On the Road to Safety

Peninsula Team

November 25 2011

Up to one third of all road collisions in Ireland are estimated to involve drivers who are using their vehicle for work. This means that a minimum of around 75 people die in work related road crashes in Ireland each year. This does not include those travelling to and from work, but just persons who use a vehicle to perform their duties.

Vehicles are the biggest cause of work related deaths and a significant contributor to work related injuries. Studies show that people who drive company cars have between 30% and 40% more collisions than ‘ordinary’ drivers and people who drive more than 40,000kms a year would be considered to be in a high risk category. We damage company vehicles more than our own too. Just ask any fleet manager how many wing mirrors he has had to replace in the last 12 months and compare it against how many wing mirrors are damaged in the private car park. Human nature seems to dictate that we are just not as careful when we drive ‘someone else’s’ vehicle and are in a rush to get the job done. Other issues are that we generally don’t see driving as a risky task and we generally assume we are better more skilful drivers than we actually are.

According to the Road Safety Authority up to half of all companies do not have policies and procedures for occupational driving and most of these have no systems for managing driving at work. A 2008 Health and Safety Authority survey of businesses also found that there was a lack of awareness of their duties to manage work related driving activities. Whilst professional freight carriers and coach operators are well aware of their responsibilities and how to operate there are a large number of companies who run fleets of light delivery vehicles, service vans and sales rep’s cars, there is also the often overlooked ‘grey’ fleet. The ‘grey ‘fleet is made up of private cars which are used by employees to conduct their business, these very often get overlooked. Driving for work includes any person who drives on a road as part of their work (not including commuting) either in a company vehicle or their own vehicle, receiving an allowance from their employer for miles driven.

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 an employer has a duty to protect the health and safety of staff who drive for work.

So what, as responsible employers, are companies required to do?

  • Employers must carry out a Risk Assessment that covers the three key areas of Driving for Work: Driver, Journey & Vehicle
  • From this they should produce a Driving for Work Policy, which includes your procedures to manage driver safety.
  • Staff should be made aware of their duties through the issue of a Driver's Handbook
  • Employers should ensure all licences are checked at least annually, but preferably by having a 6 monthly check where drivers produce their licences.
  • All vehicles should be serviced by a competent person and organisation and all maintenance and servicing details should be kept on file.
  • Drivers should receive appropriate training and as with all training it should be recorded.

According to Noel Brett, CEO, Road Safety Authority, “The driving for work guidelines will assist employers manage their staff’s road safety” Organisations need to have policies and procedures incorporated into their Safety Statement to provide an overview of legislation, they need to carry out risk assessments and implement control measures.

What are the benefits to employers of having systems and procedures in place, aside from compliance with the law?

There are a number of benefits; if you take an active participation in how your drivers behave you will see a positive reduction in accidents, damages and injuries. This will lead to a knock on effect of less investigation time, less administration of claims and an improved public image. You will see a reduction in fuel consumption – with the spiralling cost of fuel, this is a significant benefit to the organisation. A reduction in wear and tear will bring down servicing and parts costs and increase the resale value of your vehicles.

So it is clear that there are economic and sound business reasons for effectively managing your occupational drivers alongside clear legal requirements. If you need assistance in implementing procedures contact Peninsula Business services on 01 855 4861


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