Lack of Seat Belt Use Costs U.S. Employers $5 Billion; Drives Up Medical Bills
Employer Program Boosted Seat Belt Use by 30 percent in Pilot Location
Vienna, Va.—U.S. employers are collectively spending an extra $5 billion per year on traffic crashes involving employees who did not wear a seat belt while driving or riding as a passenger, whether they were on the job or off. This is according to a report released by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). The same report finds that medical costs paid by employers per employee injured in a crash were nearly double in on-the-job crashes where the employee was not wearing a seat belt and increased by a third for off-the-job crashes.
Nationwide, the seat belt usage rate is 88.5 percent. However, in states with no seat belt law or a secondary law (meaning you can’t be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt unless another infraction is also committed), the average usage rate falls to 78.6%.
“It’s likely most think getting people to buckle up is a problem that has been solved. But this report makes it clear that seat belts still go unbuckled, resulting in significant costs to employers,” said Jack Hanley, NETS’ Executive Director. “In addition to implementing seat belt policies for occupational drivers, employers should take time to encourage all employees to buckle up whether they are on the job or off. The two seconds it takes to buckle a seat belt reduces the chance of injury or death in the event of a crash by almost half. There really is no better return on investment.”
To help employers improve seat belt usage among employees and, in turn, reduce the human and financial toll of traffic crashes on the workplace, NETS has developed a free online toolkit called 2seconds2click.
The toolkit includes a communication plan for a 6-week worksite seat belt usage campaign and is accompanied by a full suite of employee-engagement materials. These include a kick-off presentation with speaker notes, a series of posters, handouts and activities, as well as instructions and materials to assist in conducting direct observation surveys at the start and completion of the campaign to measure results.
The 2seconds2click toolkit was developed in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and requires minimal resources—in terms of time or dollars—to implement. The toolkit materials were piloted by Coca-Cola Refreshments at its Bismarck ND site, where observed seat belt usage increased from a baseline 54 percent to 84 percent over a 6-week period. Coca-Cola Refreshments is a unit of The Coca-Cola Company, a NETS board member.
“We are grateful to Coca-Cola Refreshments for partnering with us on this initiative and are very encouraged by the results observed at its site in North Dakota. This is especially so because the demographics of its workforce—primarily young adult males—can be a tough audience to influence when it comes to seat belt use. This toolkit will result in more employees wearing seat belts, thus extending employee safety beyond the doors of the workplace,” adds Hanley. The 2seconds2click workplace seat belt usage improvement campaign may be accessed at no charge via www.2seconds2click.org.
NETS is a 501(c) 3 employer-led organization, a partnership between the U.S. federal government and the private sector. NETS’ mission is to reduce road-related collisions, injuries, deaths and costs. Established in 1989, NETS’ programs and services are dedicated to improving the safety of employees, their families, and members of the communities where they live and work by preventing traffic crashes that occur on-and-off the job. NETS is committed to outreach—providing road safety materials electronically and free of charge. Board member companies include Abbott, AmeriFleet Transportation, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, The Coca-Cola Company, Hess Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Monsanto Company, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Group, Shell International Petroleum Company B.V. and UPS. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) serve as federal liaisons to the board of directors. For more information on NETS, visit www.trafficsafety.org.