go to voice mail, and pull over to a safe area before making a cell phone call in the vehicle. No text or phone call is worth the increased risk of a crash.

For additional information regarding safe driving practices check out the resources available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Safety Council, and the National Transportation Safety Board.   Let’s all make a concerted effort to reverse this recent trend.  The life you save may be your own!


Distracted Driving & Work Zone Awareness

Driven to distraction, why do we need another stupid reminder?

Sometimes we all do stupid things, especially when we try to do too many things at once. If one of those things involves 4,000 pounds of metal and glass moving at high velocity, a small lapse in judgment can be catastrophic. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and this is Work Zone Awareness Week because when there is road construction and traffic gets worse and time is running out and frustration begins to grow - that is when you need to be extra vigilant.

Here are a few things worth remembering every time you get in a vehicle, because forgetting really can hurt:

  • Get the big picture, stay focused and be on the lookout for signs and flaggers
  • Be courteous and follow at a safe distance
  • Watch your speed
  • Allow for sufficient time, don't rush
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Pull safely off the road if you must talk or text
  • Don't read maps, papers, texts, emails, etc. while driving
  • Don't use any electronic devices while driving, even "handsfree" devices
  • Don’t multitask such as eat, smoke, apply make-up or other grooming activities

Pretty obvious stuff, right? So why do we take on so much unnecessary risk with such foolish behavior?

One answer is complacency. When we do something every day, it is easy to forget the risks involved and start pushing the limits. We don't slow down, we start to rush things, we become distracted, we try to do two or more things at once. Everything seems fine until there is one small change too many. The environment changes and we don't notice, someone else who we assumed was paying attention wasn't, someone sees something we don't and slams on the brakes. Maybe there is plenty of blame to share, but you know you weren't being vigilante. You weren't looking out for yourself and those around you. You had become complacent and distracted. Most of the time, it doesn't matter much when we have such momentary lapses in judgment. But sometimes it really does matter. When we are driving we need to constantly remind ourselves that this is a high risk activity.

Click these links to find out more about Distracted Driving Awareness Month and National Work Zone Awareness Week. Policyholders can find more safe driving resources on the MEMIC online Safety Director.

Final Render 1080 HD_2


Still Plenty of Winter Driving to Go!

David-Darnley Posted by Dave Darnley, MS, CHSP

We're not quite out of the woods yet...there is still plenty of winter driving ahead, especially in the Northeast. So regardless of what the groundhog had to say yesterday, let's make sure we take proper precautions to stay safe in any forthcoming winter driving conditions.

Safe Winter Driving Tips:

  • Do not use cruise control if roads are icy, could become icy, or there is significant rain or standing water on the roadways. Loss of control could result as the car attempts to maintain the set speed.
  • Slow down in snow / ice conditions! Maintaining vehicle control becomes more difficult as the road conditions deteriorate, and this worsens with increasing speed. Stopping distance becomes much longer as well.
  • Use caution on bridges, overpasses, and highway exit ramps. These surfaces can freeze more quickly or are often not plowed and salted as frequently as the major roads.
  • Avoid making abrupt moves, such as quick braking or acceleration.
  • Track the weather before you leave to know what may be ahead and plan accordingly. Remember the old saying: Ice and Snow, Take it Slow!

Lastly, as the snow begins to melt there may be an accumulation of water on the road. This can be just as dangerous as ice as your car can hydroplane. This occurs when water builds up between the tire and the road resulting in momentary control loss. Higher speeds and tread style and wear are the most significant factors. To learn more about hydroplaning, and how to prevent it, take a look at information available from SafeMotorist.

For additional safe winter driving tips check out the online resource from the Auto Insurance Center, or previous posts from the Safety Net.


National Stop On Red Week

Tony Soares 2014 Posted by Tony Soares, CSP, CHMM, CSHE

This year the first week in August has been designated the National Stop on Red Week by The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR). This designation is intended to remind every driver to obey the traffic safety rules, especially to be extra cautious when approaching intersections during this week and beyond.

Here are some safety tips to remember:

  • When making a right turn on red lights (when allowed) make a full stop and ensure it is safe to continue before completing the turn.
  • When stopped at a red light that has just turned green give it a second or two before proceeding to ensure there are no hazards such as other drivers attempting to beat the red light.
  • When approaching a crosswalk, give the pedestrians the right of way. Don’t pass stopped traffic at a crosswalk; there may be a pedestrian crossing that you cannot see.
  • Pay close attention to the traffic signal in your lane. Remember that other lanes, to your left or right, may have different signals such as turn arrows.
  • Remember to keep the car’s wheels straight when stopped and preparing to make a left turn. If your car is rear ended you don’t want your car pushed into oncoming traffic.
  • If the traffic light is not working properly due to a malfunction, treat this intersection as a 4-way stop sign.
  • Remember, U-turns are often illegal. Even when legal to perform, U-turns pose challenges due to limited visibility, the speed of oncoming traffic, other turning vehicles, and often other drivers are not expecting a vehicle to make a U-turn. So do this carefully and with plenty of space and visibility. The safer alternative would be to perform a legal turn into a side street or parking lot, and then reverse direction from there.

Over 30,000 people are killed and millions injured each year in traffic accidents in this country. Take your time, respect all drivers, passengers, pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and cyclists on the road.  Let’s make the first week of August the safest week of the year so far.

For other driving safety information, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the website Top Five Defensive Driving Tips.


April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month... Hang Up and Drive!

Tonya-Hawker Posted by Tonya Hawker

Today our lives are more demanding than ever before, and smart-phones have made us available 24/7. Our culture’s compulsion for increased productivity has forced Americans to squeeze more time out of a 24 hour day. On the surface, we think driving is easy- a “mindless activity”. So, we deceive ourselves into thinking we can accomplish other tasks while we’re driving, like talking on the phone, texting, or even sending emails. The fact is, this “multi-tasking” is creating an epidemic in our country—an epidemic of death from distracted driving.

Research statistics prove that distracted driving is a real problem. The “cold hard facts” are listed below:

  • Distracted driving contributed to 421,000 motor vehicle related injuries from distracted driving in 2012. (http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/)
  • Driver distractions are a factor in 80% of vehicle crashes. (www.NHTSA.gov)
  • Using a cell phone while driving quadruples your risk of being involved in an accident. (www.distraction.gov, NHTSA)
  • Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. (www.distraction.gov, NHTSA)
  • Using a cell phone while driving, whether its hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reaction as much as having a Blood Alcohol Concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah, NHTSA, www.distraction.gov)

Driving Takes A Lot of Brain Power

Did you know that “Multi-tasking” is a myth? Research has proven that it is impossible for the brain to perform more than one task at a time. The brain switches quickly from one task to another, which leads people to believe they are multi-tasking. But the fact is, reaction times are slower when the brain is attempting to perform more than one function at a time. As a result, the brain cannot give 100% of its focus to either of the tasks at hand. Distractions cause information overload on our brains, resulting in mental errors, slower reaction times, inattention blindness, and poor judgment calls.

Recent studies from the University of Utah showed how distracted driving impacts overall traffic flow and creates dangerous vehicle clusters resulting in serious accidents. The study revealed the following driving behaviors directly related to distracted driving:

  • Distracted drivers are 20% less likely to change lanes, creating traffic congestion.
  • People talking on cell phones tend to look straight ahead, paying less attention to what’s going on in their peripheral vision, creating dangerous lane changing, or swerving into other lanes.
  • Distracted drivers have, on average, a 30% slower reaction time when texting, and 9% slower reaction time when talking on the phone.

How Can Americans Stop the Epidemic?

What can be done to stop the epidemic of distracted driving? For starters, establish a company policy and enforce your company rules. The National Safety Council offers Distracted Driving Kits to get you started. Other sources of assistance may include: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. Other steps that are crucial to protect your organization from loss are listed below:

  • Review defensive driving techniques with company vehicle operators. Be sure to review “all” types of driving distractions.
  • Don’t use “any” electronic devices while driving (no hands-free or hand-held devices).
  • Don’t eat or smoke inside the vehicles.
  • Don’t apply make-up or conduct other grooming activities.
  • Don’t fixate on an object or event outside the vehicle that will take away your attention.
  • Don’t read books, maps, texts, email, etc… while driving. 
  • Do stay focused.
  • Do expect the unexpected.
  • Do keep a good following distance.
  • If you must talk or text, pull safely off the road before beginning any communication. 
  • Do allow sufficient time to reach your destination.

Driving is a skill that requires your full attention. Your actions on the road will impact others. Keep your eyes on the road. Keep your mind on driving. Keep your hands on the wheel.

 


2012 Motor Vehicle Crashes: What Do The Numbers Say?

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

The November 2013 issue of Traffic Safety Facts, published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contains some interesting statistics.  Since transportation incidents account for the highest percentage of workplace deaths these numbers could be helpful to safety specialists, fleet managers, and just about anyone who drives a car.

  Graph 1

As can be seen by the above figure, the total number of fatalities in 2012 rose slightly over the previous year, the first time this has occurred since 2005.  33,561 people lost their lives in motor vehicle traffic crashes.  This represents a 3.3% increase from 2011.  However, when those numbers are broken down further here is what we see:

  • Both the fatality rate and the injury rate increased over 2011; 3.6% and 6.7% respectively.
  • Fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 3.7%
  • Total alcohol-impaired driving fatalities rose 3.3%

This seems to be all bad news; however, these are changes just from 2011 to 2012.  If we look at the bigger picture and compare data from a longer time frame the numbers are certainly more encouraging.  For example, 2012 had fewer fatalities than any other year back to 1963 with the exception of 2011. 

Graph 2The composition of fatalities has also changed significantly over the years.  As you can see here, vehicle occupants represent a much smaller percentage of the fatalities in 2012 than they did in 2003.  This speaks to the improved safety systems and increased seat belt usage in our vehicles today.  Unfortunately, a higher percentage of motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are killed than in 2003.

So, what does all this mean?  Driving a vehicle is still likely the most hazardous activity we all do each day.  Since the numbers went up from 2011 to 2012 we should take this very seriously; someone dies from a vehicle accident in this country every 16 minutes. 

 There are steps we can take to decrease the odds of becoming the next statistic. 

  • Driver training is often forgotten… after all, we all know how to drive, right?  Reviewing the basics of speed, following distance, braking technique, driving in adverse weather, distracted driving, and vehicle maintenance issues can be very helpful for any driver regardless of age or experience.   Remind employees that arriving safely, even a little late, is far better than risking a crash by speeding, tailgating, or driving aggressively.
  • Review your electronic device policy for drivers.  Every effort should be made to ensure people are not distracted by cell phones calls or texting while driving.  Keep in mind it really doesn’t matter if the phone is handheld or hands free; the cognitive distraction of the conversation is the real hazard.
  • Vehicle maintenance is critical for safe operation.  Drivers of company vehicles should be completing daily pre-trip inspections and all organizations should have routine maintenance schedules.  Tire pressures and tread wear are one of the most important factors in vehicle control so keep a close eye on those. 

Check out additional transportation safety resources from the MEMIC Safety Director, the NHTSA, and the National Safety Council


Vehicle Technology and Crash Avoidance

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

The 21st century brings continual technological advancement and the vehicle industry is one area where this is becoming more obvious.  The collision survivability rate is better due to multiple air bags, protective crumple zones, and improved restraint devices.  But today drivers are benefiting from improved safety systems that can actually help prevent collisions, not just protect the occupants should there be a collision. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a summary of the latest innovations regarding collision avoidance.  These systems include Electronic Stability, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Intervention, and Adaptive Cruise Control. 

  • An Electronic Stability System uses differential braking in order to keep the vehicle moving in the intended direction in an extreme maneuver.  This would aid the driver in spin out or under steering/plow out scenarios.  The system can brake one or more wheels, as required, to get the vehicle moving in the direction the driver intended with steering wheel input.
  • The Lane Departure Warning System uses a camera to monitor the painted lane markings on the road ahead.  If the vehicle starts to drift from the lane, with no turn signal activation, it will initiate an aural and/or visual warning to the driver.  It does not control the vehicle, but warns the driver so that he/she can take the appropriate action.
  • The Forward Collision Warning System uses a sensor system to monitor the distance between the vehicle and the vehicle ahead on the road.  It can determine speeds and closure rates and will again warn the driver if a collision is imminent.  Some systems will now auto brake the vehicle as well, but most are simply driver alerts.
  • Blind Spot Intervention Systems monitor adjacent vehicles and will alert the driver when a vehicle has entered their “blind spot” and the driver begins to drift from their lane.  Should the turn signal be activated the system will engage an aural warning, and some will begin differential braking to return the car to the original lane.
  • Adaptive cruise control is a feature designed to maintain a set speed and, when applicable, adjust the set speed to main¬tain a specified distance from a lead vehicle. When following another vehi¬cle, the system will automatically slow down or speed up in responses to changes in the lead vehicle’s speed.

As potentially helpful as these systems are, remember that the driver is ultimately responsible for the vehicle operation.  As a former airline pilot, I can say that advanced technology is a wonderful thing… until pilots become too dependent upon it and complacency sets in.  Perfectly good airplanes are flown into the ground on a regular basis due to over reliance upon technology.  Drivers today can take advantage of these crash avoidance systems and if done responsibly the collision rate will likely decrease.  But never replace vigilance with electronic gadgets.  Check out the National Transportation Safety Board website for further information on advanced safety technology for transportation.


Share The Road With All... Big and Small

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

As we enter the busy summer months and more of us are travelling it is important to be more aware of our surroundings as we drive.  Highways are filled with vehicles, from tractor trailers to bicyclists and everything in between.  Keep these tips in mind:

  • Bicycles are harder to see than full sized vehicles.  If you’re a rider consider wearing high visibility colors and install lights front and rear.  Obey all traffic laws and be predictable.  Always wear a helmet.  When driving a car around a bicyclist give them at least 3’ of space.
  • Motorcycles are also harder to see, so the same recommendations apply.  Wear all your protective gear, especially the helmet.
  • Tractor trailers take a long time to accelerate and a long time to stop.  It takes about the length of a football field to stop a tractor trailer from highway speed.  Trucks will have to make very wide turns, so don’t find yourself caught between the trailer and the curb by trying to go inside a tractor trailer making a right turn.  Always allow extra room around the big rigs.
  • People travelling away from home are often unfamiliar with the area and tend to make quick turns or slow down as they navigate their way around.  Keep at least three seconds of following distance from the car in front of you and stay alert.
  • Fatigue is insidious and can be a serious safety hazard on the road.  Plan your days appropriately, get plenty of rest, and stay well hydrated on these long summer days. 

Check out the following resources for more information regarding safe driving.  Enjoy the summer safely!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration- a great resource to learn more about distracted driving, child safety seats, teen driving, safety ratings and more.

Bicycle safety information available from Bicyclesafe.com.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a page devoted to sharing the road safely.


What's the Hurry?

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt


It seems that these days everyone is in a hurry.  Traffic on the roads is heavy, people are often rushing around, and we all have to be somewhere now.  The problem this creates is the decrease in our “safety cushions”.  Cars are travelling the highways at 65 or 75 mph… or faster, and they are only a few feet behind the car in front of them.  If we speed and tailgate we seem to think we will arrive at our destination sooner.  But is this really true?  What are the risks?

Speeding often does not decrease driving time substantially, but it does increase risk.  For example, travelling at 75mph verses 55mph on a ten mile trip will only save four minutes.  However, when one considers traffic, school zones, toll booths, stop lights, etc… the time saved is likely much less than four minutes.  We burn more gas, become frustrated, increase the risk of rear end collisions and speeding violations, and really don’t save any time.  Wouldn’t it just be better to leave earlier and drive defensively? 

Following distance is critical.  People require time to perceive traffic problems ahead, more time to react to the situation, and more time to actually stop the vehicle.  Standard perception and reaction times range from .5 seconds to .75 seconds for each.  Although that doesn’t sound like a long time, a vehicle travelling at 65mph will travel between 100 and 150 feet during that time. 

Next consider the impact speeding has on the performance of your car or truck.  Specifically, how does a speed increase effect stopping distance?  The answer might surprise you.  A doubling of your speed doesn’t just increase your stopping distance by twofold.  It actually increases it by four times.  Pretty clear that the faster you go, the longer the stopping distance… by a lot.  No wonder we have rear end collisions involving multiple vehicles. 

The right answer is clear.  Slow down, drive defensively, and increase following distances.  Leave yourself enough time and space to stop or steer around any surprises in front of you. 

Transportation is the leading cause of death in the workplace; don’t become a statistic.  Driving is a serious business we should not take for granted.  For training ideas and more information check out the resources from the National Safety Council, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration