Annually, over 500 people are killed in work-related road traffic collisions. Research from the Transport Research Laboratory shows that the rates of accidents for business drivers are 29-50% higher than the equivalent private driver.
40% of those travelling for work are either on general business journeys, transiting to meetings or working as field representatives. Other significant vehicle related causes of fatalities at work occur at the interface between employees and transportation. Fork lift trucks and delivery vehicles movements, where good planning and arrangements have not been made and adequate control measures are not in place, can lead to work related deaths and accidents in the workplace itself. Consequently, road safety should be covered by the auspices of a company’s Health and Safety policy. This would detail the criteria for driving any type of vehicle provided for work purposes.
Potential hazards to address and control include:
- Driving excessive hours, which should be managed by establishing clear rules on working time/distances for drivers over a set period and ensuring the safest routes are selected.
- Drowsiness caused by alcohol, drugs or prescription medications should be addressed via a relevant policy setting out rules and such arrangements as random alcohol testing where in place.
- Poor posture while in the vehicle, causing such ailments as back pain, which can be prevented by ensuring the body dimensions can be comfortably accommodated.
- Causes of distraction, such as mobile phone conversations. The prohibition of the use of hand held mobile phones should be enforced, with the use of hands free devices carried out at the side of the road.
- Awareness of adverse weather and road conditions require subsequent awareness of the need to modify driving speed and technique, appropriate to the conditions.
- Vehicle condition requires attention and review: lights, brakes and tyres should be part of regular checks and vehicle servicing arrangements.
- Inappropriate or inadequate vehicle loading must be avoided by ensuring the vehicle is suitable for the load and signage denoting dangerous/hazardous cargo is displayed in accordance with legal requirements.
- Judgement impaired by tiredness and lack of sleep can be prevented by scheduling rest breaks of 15 minutes every two hours. The education of drivers on the dangers of tiredness and driving, with actions to take to mitigate this.
- Hazards during breakdown, such as passing traffic, should be communicated to drivers during awareness training and arrangements for assistance in emergency situations such as road side support should be in place
- Lack of ability/experience in driving the vehicle type must be considered with appropriate licences held and competence to drive and transport the loads allocated ensured.
If driving on a business/work journey and an accident occurs, this should be reported to the police in addition to observing the company’s accident reporting procedure. The following information should be obtained, with no admittance of liability by the driver at the scene of the accident:
- Registration numbers, addresses and names of all drivers involved
- Names and addresses of all those witnessing the accident
- Photographs of the area effected and damage incurred
- Layout of the road where the accident occurred including all surrounding structures, markings and vehicles involved/their positions
- Details of all the insurance specifics of the drivers effected
- Notes related to the time of day, sequence of events, weather and light levels, etc taken
- Names and numbers of police officers involved taken
Finally, it is vital to have business vehicle insurance in place where applicable and ensure your arrangements including policies, risk assessments, safe systems of work and training are all suitable and sufficient for your work transport activities.