Statistically, driving is the most dangerous thing a person can do at work. In fact, it causes more deaths in the UK than any other work-related accident – at between 800 and 1,000 a year.
With working drivers up to 40% more likely to be involved in a collision than those driving for personal reasons, it’s essential that, as an employer, you do all you can to protect your employees when they’re out on the road. It takes just one work-related collision to result in your prosecution – or worse, the fatality or serious injury of an employee.
Research by Masternaut found that four in 10 business drivers have been given points on their license while at work, with 64% of those being speeding offences.
Although you can never predict or fully control what’s going to happen on the roads, there are some simple measures you can take to minimise the risk of a work-related collision. These should all be included in your written driving for business policy.
Here are 10 simple ways you can protect your working drivers, whether they’re transporting goods, travelling to meetings/jobs, commuting, escorting clients, or any other driving job carried out for work purposes.
1. Assess individual drivers
Always assess individual drivers before they head out on the road. Factors such as attitude, age, experience, familiarity with the vehicle and being on medication can all affect a person’s ability to drive safely.
2. Provide driver awareness training courses
Ask any employee required to travel for work to complete a driver awareness course to equip them with the knowledge they need to drive safely. Often bad habits are picked up over time, and a quick refresh of memory could end up saving a life. Register for a free trial of our WorkRite Driver Awareness E-Learning course to equip working drivers with everything they need to know about reducing driving risks.
3. Encourage alternative transport or communication
Is driving absolutely necessary? Consider first whether the task can be completed in a different way, such as a video conference call, or taking public transport instead.
4. Keep company vehicles in top condition
Make sure you know all the legal requirements for a safe working vehicle (you can find all of these on our e-learning course). Quick checks include oil and water levels, lights, fuel and tyres. Remember that this applies to any vehicle an employee drives for work – even if it is their own.
5. Offer additional support for workers
It is dangerous to be stressed on the road. Not only can stress be distracting, it can also change the driver’s behaviour by making them more easily angered, or emotional at the wheel. This all too often leads to speeding and other forms of reckless driving. Make sure your employees have someone they can talk to at work if they are under home or work stress. Never allow a worker onto the road if you know they are experiencing high levels of stress.
6. Enforce a non-smoking, eating and drinking while driving rule
Lighting a cigarette, opening a sandwich packet, or holding a coffee could all take focus off driving, raising the risk of losing control or lowering reaction time. Enforcing a ban will encourage your working drivers to stop for regular food or smoking breaks.
7. Ban phone calls
While using a mobile phone while driving is a fineable offence, even having a hands-free system in place can cause distractions. Having a no-calls policy will help eliminate the temptation to conduct calls on the move, no matter how urgent they might feel at the time. No phone call is worth the potential results of a collision.
8. Encourage over-night stays
For long distances, put your employees up for the night in a hotel. While a hotel room may seem like an extra and unnecessary cost, consider for a moment the costs of a collision. Work-related collisions are thought to cost UK employers £2.7 billion every year. It’s also nothing on the resulting loss of company reputation, contracts, accident investigation and paperwork.
9. Encourage sensible journey planning
Before each work-related journey, a sensible route should be planned out to take in factors such as traffic, road type, weather conditions and the type of vehicle being driven. Extra time should always be allotted for delays to avoid the temptation to speed, and where possible night-time driving should be avoided.
10. Provide ergonomic assessments
Driving for long periods of time can cause us to slip into unhealthy positions that put strain on our necks/backs/limbs. These can be extremely distracting while driving. It is important to carry out an ergonomic assessment of the driver and vehicle to find out if any adjustments can be made, such as the addition of lumbar supports.