“Driving is the most dangerous work activity that most people do” according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
Extensive research has been undertaken by vehicle satellite navigation provider TomTom. They have identified a number of surprising headline issues including:
i) 60% of companies with five employees or more reported staff members had been involved in road traffic accidents while driving for business; (78% claimed this resulted in lost productivity due to injury or time off work)
ii) 20% of UK businesses lack a driving safety policy.
Training and Technology
The research also found that 57% of businesses provided driving training and of those that did, 38% provided it once every six months or less frequently. Just over half (53%) provide drivers with technological tools or driver aids to help them drive more safely.
Beverley Wise, director UK & Ireland at TomTom Telematics commented on the fact that driving is one of the most high risk activities that the majority of workers will conduct as part of their job, but is too often seen as a poor relation to workplace health and safety.
“Businesses should also be aware that a proactive approach to road safety can deliver further business benefits. By employing technology to monitor driver behaviour and providing drivers with live feedback, supported by targeted coaching and training, it is possible to reduce fuel spend, cut insurance premiums and boost productivity.”
Safety Smart Comment:
• There has been much discussion in the health and safety community since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 about the likelihood of a prosecution for corporate manslaughter involving a company vehicle on a public road.
• To date, there have been no successful prosecutions of this type, but it is anticipated that it is only a matter of time before the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecute the “right case” when a company is found responsible for:
• causing a person’s death;
• owing the deceased a duty of care;
• responsible for a gross (not minor) breach of that duty of care;
• a substantial element of that breach was in the way those activities were managed or organized by senior management.
• Therefore, we would suggest that all businesses give the same priority to their driving policy as they do to their workplace health and safety.
• The reality is that it is much easier to manage health and safety in the workplace where it is a construction site or a manufacturing business, as personnel on site are trained and responsible for overseeing health and safety on the ground. However, with a corporate driving policy, a company must ensure that regular checks are made to confirm that all members of staff are complying with the driving policy. For example, if there is a company policy of not making work calls when driving, then it is important that companies ask drivers to sign to confirm that they will not make or take any calls whilst driving as part of their job.
• If, however it is essential for employees to take calls whilst driving, for example if they are a professional driver, then company policy should state that they will only take calls through a hands free handset as required by law. Ideally, this requirement should be introduced with training or at least an email and explanation of why the policy is in place and confirmation of the consequence for failing to comply with the company policy.
• HSE assistance in this regard can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg382.pdf