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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Employer policies



Employer policies

Over the last 10 years, awareness of the importance of work-related road safety together with developing national governmental policy in this field has led to an increasing level of activity on the part of employers, both in the private and public sectors. The rationale for development includes:

  • Responding to new national government policy
  • Desire of government departments to lead by example in adopting in-house work-related safety policies
  • Contributing to national and regional road safety policies and targets
  • Responding to transport system quality goals
  • Cutting organization road crash and incident costs
  • Improving organization profile

To date, little evaluation has been made of the effectiveness of different approaches. Examples are presented below.



Public sector as exemplar

National government: In Sweden and some of the Australian States, the lead agency for road safety has adopted a travel and fleet policy aimed at reducing occupational road safety risks. The Swedish Road Administration's Travel Policy was introduced in January 1998. This policy relates to fleet cars and rental cars used by the employees. The safety specification relates to frontal and side protection, weight of the vehicle and ABS brakes. The use of the vehicle in terms of safety has also been specified. In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Transport has adopted a broad vision for in-house road safety which is realised by safety management and the establishment of a safety culture.

Regional or State government: Other examples include the Transport Accident Commission Vehicle Purchase Policy, Victoria and the New South Wales policy at State level in Australia.

Local government also plays a role. For example, in Sweden, the municipality of Gothenburg purchases bus and tram services from a corporation and sets out specific requirements in terms of speed etc. which are built into contracts. The stated speeds may be lower than the posted speed limits in certain areas. If speed limits are exceeded, the contract is used to negotiate the consequences. The following is an example where actual road user legislation is combined with contracts. In 1997, the Borlänge municipality in Sweden started a programme to purchase transport services featuring safety as a key element. Transport providers had to provide their service in a way that is safe in terms of vehicle used, drivers used and the way the vehicle is driven. The contracts between the local government and the providers specified that the provider must have a quality system in place to be able to guarantee the safety standard. A local non-governmental traffic safety organization was contracted to audit the activity to ensure that safety systems were in place [29].


Private sector

A growing number of companies are embarking upon work-related road safety activities in European countries. However, very few programmes have been studied to establish the effectiveness of the variety of the approaches and measures adopted.

A survey of over 1000 organizations in Scotland about work-related road safety indicated that just under two thirds of organizations (64%) claimed to have a policy relating to safe driving procedures (70% of large organizations and 60% of medium sized organizations). About one third of those with a safe policy reported that they had demonstrated positive results. However, when these were followed up in order to identify case studies, it appeared that organizations reported having a policy if they had a general health and safety policy, even where this was not specific to work-related road safety. Where organizations had taken some action, usually training, this often could not be backed up with evidence of improvement, partly due to the lack of data on which to compare before and after training intervention [31].

An Australian review of international practice found that there often appears to be a gap between those responsible for fleet management and those responsible for occupational health and safety within an organization [29].

Company case studies cited by the UK Health and Safety Executive illustrate a range of current practice in large companies in Britain. Also listed are examples from Sweden.

Swedish private sector initiatives

In Sweden a taxi company in Sodertalje, a city with many large companies, has developed and implemented a safety and environmental policy in order to provide especially the large clients with a safe and environmentally sound transport service. The policy relates mainly to driving, requiring that speed limits should be complied with and that special consideration is given to unprotected road users. The policy is perceived by the company to offer competitive advantage, gaining more clients having a positive impact on some of the larger clients [29] .

Swedish insurance companies are responsible for approximately half of the rental car market with most of this demand comprising replacement cars for cars under repair [20]. The Folksam insurance company has developed environmental and safety requirements that must be met by the rental car companies with which it forms agreement. In 1999, the safety requirements were set out as follows."The cars which meet with our approval must firstly meet the requirements of alternative I below. If the car in question is not represented in our ranking list, it should meet the requirements of alternative II. If the car is not listed in Euro NCAP's research results, alternative III will apply.

I At least 20 percent safer than the average car (safety class green or blue)

II Safety classified with 3 or 4 stars, in accordance with Euro NCAP's crash test results

III Meets European requirements for head-on and side-impact collisions (96/79/EEG and 96/27/EEG)" [20].