Be Strong, Be Loud, and Be Safe

March 7, 2022

Safety is personal.

When I share those words and think about that simple message, I also think back to an event that inspired me to be here today. I chose to be an educator because I wanted to help shape the lives of people around me. I chose safety, at least in part, because of a traumatic incident that knocked on our door one day, uninvited.

My daughter was 8 years old when she witnessed a distracted driver – a driver who reported seeing the light turn red but was unable to stop – slam into another vehicle. Unfortunately, a mother of three children was killed in a horrific crash. Her kids, passengers at the time, survived.

My daughter saw others scrambling to help on the scene. She watched the mom slide out of the front seat when rescuers opened the door. From a parent’s point of view, I will never understand the depth of emotion attached to the images etched in her mind, but I witnessed her response to her classmate’s tragedy when she learned the identity of the mother. The days, weeks and months that followed were hard for all of us to process. But a strong school community moved in the direction of help, support and comfort for the family as best as it could.

Now, all these years later, I work with a talented team that strives to help employers prioritize transportation safety through continuous education and training. I’ve learned safety is real. Safety affects everyone’s life and there are no do-overs. My colleagues have learned valuable lessons, too:

I encourage you to share stories with your coworkers, to explain the “why” behind your work in safety.  You’re the educator in the room. You’ve learned when you go beyond the risks or the steps it takes to avoid unsafe behaviors, you are rewarded with results.

People are healthy and happy. They are more productive at work. They are able to return home unharmed to be with those they love. Keeping coworkers safe means you’re steering them away from drug misuse, distracted driving, drowsy driving, drunk driving and speeding. These are issues that confront all employers whether they bubble up on or off the job. Now more than ever you’re encouraging them to watch out for others using the roads, including pedestrians, bicyclists and scooter riders.

You’re making a difference. Think of your job as elevating the mind and bringing new energy to the character of all those around you. Yes, everyone plays a role in safety. Yes, it’s personal.

– Cindy Leonard is a program manager with the National Safety Council

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