Israeli research shows connection between work environment, traffic accidents

A new study sheds light on the great influence a stressful work environment can have on increasing traffic accidents.

Tel Aviv traffic. (photo credit: INIMAGE)
Tel Aviv traffic.
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
With so many road accidents involving truck drivers and others who sit behind the wheel for a living, it has now been found that professional drivers who are involved in conflicts with others at work are more likely to drive recklessly.
“Drivers who develop negative relationships may suffer from various covert and overt reactions, communications obstacles, limited access to information and a lack of social influence promoting safety,” concluded doctoral student Renana Arizon-Peretz and Prof. Gil Luria of the University of Haifa’s human services department. Accordingly, they will find it harder to model safe behaviors,” the researchers explained.
Traffic accidents account for 14% of all injuries in Israel, and 90% to 95% of them are caused by human error. Numerous studies have been carried out to examine reckless behavior by drivers, focusing on demographic characteristics such as sex, age, personality and psychological condition. In the current study, published in Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal, the researchers sought for the first time to examine whether relations in the workplace influence driving.
The study included 83 professional drivers and 30 assistant drivers who belonged to four industrial organizations in Israel. The drivers’ average age was 39, with average seniority of 6.5 years at work and seven years as drivers. Unsafe driving behaviors were measured using a special technological system called IVDR, which provides an objective measurement of the driver’s behavior by means of a computer and sensors installed in the vehicle.
The results of the study show that the more central the drivers’ position within the network of negative team relationships – meaning the more they tend to engage in negative interactions with their peers – the greater their tendency to drive unsafely, in comparison with drivers located at the margins of these networks.
Conversely, the more central the drivers’ position within the network of work friendships (the more friendships they have with their peers), the lower the tendency to drive unsafely.
“In reality, individuals sometimes develop conflicted relationships with some work colleagues and close friendships with others,” the researchers added. “In these instances, we found that the positive relationships compensate for the negative ones, thereby moderating the link to unsafe behavior.”
The researchers explain that much of the information about safety hazards is exchanged among peers during informal conversations over a coffee in the kitchenette, during a telephone conversation or simply during chats in the corridor.
“When you are close to someone, you’ll tell them about problems you encountered or heard about from other colleagues. In that way, you help them avoid or cope with the risks. Conversely, if you are in a conflict with someone, you might even deliberately choose not to share vital information with them, in order to make it harder for them to cope with a potential danger.”
“Managements of organizations should attach importance to drivers’ social abilities during staff recruitment. It is also important to diagnose the informal relationships in the team, address problematic relationships and develop friendship networks between teams. Such actions can help reduce the rate of traffic accidents,” the researchers concluded.
THE DARK SIDE OF TATTOOS As tattoos and body piercings are an increasingly popular form of “self-expression around the world, including Israel, it is important for young people to carefully consider the consequences and potential risks associated with body modifications. The first clinical report on the topic published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in the journal Pediatrics supplies an overview of the types and methods used to perform body modifications and details possible medical complications.
Lead author Dr. Cora Breuner noted, “Tattooing is much more accepted today than it was 15 or 20 years ago. In many states, teens have to be at least 18 to get a tattoo, but the regulations vary from place to place.
When counseling teens, I tell them to think hard about why they want a tattoo and where on their body they want it.”
In a survey, 76% of 2,700 Americans with visible tattoos or piercings said they believed that the tattoo or piercing had hurt their chances of getting a job.
The AAP recommended making sure that the salon is sterile, clean and reputable and uses infection control just like at the doctor’s office. Those considering a tattoo should make sure that their immunizations are up to date and that they are not taking any medication that compromises their immunity.
The organization offers guidance for pediatricians on how to distinguish typical body modification from more dramatic or intense efforts to harm oneself, called non-suicidal self-injury syndrome. The syndrome, which includes cutting, scratching or burning oneself, is a more impulsive or compulsive action that is associated with mental health disorders.
“In most cases, teens just enjoy the look of the tattoo or piercing, but we do advise them to talk any decision over with their parents or another adult first,” said Dr. David Levine, co-author of the report.
“They may not realize how expensive laser removal of a tattoo is ($49 to $300 per square inch of treatment area in the US) or how a piercing on your tongue might result in a chipped tooth.”