This we know: In Saskatchewan, motor vehicle collisions are the second leading cause of workplace deaths overall and the number one cause of acute-related fatalities.
What we don’t know as much about is why these tragedies persist.
To that end, the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) has partnered with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) in a data-sharing agreement that promises to shed more light on the causes of motor vehicle collisions. Specifically, SGI has integrated its motor vehicle crash information with 2008-2018 motor vehicle crash data from the Saskatchewan WCB.
“We’re developing a risk profile from the merged data,” says Kevin Mooney, the WCB’s Interim Vice-President of Prevention and Employer Services. “We’re looking closely at factors such as driver demographics, road and weather conditions, lighting and crash types. We’re also identifying the industries that experience the majority of motor vehicle collisions.”
WorkSafe Saskatchewan, a partnership between the Saskatchewan WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, offers resources, awareness campaigns, education, training, and targeted initiatives to help eliminate workplace injuries and fatalities. Later this year, WorkSafe Saskatchewan will share its findings from the data-sharing agreement with workers and employers in targeted awareness campaigns.
In the meantime, whether you drive to work or for work, it always pays to refresh your driver safety know-how. Here are five tips to help you stay safe behind the wheel:
Distracted driving is the No. 1 contributing factor in collisions overall in the province, according to SGI. Key distractions include texting, using voice-activated technologies, eating, drinking, grooming, pets and chatting with passengers. What’s the most distracting task while driving? The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) cites programming a GPS or navigation system. CAA also says drivers who check their phones while driving are eight times more likely to be in a crash.
Don’t drive under the influence.
Consuming alcohol, drugs or even over-the-counter medications can lead to impaired driving, which is a chief cause of motor vehicle incidents and fatalities on Saskatchewan roadways. Cannabis can impair co-ordination and reaction time, as well as attentiveness and ability to make decisions and judge distances.
Keep a safe following distance.
To avoid rear-ending the vehicle in front of you, give yourself enough reaction and stopping time. And while you can’t prevent a driver from rear-ending you, make it a habit to stop smoothly and gradually. Watch for speed changes in the traffic pattern and stale green lights.
On the highway, stay a safe distance away from trucks. “In a lot of cases, the public doesn’t realize what it takes to stop a commercial vehicle travelling at 100 km/hr,” says Russ Turgeon, membership development and services co-ordinator with the Saskatchewan Trucking Association and a former trucker. Another key concern of truck drivers, he says, are tailgaters who travel so closely behind that they can’t be seen because of the trucker’s blind spot.
Watch your speed.
Speed limit signs indicate the maximum speed you should be driving under ideal conditions. You may need to reduce your speed for conditions such as inclement weather, glare, darkness, potholes and traffic flow. Driving faster than the traffic flow and frequently changing lanes to pass other vehicles increases your collision risk, as does driving too slowly.
Check your tire pressure and treads.
Ensure that your tires are inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Do this when your tires are cold—twice monthly, ideally, and before heading out on long trips. And don’t forget to check your tires for sufficient tread depth. After all, the rubber on your tires will quite literally be hitting the road.