Behind the Wheel at Work

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Behind the Wheel at Work is a quarterly eNewsletter bringing you the latest news from the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety.

Volume 2 Number 4 December 2017

Winter Driving

Seasonal safety. As the seasons change and holidays approach, drivers may face additional risks while behind the wheel. Employers and workers can read this month’s newsletter to learn how to stay safe on the road throughout the winter months. Access previous issues of our newsletter.

NEW Crash Facts webpage

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From 2003-2015 there were over 23,000 work-related motor vehicle deaths in the United States.

Looking for more ready-to-use motor vehicle crash facts? Visit our Crash Facts webpage to get Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data highlights, check your safety IQ, and download our award-winning infographic.

Safety tip for employers!
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If you must drive in bad weather: travel during daylight and with a full tank of gas, stay on main roads, and keep others informed of your schedule.

Driving during the holidays, on and off the job

Traffic Light Trails on Decorated Street

Along with celebration, the holidays bring increased vehicle traffic. Workers who drive as part of their job may share the roads with fatigued or impaired travelers, and in dangerous weather conditions. Many workers are themselves holiday travelers, and some may be driving a company vehicle approved for personal use.

Every winter NIOSH shares ways that employers can keep their workers safe while working in cold weather conditions. Use the following tips for on- and off-the-job driving, and learn more about working in cold in this month’s newsletter.

  • Give workers information about: road construction/closures, bad road conditions, and other driving dangers.
  • Provide workers with a driver emergency kit checklist that includes: ice scraper, blanket, flashlight, batteries, flares, jumper cables, first aid kit, bottled water, and nonperishable snacks.
  • Set policies that allow drivers to consult with their supervisors to adjust driving hours if they have trouble seeing at night, and to stop driving if they are too tired or the weather is bad.
  • Set policies that prohibit operating a vehicle under the influence of substances that could affect the ability to drive safely.
  • Give workers general information about the possible effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications on their driving. Your company’s health and wellness program may be able to help you locate and distribute this information.
  • Remind workers:
    • Buckle up: every trip, every person. It only takes a second.
    • Do not drive if you are fatigued. Stop and take breaks as needed.
    • Keep alert and aware of your surroundings. Other drivers may be impaired, fatigued, or rushing to reach their destinations.
    • Tell your supervisor when you expect to arrive at a destination, and contact your supervisor to confirm your arrival.

The bottom line: Don’t let safety take a holiday.

Perspectives: Driving in bad weather

Fresh snow sedan tire track

There are two skills [law enforcement officers] need to possess while driving in adverse weather conditions – discipline and awareness. With discipline, you need to know what your vehicle can do and what your personal capabilities are. With awareness, you need to be aware of your surroundings, the conditions, and other people’s actions.

Deputy Chief George Nichols
Prince George’s County Police Department, Maryland

Our Road Journey Management process is critical when addressing weather conditions. In this process, the business need for each trip is validated by the driver and manager. Next, an assessment of the driving conditions evaluates the level of risk related to the trip based on both standard and region-specific questions. Trips that are considered to be either medium or high risk are escalated to management approval prior to departure. Included in the process are steps to manage change during an active trip, such as STOP WORK/STOP DRIVING authorization if weather conditions become unmanageable.

Charles Gardiner
HSE Manager, Transportation Safety – Baker Hughes, a GE company

Employers can do a number of things to manage road risk for employees driving in winter weather. Send out brief safety messages that remind them to maintain a safe speed, watch for icy patches and be sure tires are properly inflated. Some employers equip fleet vehicles with road safety kits in case of emergencies.

Joe McKillips
Executive Director, Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

NEW Fact Sheet for EMS Employers
NIOSH document 2017-194: Emergency Medical Services Workers: How Employers Can Prevent Injuries and Exposures

More than 22,000 EMS workers visited emergency departments each year for work-related injuries, according to a four-year study. This new NIOSH fact sheet, co-branded with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, provides EMS employers with recommendations for preventing injuries and exposures among workers.

Follow NIOSH for tips on #WorkingInCold
Snowy dangerous car overtaking on highway

Every winter NIOSH recognizes ways that employers can keep their employees safe while working in cold weather conditions. Follow @NIOSH and @NIOSH_MVSafety on Twitter to receive useful safety tips, and use the #WorkingInCold hashtag to join the conversation for the next few months.

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Questions? Comments? Contact Rebecca Olsavsky (

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Page last reviewed: December 7, 2017