To celebrate Memorial Day, many of your coworkers will spend part of the long weekend at an outdoor festival, backyard pool party or family picnic. And why not? Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial start to summer.
In the safety world, it’s also known as the start of one of the deadliest drug- and alcohol-impaired crash periods on U.S. roads. In fact, crash fatality rates spike over the summer holidays, according to the National Safety Council.
While the statistics are grim, you can take a more positive approach. Get off to a hot safety start this summer by sharing a simple reminder:
- Have fun, be safe: If you’re going out, plan ahead for a safe ride home. That includes selecting a sober driver or arranging to use a ride-share service.
Just because alcohol to-go has become an increasingly more popular option in some circles, there is no reason to toss one back before hitting the road. Impairment begins with the first drink. Alcohol and other drugs can diminish an individual’s ability to think straight, see clearly and react quickly, even at low blood-alcohol concentration levels. All are necessary for safety at work and safety behind the wheel.
Impairment, speeding and distraction were contributing factors in 4,480 fatalities on Texas roads last year, making it the second-deadliest year since the Texas Department of Transportation started tracking fatalities in 1940. The only year with a higher death toll was 1981, with 4,701 traffic fatalities.
Again, these counts can be chilling, particularly when you assign names and faces to each one. They were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. They were your friends and neighbors. Nobody wants to lose a loved one.
Remember, you don’t have to serve alcohol at company parties or in-home events to have fun. You can serve mocktails instead. Get recipes to make your own:
Since the start of summer is also the start of a busy travel season, you might also want to share these road safety reminders to send your friends on their way. Post on a bulletin board or on your intranet site:
- Vehicle maintenance: Check wiper blades, fluid levels, lights and air conditioning.
- Safer cars equal safer roads: Find out if your vehicle has an open recall. It’s free to check and free to repair at the dealer.
- Seat belts: Did you know seat belt use drops by about 15 percentage points for occupants riding in the back seat? Buckle up – every trip, every time, even when riding in the back seat of a ride-share vehicle on a short trip from the airport.
- Fatigue: Plan for regular stops on long trips. Change drivers. Stretch your legs to stay fresh. Return calls or texts while taking a break.
- Co-pilot’s rights: Prevent distraction for the driver. Answer calls, send texts, set the GPS and choose the radio station or music playlist. Download, print and display this infographic.
Summer is the best season because there are so many things to do. Whether you’re going camping or spending the day at the beach, be cool with safety. Be responsible for your actions, too.
– Mike Ezzell is a program manager with the National Safety Council