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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Introduction | PDF



Work-related motor vehicle road crashes occur at the workplace and in driving associated with work (excluding commuting). Most work-related crashes involve company cars. In the United States, Australia and the European Union, work-related crashes contribute about one quarter to over one third of all work-related deaths. Improving work-related road safety and fleet management would much improve road safety as a whole. Scientific understanding and monitoring of key problem areas, solutions and their effects on road and occupational crash injury, however, is limited and needs to be developed further.

The problem

Severe health loss: Work-related motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the workplace in industrialized countries. In Britain, about one fifth of all road crashes involve someone at work.

Higher risks: Professional driving is a highly hazardous activity, involving far higher risks than those encountered in virtually any other occupation or most other activities of daily life. Despite the fact that their rate of death in road crashes is lower than for other groups of road users, professional drivers impose substantial risks on other groups of road users [17]. High mileage work-related driving in cars and light vans leads to a higher risk of crash involvement than similar non-work driving but crash causes are similar. Drivers at work are a heterogeneous group and further research is needed to allow full analysis of the work-related risk factors which affect different groups.

High costs: The costs of work-related crashes are high both for society and employers.

Barriers to effective activity: include limited collection of basic data e.g. 'purpose of journey' data, operational procedures and structures, lack of senior management commitment, poor integration between fleet safety and occupational health and safety, reliance on 'claims-led' procedures, inadequate crash investigation, a reactive rather than proactive response to injury prevention and inflexible attitudes to change and poor management.

Work-related road safety management

Policy frameworks: Work-related road use is both a road safety and occupational safety issue covered within the framework of international and national road traffic law and health and safety law. The need for a systematic approach within national road safety and occupational health programmes is starting to be acknowledged in several countries. Small improvements could lead to large benefits.

Employer policies: There is an increasing level of activity by employers in the public and private sectors. In Sweden and some of the Australian States, the lead agency for road safety, local and state authorities, insurance and research organizations have led by example with safe travel and fleet policies aimed at reducing occupational road safety risk. Many companies have embarked upon work-related road safety activities but few programmes have been studied to establish the effectiveness of the variety of the approaches and measures adopted.

Strategies, measures and their implementation:

Data: Some countries include 'journey purpose' in their national crash reporting; conduct linkage studies; require employers to conduct risk assessments; encourage gathering, recording, analysis and monitoring of road incident data (including damage only), injury crashes, driver and vehicle history.

Safety culture and championing: Fleet safety is most likely to be improved by introducing integrated sets of data-led measures based on a strong safety culture within the organization and strong commitment from senior management. The relatively low crash involvement of tankers carrying flammable goods merits examination to identify useful lessons for fleet management in general.

Driver recruitment and testing: Recruitment of safer drivers based on personality profiles, risk perception, experience, age, and medical screening takes place, although evaluation of driver selection strategies is limited. More stringent driving tests do not appear to lead to fewer crashes.

Driver training: No evidence exists in the form of scientific controlled studies that conventional fleet driver training is effective in crash reduction, despite the strong belief to the contrary by those involved. Formal, defensive driver training at the workplace, combined with incentive systems for crash-free driving, can reduce the crash rate by around 20% amongst professional drivers.

Work scheduling: Unless companies adopt work schedules to ensure that drivers are not pressured by time and do not have to undergo long driving trips after a full day's work, the effectiveness of any driver-based measure may be undermined by day to day practices and pressures.

Fleet safety policies: While such policies have not yet been evaluated, the benefits of ensuring that vehicle fleets are as safe as possible in their construction and safety equipment are likely to be large.

Implementation issues: Guidance for employers on work-related road safety strategies, safer fleet purchase and safer road use at work has been developed at national, state, and local levels and by the non-governmental sector. Government-appointed task-forces, stakeholder coalitions and advocacy, all-party parliamentary committees and sustainable funding help drive safety management improvements.