Employees on the road

At least one in four (26 per cent) road casualties in Britain involve an at-work driver. As a road safety charity dedicated to supporting the bereaved and injured victims of road crashes and campaigning for safer roads for all, Brake knows all too well the suffering and trauma road crashes cause.
But we also know, through our long-running work to engage employers through our Fleet Safety Forum, that at-work road crashes can be prevented, often through simple measures. By working with drivers, developing a road safety culture, and implementing tried and tested policies and practices, organisations can help tackle these devastating events and bring about other positive outcomes for their business. Employers who effectively manage their road risk tend to experience a range of benefits including improved staff morale and reputation, and significantly reduced costs. Managing road risk is also a legal requirement: employers have a duty to ensure the safety of all their staff on work time, including when they are driving (excluding commuting).
However, it can be challenging for some employers, particularly small organisations with limited resources and without dedicated fleet or risk managers, to know where to begin and how to direct their efforts. Driving for work is often not considered as an integral part of health and safety. At the same time, even established fleet practitioners benefit from staying abreast with the latest best practice guidance, and learning from what others in this constantly-evolving field have achieved.
That’s why Brake is very pleased to welcome the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) long-awaited update to Driving at work: managing work-related road safety. This publication remains an essential guide for any organisation with employees who drive for work, and self-employed drivers, in helping them prevent needless crashes and casualties and drive down costs. It sets out a step-by-step guide to work-related road safety. It uses a ‘plan, do, check, act’ approach to risk management, covering driver risk, vehicle risk and journey risk.

Driver risks
It is estimated that up to 95 per cent of crashes are down to driver error. At‑work drivers are more susceptible to a range of driving risks than other drivers, including driving tired, which costs at least 300 lives in the UK each year, and using mobile phones at the wheel, which increases crash risk by four times.
Driving at work recommends employers ensure their drivers are capable of operating safely, by: checking driving licences on recruitment and on a regular basis; communicating road safety policies and expectations; regularly assessing training needs and providing training where appropriate; ensuring drivers are fit to drive; and educating drivers on basic vehicle maintenance and key risks.

Vehicle risks
Inadequate vehicle maintenance can cost lives. In 2011, 2,125 crashes in Britain were caused by vehicle defects, 52 of them causing deaths. Vehicle defects can also lead to costly repairs and insurance claims.

Driving at work recommends employers evaluate vehicles for their safety features and suitability before purchase, and ensure privately-owned vehicles are well-maintained and serviced if they are used for work. Daily pre-drive checks should be carried out and defects reported and repaired promptly, with appropriate standards in place for maintenance and repairs, and unsafe vehicles not driven. The guidance states vehicles should be correctly loaded and secured, not exceeding their maximum weight, and appropriate restraints and crash protection features fitted and working. Drivers should be advised on safe and ergonomic posture and seat position.
Brake supports and agrees with these recommendations, as a minimum to ensure vehicles are safe. Brake additionally recommends servicing and repairs are carried out by qualified mechanics, preferably accredited by schemes such as irtec. Employers should ensure in-house mechanics hold appropriate qualifications and accreditation, and provide training as appropriate, and insist on minimum qualification standards and regular training for outsourced mechanics.
Brake is aware vehicle safety and maintenance is a concern for many employers. We are therefore holding a low-cost seminar on vehicle maintenance and mechanics, helping employers apply the advice in Driving at work and go beyond this, on 25 June 2014.

Journey risks
In 2012, 538 pedestrians and cyclists were killed on UK roads, 61 of them children. Brake believes that reducing traffic and vehicle speeds where people walk and cycle is one of the best ways to prevent needless casualties, and employers can play a key role in this.  
Poor journey planning can pressure drivers to take risks such as speeding or driving tired and mean your drivers are driving further and longer than needed. Tired driving kills at least 300 people every year in the UK. Driving at higher speeds increases your risk of being in a crash as you have less time to react to hazards, and poses a particular threat to people on foot and bike.

Driving at work advises employers to consider the safest routes for their vehicle types: for example sticking to motorways wherever possible and avoiding minor roads or those with low bridges for larger vehicles. It recommends planning schedules to take into account when drivers are most likely to feel sleepy, building in time for rest breaks, and considering where drivers can stop and what facilities they may need during breaks. Drivers should be allowed enough time to complete journeys safely, and monitored to ensure they are not putting themselves at risk or breaking drivers’ hours regulations (where applicable).
The guidance also recommends taking weather conditions into account, by: adjusting journey times and routes where possible; ensuring vehicles are suitably equipped for bad weather; educating drivers on bad-weather driving; and ensuring drivers know they can cancel a journey if bad weather makes it unsafe.
Brake welcomes this focus on assessing and planning routes and journeys to minimise risks to drivers and other road users. Brake additionally advises organisations to reduce road travel as far as possible, for example through teleconferencing, remote working or encouraging use of public transport. Where this is not practical (for example, for delivery and logistics companies), journeys should be planned to use the safest, most efficient routes possible.
Road Safety Week
Road Safety Week, the UK’s flagship road safety event coordinated by Brake, is a great opportunity for employers to ensure they and their drivers are doing everything possible to protect vulnerable road users and make local communities safer. This year it takes place 17-23 November, focusing on the theme “Look out for each other”.
Brake will be calling on everyone to look out for one another on roads, but particularly drivers to watch out for more vulnerable road users. Employers are encouraged to get involved, which could include running awareness-raising activities to promote the importance of drivers slowing down to protect pedestrians and cyclists, or launching and promoting new risk management initiatives, or working with the local community to promote road safety.

Next steps for fleets
The HSE’s Driving at work guidance presents a practical outline of how employers can comply with their legal obligations and duty of care to their employees and the wider public. Brake believes it is essential reading for any organisation with employees who drive for work, and should form the basis of a comprehensive risk management policy and strategy.
We are encouraging employers – especially those starting out in risk management, or wanting to check they have the basics in place – to use it alongside our own Essential guide to fleet safety, recently produced with the support of the Department for Transport. It’s specifically aimed at small businesses and employers with less experience in road risk management.
All organisations with staff that drive for work, whatever their level of experience in road risk management, can benefit from the tools, guidance and case studies provided through Brake’s Fleet Safety Forum.
This respected service helps employers keep up to speed with fleet safety best practice, and ensure they are equipped to not only apply the vital steps recommended in Driving at work, but go beyond, and make at-work road safety a priority across their business.

Further information

Event Diary

In an age characterised by rapid technological advancements, the Communication Technology Expo stands as a beacon of innovation, education, and connectivity. This annual event has become a pivotal gathering for tech enthusiasts, industry professionals, and curious minds eager to explore the ever-evolving landscape of communication technology. With a commitment to bridging the digital divide and fostering collaboration, the Communication Technology Expo has earned its reputation as a must-attend event in the world of technology.

Origins and Evolution