When each of my kids turned 16, I let them buy a car, if they paid for it (including insurance and maintenance), maintained honor roll grades, participated in extracurricular activities at school, and obeyed home curfews.
I constantly lectured each on the costs of insurance and damage should they become involved in an accident or police incident. I urged them to better plan their routes or share rides to reduce fuel costs. And I urged them to practice preventative maintenance to keep their cars on the road.
In many ways, I approached my family's vehicle safety program in much the same way as Doug Kirp, my first safety manager at Material Service Corp., taught me. I adopted the classic approach that everyone is driven by economics, so I tried to prove to my trio that safety pays.
If I had to do it again, I think I'd change my criteria. Our family's vehicular program quickly became a business enterprise. My kids quickly learned the art of negotiation. They attempted to garner payments for their livery services for friends, family, and neighbors. As long as each could keep up with the payments and observe the rules, everything seemed fine.
While they may have learned something about safety, I left out an important element–safety improvement or behavioral modification.
How are you approaching safety within your organization? Is it time to rethink your approach?
If you want to read a life-changing book about safety, I suggest you buy a copy of Driving Me Crazy: Stories From the Road by Bruce Moeller. I read the book in spring. Since then, I routed my copy to each staff member. And I plan to send it to my kids. But more importantly, I now try to limit cell phone use as I enter my car.
You may recognize Moeller's name. Until June, he had been CEO of DriveCam, a safety provider to our industry. In this role, Moeller has had an opportunity to review thousands of cases involving vehicle safety. This experience makes the book's words so meaningful.
He shares with readers a personal view of the anguish that results when a safety program fails. He strongly believes society is experiencing a human epidemic from vehicular accidents. And Moeller believes the epidemic's cause is driver inattention or poor behavioral improvement.
In September, 25 passengers died when a commuter train collided with a freight train near Los Angeles. While the final report may not be issued until 2009, investigators have focused on the possibility that the train engineer may have been texting messages with his cell phone. Imagine what would happen if your company was involved in an accident, and investigators discovered that the driver was on his personal cell phone when it occurred.
Ours is a safe industry. We have literally thousands of daily success stories. This is one reason why each year we honor our readers who have received awards from their national association.
I hope that despite the challenges of the current economy, our coverage will help you refocus your safety approach toward behavioral improvement. And as always, I urge you to send us any success stories we can share with your fellow industry professionals.
EDITOR IN CHIEF