If you’re like many Americans, you’ve spent significantly less time behind the wheel of a car in the past year than normal. Between working from home, avoiding non-essential outings, and limiting the essential ones, our vehicles have had it easy. With so many people spending less time driving, you would think that our nation’s roads would be significantly safer today than they were a year ago.
That has not, however, been the case. In fact, despite a significant drop in miles driven, 2020 proved more perilous than 2019 for American motorists.
Against this backdrop, Captive Resources (CRI) invited Lisa Robinson, the Senior Program Manager of Roadway Strategy at the National Safety Council (NSC), to join our regular Risk Control Webinar series. Robinson’s presentation focused on reducing employer risk through ongoing transportation safety education. Here’s a recap of a significant component of Robinson’s presentation: explaining why a driver safety program is essential for every company and employee.
As we touched on earlier, 2020 was a dangerous year for motorists. According to Robinson, the number of motor-vehicle deaths increased 7 percent year-over-year through November 2020 — from 35,879 fatalities in the first 11 months of 2019 to 38,370 deaths in 2020.
Counterintuitively, this increase in fatalities accompanied an almost 14 percent drop in miles driven between 2020 and 2019. After seeing declining motor-vehicle deaths in the first four months of the year — including the first two months of the pandemic (March and April) — fatalities were on a steady upward trend in 2020.
Increasingly dangerous roads are an ominous sign for employers. In 2019, transportation incidents were by far the leading cause of occupational fatalities, causing almost 25 percent more deaths than the second and third leading causes combined.
Taking steps like implementing a driver safety program can help keep your employees safe on the road, which is great for workers’ health and morale, as well as your company’s bottom line.
If you’ve already recognized the need for a more effective driver safety program at your company but are having trouble getting buy-in, consider these stats from the NSC:
Medically consulted injuries in motor-vehicle incidents totaled 4.5 million in 2018, and total motor-vehicle injury costs were estimated at $445.6 billion. Costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor-vehicle property damage, and employer costs.
While the frequency of and costs associated with motor-vehicle incidents are undoubtedly alarming, there’s hope for employers. According to Robinson, most accidents are within the drivers’ control — with roughly 90 percent of crashes involving human error. This stat would suggest a robust driver safety program could go a long way in preventing incidents and reducing costs by stressing the importance of your employees remaining alert and attentive the entire time they’re behind the wheel.
Whether you work in a transportation-heavy industry like trucking or for a company that requires little to no on-the-job driving, there’s a good chance your employees are still exposed to road hazards every day. Whether it’s commuting to and from work, occasionally driving as part of the workday, or renting a car on a work trip, your employees are frequently on the road.
“100 percent of our employees are exposed to transportation risk,” said Robinson. “And it’s important that our driver safety program include everybody,” even those who don’t strictly drive as part of their job description.
For businesses, ensuring your employees are safe drivers has as much or more impact off-the-job as it does on. When an employee gets injured in an accident, it will still cost your company even if it happens outside of work. According to Robinson, motor-vehicle crashes lead to 1.628 million lost workdays per year. Of that number, only 155,000 of those days resulted from on-the-job crashes, which means that more than 90 percent of the lost time was attributed to incidents during non-working hours.
If the reasons above have you convinced that your company needs a new driver safety program, Robinson offered several resources you can leverage to help get you on track. Here are a few of those resources:
Head to the website for Our Driving Concern — an initiative from the NSC led by Robinson that provides free training, education, and resources on transportation and driver safety topics.
To help keep driver safety top of mind for your employees, Our Driving Concern created a looping video you can play in your lobby.
If you’re looking for a way to engage your team in driver-safety conversation, Our Driving Concern has a set of 112 Safety Coach Cards. The cards have talking points and questions with answers on essential driving safety topics.
Our Driving Concern found an interesting way to help you disseminate safety information to your employees when they’re least distracted. Toilet Tabloids are a monthly resource with important traffic safety messages to share in your company bathroom. According to Robinson, this strategy leads to more than a 95 percent read rate and an 84 percent retention rate.
This presentation was part of CRI’s Risk Control Webinar Series — weekly installments of webinars to educate the group captive members we work with on topics like workplace safety, organizational leadership, and company performance. The thoughts and opinions expressed in these webinars are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect CRI’s positions on any of the above topics.