As a result of renewed education and training, vehicle backing incidents in the Southwest District are down 60 percent so far in 2014, compared to the same time in 2013.
According to District Safety and Health Manager, Gary McLarry, there have been six vehicle backing incidents so far this year compared to 15 between January and July of last year.
For all of 2013, there were 22 incidents.
“We’re thankful,” McLarry said. “In the last three years, with all of our backing incidents, we have only had one impact to a person.”
|Magnetic flag used as part of a pilot program to encourage circle checks of MoDOT vehicles before backing. (Photo/Gary McLarry)
The district is trying to be creative in getting its safety message across. Recently, McLarry attached balloons to a number of cars used by the District Management Team in the parking lot at the District Office in Springfield. On each balloon was a check mark inside a circle, reminding the driver to do a circle check around the car.
“The circle check balloons were something I did to get the attention of the office staff,” McLarry said. “We must lead by example.”
MoDOT policies require a spotter to be used, when available, when backing equipment and vehicles. The district also is conducting a pilot program, placing magnetic flags on vehicles which encourages circle checks. The hope is that the program will lead to fewer vehicle backing accidents.
Last April, the district established a “No Backing Day” when all employees were encouraged to plan out job tasks and stage equipment and vehicles to avoid backing where possible.
According to the National Safety Council, one out of four vehicle incidents are the result of poor backing techniques, accounting for 500 deaths and 15,000 injuries every year.