Every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs and every 5 seconds a crash occurs. Many of these incidents occur during the workday or during the commute to and from work. Employers bear the cost for injuries that occur both on and off the job. Whether you manage a fleet of vehicles, oversee a mobile sales force or simply employ commuters, by implementing a driver safety program in the workplace you can greatly reduce the risks faced by your employees and their families while protecting your company's bottom line.
Set Up a Safe Driving Program to Keep Your Employees Safe on the Road
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for all ages. Crashes on and off the job have far-reaching financial and psychological effects on employees, their coworkers and families, and their employers.
You need a driver safety program:
Your program should work to keep the driver and those with whom he/she shares the road safe. And, if necessary, the program must work to change driver attitudes, improve behavior, and increase skills to build a "be safe" culture. By instructing your employees in basic safe driving practices and then rewarding safety-conscious behavior, you can help your employees and their families avoid tragedy.
Employees are an employer's most valuable assets. Workplace driver safety programs not only make good business sense but also are a good employee relations tool, demonstrating that employers care about their employees.
This booklet outlines ten steps for building a driver safety program in your workplace. These steps will be useful to any organization regardless of size of the organization, type of traffic encountered, number of vehicles involved, or whether employees drive company or personal vehicles for work purposes. Also included are real-life examples of successful safety programs, key traffic safety issues to address in the workplace, instructions for calculating your organization's loss from motor vehicle crashes, and a list of resources to help you fine-tune your program.
Promoting Safe Driving Practices Helps Your Bottom Line
Motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. They drive up the cost of benefits such as workers' compensation, Social Security, and private health and disability insurance. In addition, they increase the company overhead involved in administering these programs.
The average crash costs an employer $16,500. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. Off-the-job crashes are costly to employers as well.1
The real tragedy is that these crashes are largely preventable. Recognizing the opportunity that employers have to save lives, a growing number of employers have established traffic safety programs in their companies. No organization can afford to ignore a major problem that has such a serious impact on both their personnel and the company budget.
Calculate Your Costs for Motor Vehicle Crashes
To understand the impact of motor vehicle crashes on your organization, use the Costs of Traffic Crashes to Employers Worksheet, found at the end of this booklet, to calculate the cost of your crashes. You may want to initially select one recent crash to illustrate the magnitude and complexity of such losses. Once you master the worksheet for one crash, you can then apply it to all the crashes experienced in a chosen time frame (e.g., annually) within your organization to characterize your crash loss profile.
Once you know the costs associated with motor vehicle crashes you will realize that the costs associated with implementing a driver safety program are minimal compared to the costs of crashes to your organization. Examples abound of the positive return-on-investment (ROI) realized by companies - small, medium, and large - that have implemented well-designed safety programs for the benefit of their employees. In fact, the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company reported in 2001 that, based on its Executive Survey of Workplace Safety, 61 percent of surveyed business executives believe their companies receive an ROI of $3.00 or more for every $1.00 they spent on improving workplace safety.2
Where to Start
Depending on the size of your organization, you may have access to all of the data that you need. Or you may need to work with your human resource manager, safety manager, workers' compensation representative, accountants, and medical and motor vehicle insurance representatives to obtain the numbers you'll need.
Costs of Motor Vehicle Crashes to Employers Worksheet
Use the worksheet below to estimate the cost of a motor vehicle crash to your organization. The costs included on the worksheet will be estimates based upon the records, receipts and recall of those involved with the crash. It may be helpful to consult copies of accident reports, police reports, damage receipts, insurance claim records and payroll records. It is often very difficult to identify all costs associated with these crashes, so use the best information you have available. If your company incurred expenses not listed on the worksheet, be sure to include them.
NETS 10 Step Program to Minimize Crash Risk
The 10-Step Program provides guidelines for what an employer can do to improve traffic safety performance and minimize the risk of motor vehicle crashes. Following these steps helps to ensure that you hire capable drivers, only allow eligible drivers to drive on company business, train them, supervise them, and maintain company vehicles properly. Adherence to these 10 steps can also help to keep your motor vehicle insurance costs as low as possible.
These steps are from the NETS Traffic Safety Primer:
Step 1: Senior Management Commitment and Employee Involvement The safety of an organization's employees as they drive for work and to and from work is so important that it requires the attention of top-level management. Senior management can provide leadership, set policies, and allocate resources (staff and budget) to create a safety culture. Actively encouraging employee participation and involvement at all levels of the organization is a good practice and will help the effort to succeed. Workers and their representatives must be involved in the initial planning phase.
Step 2: Written Policies and Procedures A written statement emphasizing the commitment to reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries is essential to a successful program. Create a clear, comprehensive and enforceable set of traffic safety policies and communicate them to all employees. These are the cornerstones of an effective driver safety program. Post them throughout the workplace, distribute copies periodically, and discuss the policies at company meetings. Offer incentives for sticking to the rules, and point out the consequences of disregarding them. Below are sample policies that can be adapted for use by your company.
Sample Alcohol and Drug Use Policy (Name of Company/Organization) has a vital interest in maintaining safe, healthy, and efficient working conditions for its employees. Therefore, the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs by any employee during "duty hours" is prohibited. Duty hours consist of all working hours, including break periods and on-call periods, whether on or off company premises. The consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs while performing company business or while in a company facility is prohibited.
Sample Seat Belt Use Policy
(Name of Company/Organization) recognizes that seat belts are extremely effective in preventing injuries and loss of life. It is a simple fact that wearing your seat belt can reduce your risk of dying in a traffic crash by 45 percent in a car and by as much as 60 percent in a truck or SUV.
We care about our employees, and want to make sure that no one is injured or killed in a tragedy that could have been prevented by the use of seat belts. Therefore, all employees of (Name of Company/Organization) must wear seat belts when operating a company-owned vehicle, or any vehicle on company premises or on company business; and all occupants are to wear seat belts or, where appropriate, child restraints when riding in a company-owned vehicle, or in a personal vehicle being used for company business. All employees and their families are strongly encouraged to always use seat belts and the proper child restraints whenever they are driving or riding in any vehicle, in any seating position.
Step 3: Driver Agreements Establish a contract with all employees who drive for work purposes, whether they drive assigned company vehicles or drive their personal vehicles. By signing an agreement, the driver acknowledges awareness and understanding of the organization's traffic safety policies, procedures, and expectations regarding driver performance, vehicle maintenance and reporting of moving violations.
Step 4: Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Checks Check the driving records of all employees who drive for work purposes. You must screen out drivers who have poor driving records since they are most likely to cause problems in the future. The MVR should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the driver maintains a good driving record. Clearly define the number of violations an employee/driver can have before losing the privilege of driving for work, and provide training where indicated.
Step 5: Crash Reporting and Investigation Establish and enforce a crash reporting and investigation process. All crashes, regardless of severity, should be reported to the employee's supervisor as soon as feasible after the incident. Company traffic safety policies and procedures should clearly guide drivers through their responsibilities in a crash situation. All crashes should be reviewed to determine their cause and whether or not the incidents were preventable. Understanding the root causes of crashes and why they are happening, regardless of fault, forms the basis for eliminating them in the future.
Step 6: Vehicle Selection, Maintenance and Inspection Selecting, properly maintaining and routinely inspecting company vehicles is an important part of preventing crashes and related losses.
It is advisable that the organization review and consider the safety features of all vehicles to be considered for use. Those vehicles that demonstrate "best in class" status for crash-worthiness and overall safety should be chosen and made available to drivers.
For the latest information on crash test ratings and other important vehicle safety information, visit www.safercar.gov. To report a concern about a defect or problem with your vehicle, contact the NHTSA Auto Safety Hotline at: 1-888-DASH-2-DOT.
Vehicles should be on a routine preventive maintenance schedule for servicing and checking of safety-related equipment. Regular maintenance should be done at specific mileage intervals consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations. A mechanic should do a thorough inspection of each vehicle at least annually with documented results placed in the vehicle's file.
Personal vehicles used for company business are not necessarily subject to the same criteria and are generally the responsibility of the owner. However, personal vehicles used on company business should be maintained in a manner that provides the employee with maximum safety and reflects positively on the company.
Step 7: Disciplinary Action System Develop a strategy to determine the course of action after the occurrence of a moving violation and/or "preventable" crash. There are a variety of corrective action programs available; the majority of these are based on a system that assigns points for moving violations. The system should provide for progressive discipline if a driver begins to develop a pattern of repeated traffic violations and/or preventable crashes. The system should describe what specific action(s) will be taken if a driver accumulates a certain number of violations or preventable crashes in any pre-defined period.
Step 8: Reward/Incentive Program Develop and implement a driver reward/incentive program to make safe driving an integral part of your business culture. Safe driving behaviors contribute directly to the bottom line and should be recognized as such. Positive results are realized when driving performance is incorporated into the overall evaluation of job performance. Reward and incentive programs typically involve recognition, monetary rewards, special privileges or the use of incentives to motivate the achievement of a predetermined goal or to increase participation in a program or event.
Step 9: Driver Training/Communication Provide continuous driver safety training and communication. Even experienced drivers benefit from periodic training and reminders of safe driving practices and skills. It is easy to become complacent and not think about the consequences of our driving habits.
Step 10: Regulatory Compliance Ensure adherence to highway safety regulations. It is important to clearly establish which, if any, local, state, and/or federal regulations govern your vehicles and/or drivers. These regulations may involve, but may not necessarily be limited to the:
Promote Safe Driving Practices to Protect Your Most Valuable Investment – Your Employees
The increasing traffic congestion on our nation's roadways wastes significant time and money, reduces productivity and promotes risky driving behavior. Employees may feel pressured to drive faster and for longer periods of time and to engage in potentially distracting in-vehicle activities to meet their job responsibilities. Engaging in unsafe driving practices affects those who occasionally drive their personal vehicles for work purposes as well as those who spend their workday driving a company vehicle.
As an employer, do your part by keeping your parking lot well lighted and well maintained. Keep roadway and parking spaces properly striped, and clear of debris and snow. Install signs at parking lot exits reminding employees to buckle their seat belts and drive safely. Let your concern for their safety be their final thought as they leave your parking lot.
Employers have enormous power to protect their businesses by educating their employees about safe driving practices. The safety issues described below should be addressed in an employee awareness and training program.
More detailed information on Aggressive Driving, Distracted Driving, Drowsy Driving and Impaired Driving can be found beginning on page 27.
Secure Materials for Transport
Tools or equipment should be secured while being transported to prevent unsafe movement of materials. During a crash or when making sudden maneuvers, loose objects can slide around or become airborne, injuring the driver and any passengers. Objects that could become a hazard should be secured or stored outside the passenger compartment.
Seat Belt Use
Seat belts are the single most effective means of reducing deaths and serious injuries in traffic crashes. As the most effective safety device in vehicles, they save nearly 12,000 lives and prevent 325,000 serious injuries in America each year. During a crash, anyone not wearing a seat belt will slam into the steering wheel, windshield, or other parts of the interior, or be ejected from the vehicle.
Distracted driving is a factor in 25 to 30 percent of all traffic crashes. With hectic schedules and roadway delays, many employees feel pressured to multi-task just to keep up with their personal and work-related responsibilities. More time on the road means less time at home or at work but "drive time" can never mean "down time." Since drivers make more than 200 decisions during every mile traveled, it's critical for employers to stress that when driving for work, safe driving is their primary responsibility.
Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driving
Alcohol use is involved in 40 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes, representing an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 30 minutes. It is estimated that three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an impaired driving-related crash some time in their life. Alcohol, certain prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and illegal drugs can all affect a person's ability to drive safely due to decreased alertness, concentration, coordination and reaction time. Businesses pay a high price for alcohol and drug abuse; alcohol is a contributing factor in 39 percent of all work-related traffic crashes.
Fatigued or drowsy driving may be involved in more than 100,000 crashes each year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. Sadly, these numbers represent only the tip of the iceberg since these crashes are seriously under-reported. These days, it's more important than ever for employees to be well rested, alert and sober on the road so that they are in a position to defend themselves from drivers who do not make the same choice. Train employees to make smart decisions when they're behind the wheel, on and off the job.
Employees commuting to and from work and traveling for work purposes often find themselves caught up in bottlenecks and traffic delays, wasting their time and reducing their productivity. These situations create a high level of frustration that can spark aggressive driving behavior. The roadway is one place that being aggressive never pays.
Aggressive driving acts include excessive speed, tailgating, failure to signal a lane change, running a red light and passing on the right. The best advice is to avoid engaging in conflict with other drivers and to allow others to merge.
Motor Vehicle Guide Young Drivers
The 16-20-year-old population represents a significant highway safety problem. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of fatalities for teens. Historically, this group is the age group that has the lowest seat belt use rate and is the most likely to engage in risky driving behaviors that include: speeding, driving while alcohol or drug impaired and when drowsy. It is important for employers with young workers to actively promote safe driving practices.
We have learned much about teen driver safety during the past decade. There are proven, specific safety benefits from a variety of best practices that are commonly referred to as "graduated driver licensing" or GDL. GDL practices have resulted in substantial reductions in crashes, injuries and fatalities for novice teenage drivers.
Under Federal law, 16-year-old workers are prohibited from driving as part of their job, and 17-year-olds may drive for work only under strictly limited circumstances. Some state laws may be more restrictive than Federal laws. For more information on child labor laws visit, www.youthrules.dol.gov or www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/youth/.
Reach Out to Family and Community Members
Once your driver safety program is operational, consider extending it to your employees' families and members of your community. Employers are in a position to foster safe driving practices and reduce the number of traffic crashes in their communities. Employer programs not only inform employees about traffic hazards and educate them about responsible driving practices but they can create a safer roadway environment for the entire community.
Four reasons for reaching out to employees' families and members of the community:
Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).