Category: Driving Safety

Work Zone

National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones. An event that started with a local campaign in Bristol, Virginia to raise awareness for work zone safety has grown into an annual national event for 24 years. This year it is hosted by the Maryland Department of Transportation, April 15-19.

In 1999 VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation), the Federal Highway Administration, and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials began working in collaboration to launch the first NWZAW in 2000. Together they outlined goals for the campaign.

National Work Zone Awareness Week Goals:

  • Initiate efforts to raise awareness of the need for more caution when driving through work zones to decrease fatalities and injuries;
  • Establish and promote a uniform set of safety tips;
  • The value of training and importance of best practices in regard to work zone safety would be promoted among individuals in the private sector, industry, and roadway workers;
  • Reach out to both roadway workers and contractors to communicate possible effects of motorists’ behavior in response to traffic delays, and advise on what steps might possibly be taken to lessen negative behavior; and
  • Outreach efforts would be made to work with entities involved with work zone safety and to form partnerships.

The initial national kickoff event was held in Springfield, Virginia. Every other year, the kickoff event is hosted in the Washington, D.C. area and in the alternate years it travels to cities around the country. In 2004, NWZAW’s fifth year, the executive committee decided to incorporate a theme with the event to better promote work zone safety. The first theme was, “The Worker’s Office Is the Roadway.” This year the theme is, “Work Zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.”

In 2016 National Go Orange Day was introduced as a new element of NWZAW. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to wear orange to show support for work zone safety. Posting to social media using #Orange4Safety and # NWZAW is another way to to spread the message.

Thankfully, National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) has been successful in spreading awareness for work zone safety across the country. It is easy to get involved and help bring awareness to this responsibility we all share. It is everyone’s duty to be alert, obey the signs, and keep workers and other drivers safe in work zones.

Nationwide events include:

  • Work Zone Safety Training Day – April 15
  • National kickoff event – April 16
  • Go Orange Day – April 17
  • Social media storm – April 18
  • Moment of Silence – April 19. The moment of silence was started in 2022 to remember the men and women whose lives were lost in a work zone incident.

Safe Driving

Whether you have one employee on the road or one thousand, promoting a culture of driving safety should always be a top priority for your organization.

The number of trucks involved in fatal crashes has increased 5% since 2016, and a total of 107,000 large truck crashes resulted in an injury in 2020. And while this number still accounts for a low percentage of total vehicular crashes, it’s essential that you’re doing everything you can to ensure your drivers are set up for safety.

Effective safe driver training helps protect your employees and other drivers on the road. This means fewer accidents, as well as reduced overall spending on things like vehicle repairs, insurance premiums, and workers’ compensation premiums. Simply put, investing in driving safety is good business — and one of the best things that you can do for your organization’s fleet.

So, where do you start? We’re sharing some of our top tips for training employees on driving safety, including NSC products that can help you make safe driving a central part of your company culture.

The importance of training employees on safe driving

Educating on and promoting driving safety at your workplace is a must if you have employees operating vehicles on your behalf. We’ve already touched on a few of the reasons why, but here’s a more complete look at the many potential benefits of safe driver training:

  • Decreased rates of collisions and traffic violations
  • Reduced spending on vehicle repairs and replacements
  • Reduced spending on insurance premiums, workers’ compensation claims, and legal costs
  • Reduced liability exposure
  • Enhanced protection of organizational interests and brand identity

It doesn’t end there. Prioritizing safe driving practices helps you attract and retain the type of employees that you want representing your organization on the road. And the more predictable you make your safety expectations, the less you’ll have to worry about mistakes, miscommunication, and missed opportunities for safer driving.

Building blocks of a safe driving culture

It’s not enough to just cover the basics of highway safety and send your drivers on their way. To be truly impactful, your organization must provide employees with useful, evidence-backed safety training and maintain this training year-round. This requires a purposeful investment of time and resources, which can pay you back tenfold by resulting in fewer driving incidents.

As you look for ways to build or improve on your current safety culture, make sure that you’re incorporating these important building blocks into your strategy.

Tailored training programs

Provide all of your drivers with a comprehensive training program that is industry-specific and based on up-to-date OSHA compliance regulations. Your employees wouldn’t have gotten the job if they didn’t know the basics of safe driving, so the purpose of your training program is to go deeper into what they need to know in regards to the vehicle(s) they’ll be responsible for and the real-life challenges that they might face on the road.

Defensive driving protocols

Safe driving starts with defensive driving. These practices have been instrumental in reducing accident rates and saving the lives of drivers, and we strongly encourage all organizations to utilize NSC defensive driving course materials when designing their training programs.

Qualified trainers

Who you choose to lead your program can make all the difference. Employees tend to learn the most when they’re engaged with the material, and when they are given ample opportunities for interaction. A great instructor, then, is someone who can keep employees interested and open up the floor to participation. Of course, they should also be someone who has a strong grasp on the materials themselves, with the ability to supplement the material as needed whilst also conveying core safety messages with competence.

Appropriate materials

You’re not on your own when it comes to teaching employees about driving safety. We highly recommend the use of NSC Driving Safety Training Booklets and/or the NSC Driving Safety Training Course Video Kit to ensure that your program is based on the most relevant OSHA regulations and requirements. Instructors will still be able to adapt material to include relevant industry use cases, but you’ll know that your bases are covered in terms of the most effective ways to prevent driving accidents and injuries.

Regular reminders

Check-in with your drivers regularly to see if there are any questions or issues about safe driving expectations. This is particularly important if you are adding new types of vehicles to your fleet or making other changes that may impact how your employees drive. You can also hang posters at your workplace that act as casual reminders, such as the NSC Texting & Driving Safety Poster.

Setting your employees up for safety

Your organization’s safe driving program should be specific to the needs of your workforce. It should also include all of OSHA’s basic safe driving practices for employees, which cover things like how to stay focused and how to avoid aggressive driving.

Some of the general guidelines—such as always wear a seatbelt, never drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and avoid distractions like texting or talking on the phone—are probably already part of your driving instructions. But some guidelines do require company-specific policies, and will need to be discussed internally prior to training so that you can get everyone on the same page.

  • Set a realistic goal for the maximum amount of miles your drivers can safely cover in a day. You should never sacrifice safety in favor of faster logistics, nor should you encourage your drivers to operate a vehicle without being sufficiently well-rested. 
  • Also necessary is to plan out optimal routes and driving times in advance, providing your drivers with pre-approved instructions for the task ahead.
  • Finally, have policies in place for what to do in an emergency situation. This includes what your drivers should do if inclement weather hits and the exact steps they should take if a vehicular incident happens. Being clear about these policies up front takes guesswork out of the equation and eliminates the risk that drivers will unknowingly put themselves or others in additional danger.

Work with NSC to organize effective safe driving training

We’ve made it our mission to help organizations of all scopes and sizes improve their safe driving practices and build a culture of safety for their employees. This includes educating employees and professional drivers at Fortune 100 companies, small business, non-profits, and community service agencies. And we would be happy to work with you, too.

Explore our website to learn about our Safety Training courses, including defensive driving courses. Or contact us directly to discuss options for your organization. We also recommend the use of NSC products, including training materials and course supplements.

Together, we can make safer roads a reality. Optimize your safe driving training program today, and don’t risk another minute of your employees’ safety behind the wheel.