4 Big Company Driving Policies That Are Important for Your Safety
Many Fortune 500 companies have thousands of vehicles on the road and are ahead of the game when it comes to driver safety. Most do everything in their power to prevent accidents; they don’t want to pay for any damages to their equipment, cars or employees. According to the United States Department of Labor, “The average crash cost to an employer is $16,500. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved.” The point is, companies are not only looking out for the safety of their employees, they are also going to take every precaution possible to avoid costs associated with accidents. State or federal laws can take much longer to implement than company policies, so current laws aren’t necessarily on the cutting edge of safety. Companies have spent millions of dollars on safety research and implementation. Some companies are so strict about their driving safety policies that you will lose your job for not following them. Below are a few big company policies that may be worth following to keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible.
1. Always Back into Parking Spots: Several companies require employees to back into parking spots. Of all reported accidents, 20% of them occur in parking lots. While these accidents are probably not deadly, they cost time and money. It’s safer to pull head first out of a parking spot with full visibility than to back out into unknown traffic with limited visibility. When you are backing into a parking barrier, (such as a wall, concrete block or another row of cars) you can safely back into the parking spot without the chance of being hit. When possible, find two open parking spaces in a row. Enter one space and drive through to the next row so that the front end of your car is facing out. This is preferable because you have greater visibility in drive moving forward than in reverse. Another benefit of backing into a parking spot: If you have a problem with your car and it won’t start, having the front end of your vehicle facing forward will make it much easier for someone to help you. If a car needs a jumpstart from another vehicle or is in need of a tow truck, you will be able to receive help much faster.
2. Prevent Sudden Movements by Avoiding Distractions: Distractions are the number one cause of car accidents in the United States. While some states have outlawed things like texting while driving, many large companies have already banned all cell phone use. They have done a lot of research on this subject and have seen many accidents caused by sudden movements from being distracted. Distractions like talking or texting on your phone, eating, or reaching for items, can cause your car to slowly drift to one side. The natural instinct is to jerk the vehicle back to its original location. The process of jerking the car back to its original position, especially in bad weather, causes accidents. For example, if you were to drift slowly to the right and your wheel went off the road, jerking it back to the left might cause your wheel to get caught. When the wheel comes free, your car is more likely to go flying across the centerline or in some cases even flip. If your wheel moves off the pavement, take your foot off of the gas pedal and ease your car back on to the road. We all know it’s hard not to answer your phone, pick up something you dropped, or reach in the backseat to tend to the kids. Before you do, remember that up to 30% of accidents are caused by these types of distractions. Try to keep focused on the road until you can pull over (no matter how much little Johnny whines for the toy he dropped!)
Personal Story: Recently an employee of a Fortune 100 company was using his iPhone as a GPS and in the process of glancing down to see his next location, the truck drifted, he jerked it back and flipped his truck. The company he works for has a strict no phone while driving policy. Luckily he didn’t injure anyone or himself, but he could very well lose his job. Mounting your GPS on your windshield (while ironically illegal in many states, although not enforced) is probably the safest thing you can do besides memorize your route. It’s much safer to keep your eyes on the road than to glance down at a phone or anything else.
3. Buck up (pun intended) and hit the deer: Do not swerve to avoid Bambi, his family members, or any other animal that makes its way in front of your car. We know this goes against every instinct in your body, but it could save your life. The process of swerving to avoid an animal could cause you to hit another car, person, or object, causing even more injuries. Hitting a 100 – 200 pound deer will hopefully cause a lot less damage to you and your vehicle then hitting an un-budging 1500 pound tree or an unsuspecting family of four. Even if you are in an area where hitting another object is unlikely, swerving could cause you to go off the road, lose control, and increase your chances of flipping your car. The chances of rolling over increases if you have a vehicle with a high center of gravity, like a mini-van or SUV. While we do have compassion for the poor animals that are at the receiving end of your car, your safety is much more important.
NOTE: If you see a deer, be on alert. Deer generally travel in groups.
4. Following distance: If you rear-end someone, you are most likely going to be the person getting the ticket. No company wants to pay for a citation, let alone the damage an accident causes you, your vehicle, another person, or their vehicle. Tailgating is one of the main causes of rear-end accidents and this is why many companies have rules about how many seconds you should always stay behind another vehicle. For example, employees of one company have a three second following distance which increases to six seconds with inclement weather and higher speeds. To follow the second’s rule, when the vehicle in front of you passes a telephone pole or another object, count one-one-thousand, two-one- thousand, three-one-thousand etc., until you get to the same fixed object as the car ahead of you. That¬ number should be three, six or whatever conditions dictate. Some companies want you to make sure you leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you even if you are stopped at a stop light or stop sign. They want their employees to be able to see the ground or the back wheels of the car in front of them. This ensures that you have enough room to change lanes even if the car in front of you doesn’t move. It also lessens the chance of rear-ending the car in front of you if someone hits your car.