County coalition reminds citizens that safe driving is no accident

The FamilyMeans safe driving campaign, which ran from Nov. 28 through Dec. 16, was timely with the newly slick roads and less favorable travel conditions. In cooperation with the Safe communities Coalition of Washington County, Stillwater-based nonprofit agency FamilyMeans encouraged their employees to participate in activities designed to focus on safe driving habits. Issues covered during the campaign included the dangers of inattentive driving and impaired driving, the importance of seat belt use and the necessity of safe winter driving.

A pre- and post-survey was intended to get individuals thinking about their own driving habits, displays in the lobby shared this valuable information with the public and a fatal vision goggle exercise simulated what happens to one’s eyesight and reaction time even when blood alcohol levels are within the legal limit. Tip sheets about safe driving habits were e-mailed to employees every week and videos were available for viewing in the lunchroom.

Each week of the campaign focused on a different topic. The goal was to heighten awareness about how to stay safe on the road, something most people don’t think about everyday.

“We care about our employees’ health and wellness, which we believe includes all aspects of our lives,” said Arba-Della Beck, president of FamilyMeans. “Taking good care of ourselves and driving safely are just two of the issues we can focus on.”

The most dangerous part of the workday for employees is the time they spend in their vehicles, including travel to and from work. According to Minnesota Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, crashes are the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States, and cost employers millions of dollars in lost time, wages and health care.

Worksite-based safe driving campaigns encourage responsible driving behavior for employees and their families. Whether going to work, traveling to see a client or doing other work-related business in the car, it makes sense to follow some basic guidelines for safe driving:

• Check the address and map/plan your route before you leave your worksite

• Always wear your seat belt

• Pre-set the climate radio and CD player in your car

• Leave plenty of extra time so you do not have to speed

• Postpone conversations on the phone until you arrive at your destination

• When you are hungry or thirsty, pull over and take a break

Anyone interested in promoting safe driving at the work place, contact Patricia Galligher with Washington County Public Health at 430-6655.

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