By Art Liggio, President and CEO, Driving Dynamics
Last year Safety & Risk featured two columns: “Alert the Fleet: The Other Driver Has Been Abusing Prescription Opioids” and “Riding High in My ’58 Ford Cortina,” both intended to raise awareness that we’re sharing the road with more and more drivers operating their vehicles with diminished capacity. And as more states legalize the use of marijuana―most recently added was California with 38 million inhabitants representing 12 percent of our country’s population, the message of vigilance and preparedness is worth repeating.
With access to this recreational drug becoming more easily available ever day, it’s almost certain we’ll see an increase in the number of individuals operating vehicles under the influence, putting themselves and the rest of us in harm’s way. When we’re behind the wheel, on the road with these “other drivers” we all need to maintain a heightened level of situational awareness, and fleet and safety professionals must be increasingly proactive and intensify their communications on this topic.
The facts support the need for concern. According to a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, only 40 percent of Americans believe driving under the influence of marijuana can be a contributing factor to more motor vehicle crashes. That probably means some of your own fleet drivers are in the other 60 percent and remain largely unaware of the increased risk exposure.
Marijuana use has been shown to slow reaction time, impair judgment of time and distance and decrease coordination, all of which leads to difficulties keeping vehicles correctly positioned in their lane. It is an unsettling mindset to think people are not correlating the dangers of driving high with an increase in crashes. This naïveté will certainly lead to more deaths on the road.
To underscore the point here is a recent, tragic example. A Vermont driver with elevated levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) [the chemical compound in the cannabis (marijuana) plant responsible for a euphoric high], in his system has been accused of a wrong-way crash that killed five teens. Sadly, because of what occurred this past Thanksgiving week-end, the families of each of these teens will never see their loved one again. It’s high time we weed out the risks of drugged driving by changing attitudes and the perception of danger to avoid experiencing this type of loss first hand within our own circle of associates, friends and families.
You can make a difference by conducting ongoing intensive safety campaigns that impress your drivers to remain vigilant. Remind them and remind them again, not to be complacent and not to depend on someone or something else to keep them safe. While we can’t control the “other driver” and their actions, each person in your fleet can be empowered to stay alert to warning signs and be ready to steer clear of anyone that may be place them in harm’s way. To help you get the word out, provided here is a PDF of Driving Dynamics’ The Other Driver—10 Warning Signs. Please share this with your drivers along with a call to: maintain constant situational awareness, be alert to the warning signs of a nearby driver who may put them at risk, and take control of the situation by responding proactively. Get this message out on a regular basis. It’s worth repeating.
Safety & Risk is presented by Driving Dynamics an accomplished provider of impactful driver safety training and risk management services. Continually building and delivering programs based on sound research, proven learning methodologies and expert instruction, we are dedicated to improving drivers’ abilities to stay safe by leveraging risk management tools, principle-based learning and applied techniques. The One Second Advantage™ safety training principle developed by Driving Dynamics is rooted in research that shows 90 percent of all traffic crashes can be avoided when the driver has just one more second to react and knows what to do with that additional second. Driving Dynamics encourages all drivers to Steer Toward Safety™
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