Should we be taking a holistic approach to driving safety?

22 May 2019

We are very well educated about the dangers of drink driving, driving when tired, speeding and using mobile phones while behind the wheel.  Whether this advice and guidance is taken on board is arguably another matter, however, are there other dangers that taking a more holistic approach to driving safety could help minimise?

All sounding too left field to be relevant for corporate health and safety?…bare with me!

Some research has recently been brought to my attention that uncovers that “Upset drivers are 5 times more dangerous than drivers talking on a cell phone...”

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted the research which looked at 3.500 drivers aged between 16 and 98 via an array of cameras, microphones and sensors to determine their emotional state.  This, therefore, takes out the personal opinion and veers attention back to data, as all good research projects should of course!

In total, these cars travelled 35 million miles and were involved in 905 serious crashes.

Research findings of emotions and drivingThe findings showed that drivers classed as having heightened levels of emotion – for example clearly angry, sad or agitated, were around 5 times more likely to crash as those who were chatting on their mobile phone.

Those who were considered to be overwhelmed by their emotions were 9.8 times more likely to have an accident as those who were in control of their emotions.

More information about the study and the findings can be found here »

How many times do you think your employees have left meetings or left the office to drive somewhere when their emotions have not exactly been in check?  End of year reviews not going the way they want to, tension in the office, sales falling through or other office politics causing discord.  What are the consequences of those people getting behind the wheel of a deadly machine, and what are the moral implications and responsibilities for the employer in that case?

Why should we consider a holistic approach to driving safety?Taking a holistic approach to driving safety may make many people roll their eyes and think we are jumping on the mindful bandwagon but if this research is accurate, and I can see no reason why it shouldn’t be trusted, then encouraging our employees to better manage their emotions and stress levels may well have a positive impact on more than just their mental wellbeing.

We have covered a lot of driving-related topics and approaches in this blog including looking a the impact of the New Driving Test and questioning whether your vision is actually safe to drive, but this research puts a whole new focus on the topic.

Admittedly there is a growing trend to pull people to claim “mental wellbeing” as being the centre of all woes in the workplace but why should that be a bad thing when research shows just how far our mental state of mind can actually affect other areas of our health and safety?  Maybe if we did spend more time encouraging mindfulness or other ways to manage stress levels then we can create a safer place to be…or at least what harm could it do to try.

What actions should be taken?A good place to start is to talk to your HR contact to see what wellbeing initiatives there are in place already and to see if you can add any value from a health and safety point of view.   Sometimes employees, in my experience, may have a sceptical view of HR related wellbeing initiatives….however, if you can throw some weight behind them talking about the health and safety benefits then it may just trigger a different point of view.

How you communicate to your employees about their health and safety responsibilities could also be an area for change.  How is training currently delivered to your employees?  Is it:

1 – “Look you have to do this to cover the company in case anything goes wrong so just do it please.”

or is it:

2 – “We appreciate the hard work you do and just want to ensure you remain safe and healthy for the sake of your family and life outside of these 4 walls.”

For the organisation, the end result is the same but from an employee point of view who would, you rather work for?

It is being able to provide this 360 approach to training that is the reason behind Safety Media including so many varied titles in our standard e-learning library.  Despite what the name may suggest we are more than just safety, the compliance and soft skills courses are becoming an increasingly crucial learning tool for our clients.

Communication, Change Management, Conflict Management, Stress Management, Bullying and Harassment, Time Management – these courses are all designed to help encourage your employees to develop personally but in doing so help the overall aims of the organisation.

Why stop at just a holistic approach to driving safety?Imagine a workplace where everyone was less stressed, less wound up, less anxious…the far-reaching benefits could be massive.  Even the knock-on effects of the happy staff being less likely to look for alternative employment means that you automatically benefit from knowledge and experience gained within your 4 walls.  If you want to give it a go and try some of our softer skilled courses for yourself then drop us a line and request a demo and we will be happy to talk through your individual needs and help you achieve your goals.

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