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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety





What do we know?

Work-related motor vehicle crashes are often the leading cause of death and a major contributory factor to loss of life in the workplace in industrialized countries.

Work-related crashes are defined here as those at the site of work, and/or crashes during work journeys (except commuting). It should be noted that different definitions of work-related crashes make simple international comparisons of work-related crash statistics difficult. Most countries, however, do not collect comprehensive data which allows definition of the extent of the problem. While work-related road deaths are usually reported at the site of work, few European countries record 'journey purpose' in their national road crash reporting systems which means that the total number of crashes and injuries occurring during work journeys are not recorded. At the same time, while employers, in general, have an obligation to ensure the safety of workers who use large and dangerous machines as part of their employment, no equivalent measures are usually taken with employees who are expected to use vehicles as part of their work [11][50].

Some countries are starting to acknowledge the size and cost of the problem and the need for a systematic approach. There is a wide body of international research on specific issues such as driving fatigue in heavy goods vehicle operations. However, research into work-related road safety (as a whole) is limited. While research, mainly in north-west Europe and Australia, has produced some useful pointers, scientific understanding of the extent of the problem and the scope for improvement in work-related road safety is still in its infancy.

Who is involved?

Work-related road users are not a homogeneous group, but comprise drivers and riders of varying types of vehicle used for a range of purposes (e.g. company cars, vans, pickups, large goods vehicles, buses, taxis, minicabs, emergency vehicles, construction and agricultural machinery, motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles). Additionally many people work on, or near the road, for example maintenance workers, refuse collectors, postal workers, vehicle breakdown employees and the police [10]. The type of work-related driving is also highly varied. Vehicles can be company owned or leased vehicle use solely for business; company owned vehicle use for work and private purposes, or privately owned but used for work purposes.

Work-related car driving in Britain

Over 50% of new cars registered in Britain are company owned or financed, over 10% of driving is work-related and drivers on work-related journeys (not including commuting) drive more than two and a half times the annual distance of drivers of private cars [5].

Who is responsible?

Work-related road use is both a road safety and occupational safety issue. Road traffic law provides the framework for use of public roads. In some national occupational health and safety legislation, the vehicle is considered to be the 'workplace', if driven both on the public highway and at the organization's site. In such cases, employers have an obligation to ensure that vehicles and their operation comprise a working environment that is safe and with as few risks to health as possible. In other countries, employers' responsibilities are confined to the site.

The different responsibilities and limited datasets for various aspects of work-related road safety have, no doubt, contributed to different levels of awareness of the importance of this issue to both road and occupational safety in Europe.