Work trips and fatalities: Preventing vehicle accidents

February 25th, 2011

For many, travelling is a large component of their job, with about one-third of all driving being business related. This means that driving safely on work trips is imperative for prevention of vehicle accidents and fatalities. Regardless of whether things already run smoothly, or safety precautions are an inconvenience, every business must incorporate safety practices into their work travel routines. Evidence is mounting to suggest that many road fatalities involve drivers at work, so addressing this issue may not only protect the driver, but also save the lives of others on the road.

Administrative solutions

Firstly, companies should provide some level of road safety training, and provide supporting resource material as a reference for drivers post-training. Initial selection of suitable vehicles and skilled drivers compatible with purpose of the company can also reduce risks on the road. Consistent disciplinary policies on driving infringements and education on the warning signs of driver fatigue are among many effective pro-active measures. Recording and monitoring of all accidents, incidents, hours and fuel consumption can lead to identification of unsafe drivers and practices.

Practical Solutions

Travelling for work often involves driving an unfamiliar company or hire vehicle, so it’s important to clarify a few practicalities before drivers leave the car park. This includes finding headlights, hazard lights and lock switches to ensure the driver can operate them quickly and easily if the need arises.  The driver should also map the entire route, including rest, food and fuel breaks, and program the GPS before beginning to drive. Taking time out to prepare for the trip will save time later on, when there are no breakdowns or incidents of getting lost.

Reward systems

Incentives and disincentives to encourage safe-driving practices is one of the best ways to deter employees from taking shortcuts in their safety practices. Reward systems work best with monetary and benefit bonuses issued to drivers who are not involved in accidents over a certain period of time.  Drivers who accurately and consistently fill out necessary documentation, even if regarding incidents, must also be rewarded as this practice allows the company to respond effectively to incidents. A prompt response to an accident can ensure bad press is limited and the business’s reputation maintained.

A safe company avoids the massive monetary costs of legal and public relations matters even in the event of a serious accident, as they have adequate defence in proof of safety procedures and policies. Valuable clients with high safety standards can be secured by businesses with current and dynamic worker safety schemes. Ultimately, the quality of customer service, worker efficiency and level of asset damage is dependent on safety. Not only can accidents and fatalities be prevented, but also improvements in operation of the whole business can be achieved through better road safety.