The physical act of driving is a complex task, however, we tend to pass it off as a ritual process to get from point A to point B.

Recent studies have given cause for concern. Although the driving fatality rates have reduced by over 33% since 1998, it is a fact that 1 in every 5 vehicles on the road are being driven by someone who is driving on business. It is a sad fact that 1 in every 8 accidents involves someone driving on business and an even sadder fact that a business driver, travelling 25,000 miles annually, has a 1 in 8000 chance of not living to collect their pension – the same rates of survival as that of a coal-face worker. (Department for Transport 2006)

With these figures in mind there is a huge measure of insecurity within the sectors of industry and commerce. If you were an employer, and a member of your key staff was involved in an accident causing severe injury, how would that affect your business? Would subordinates be able to take up the role sufficiently without losing or de-stabilising, your business? Would new staff have to be employed, trained, or would other staff have to be re-trained? Would contracts be lost? Would deadlines be met? Would goods in transit have to be remanufactured, re-packaged and re-transported? Could there possibly be adverse publicity that would affect the goodwill of your business? Who will pay for the clean-up operation, emergency services, medical insurances, sick pay, etc?

The true average cost of an incident described above amounts to between £680,000 and £1.2m! This is in addition to any prosecutions under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 or any other Health and Safety/Duty of Care legislation.

Never before has there been a time when more proactive measures towards safety in the workplace have been needed. A road vehicle is a work place and is the responsibility of the organisation that uses it. It is no longer possible for an employer to assume that because their employee holds a driving licence, that the driving skills of that individual are suited to the company’s tasks. A DIAmond 1 in 5 are Driving for Work – Advanced Motorists survey of 2007 revealed that out of a population of 30 million driving licence holders in the UK, less than 60,000 have any form of an advanced driving qualification – representing 0.2% of drivers – the equivalent of 1 in every 50,000 drivers. (Graham Carpenter, DIA, Exeter Road Safety Conference 2007).

From the above, we are now starting to see the benefits that may be enjoyed by an organisation if the employer took on the responsibility of managing the work place. This includes employees who are on the road, since the vehicle they are driving, is an extension of the work place, even if the vehicle is privately owned by the employee. However, licence checking systems, vehicle roadworthiness checking systems etc., are all equally important.

The question I have for the Fleet Managers/Occupational Safety Managers worldwide is, what strategies do you have in place?

About the Author: Howard Redwood is the Head of Road Safety & Programme Development at Driving Instructors Association (DIA) in the UK. This post originally appeared in the LinkedIn group “Drivers and Trainers Association”, and is re-published here with the author’s permission.

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