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Preventing Fatalities from Work-Related Road Crashes

One of the least known facts about work-related fatalities and injuries is that motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the workplace. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) observes that motor vehicle crashes kill more than 2,100 people while they are working and injure another 353,000. The average job-related motor vehicle crash costs an employer $16,500. 

Research conducted by The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2003 discovered that crashes involving vehicles on public roadways were the leading cause of work-related fatalities. Crashes accounted for almost a quarter of all fatal work-related injuries.

Preventing employee roadway fatalities presents some unique challenges. The roadway is not a closed environment where conditions can be easily monitored. If employers want to prevent work-related roadway crashes, they must combine traffic safety principles and safety management practices. Employers can promote safe driving by providing workers with safety information and by establishing and enforcing driver safety policies.

It is fundamental to start by assigning a key member of the management team the responsibility of enforcing a comprehensive driver safety policy. An important part of that policy is enforcing the mandatory use of seat belts.

Workers shouldn’t drive irregular hours or for an excessive amount of time after their normal working hours. Workers should be instructed to never conduct business on a cell phone while they are driving. Insist that employees obey speed limits and follow applicable driving regulations.

Be vigilant in monitoring that workers assigned to drive on the job not only have a valid driver’s license, but also one that is appropriate for the type of vehicle driven. Check the driving records of prospective hires, and continue to perform periodic rechecks after they are employed. Maintain accurate records of each worker’s driving performance.

Employee education plays a vital role in any roadway crash prevention program. Educate workers on how to recognize driver fatigue and what strategies they can use to combat it. They should also be taught how to avoid in-vehicle distractions. Provide additional training to workers operating specialized motor vehicles or equipment in the correct procedures of operation. Place emphasis on the need for workers to follow safe driving practices both on and off the job.

It is also important that your vehicles offer the highest possible levels of occupant protection.  Be sure that part of your prevention program also involves implementing a structured vehicle maintenance program.