Road Safety News

Brake survey highlights ‘at-work’ driver menace

Friday 4th January 2013

A significant number of people who drive for work are risking crashes by texting, speeding and grooming at the wheel, according to research released today (4 January) by Brake and Direct Line.

In a survey of 532 at-work drivers, 31% admitted to texting while driving; 17% admitted to carrying out personal grooming activities such as applying make up and even shaving behind the wheel; and 76% admitted to driving at more than 35mph in built up areas.

Brake points out that 30% of journeys on Britain’s roads are made by drivers who are at work, and the charity estimates that these drivers are 30-40% more likely to be involved in a crash than people driving in their own time.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “It is appalling so many people who drive in a professional capacity are taking such unnecessary risks, doing things we all know are unbelievably dangerous behind the wheel.

“People who drive as part of their job should be taking great care to stay within the law and not put people in danger, but according to these results, at-work drivers are more likely to take many deadly risks than other drivers.

“We are urging all employers to ensure they have comprehensive safe driving policies in place and that staff know the importance of not speeding or driving distracted.

“We are also calling on anyone who drives for work to make a commitment to stay within speed limits, stay off the phone, and focused on the critical task at hand.”

For more information contact Franki Hackett on 01484 550063.


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“We are also calling on anyone who drives for work to make a commitment to stay within speed limits, stay off the phone, and focused on the critical task at hand.”

Wouldn’t it be more responsible for BRAKE to “call on anyone” driving anytime, anywhere, for any reason, to do the same? properly at all times – not just in a work connection? If you’re a poor driver at work, you will probably be a poor driver all the time and vice-versa - if you’re a diligent, safety-conscious driver outside of work, well you will be the same ‘at work’ as well.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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For those who haven't gone to the Brake website to see the full news item, I have copied this paragraph for clarity:

“Brake and Direct Line conducted two surveys, one of 532 at-work drivers into distractions while driving, and one of 703 at-work drivers into speed. The survey was carried out by Brake volunteers, at locations across the UK. Every effort was made to ensure a wide variety of people responded. Brake thanks all volunteers who helped conduct the survey and collate the results.

For other survey results published by Brake and Direct Line in their series of reports on safe driving see"

Brake also make reference to a number of existing national data sets in connection with this press release. The item appears to be a combination of the surveys carried out by Brake and reference to other statistical sources. I haven't read the full report to see whether or not it includes rates of collisions or casualties by distance driven - the rate of collisions per Million Vehicle Kms. Perhaps someone else out there has a little spare time in which to do so?
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

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I agree in principle with the comments, however there is one very important point which needs to be made. Irrespective of the numbers and percentages, if work based drivers are guilty of texting, grooming etc and are involved in collisions whereby fatal injuries are caused, then the Company could be liable, or indeed individual Directors personnally liable, under Corporate Manslaughter legislation - unless the Company has robust driver training, assessment and checking procedures in place. We can argue about stats but the bottom line, as always, comes back to education.
Terry Beale Somerset Road Safety

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Whilst I tend to agree with the comments on the data, I feel that to make such comment is to ignore the elephant in the room: standards of driving at work are miserable, and getting no better. I all too often experience aggression from the drivers of marked business vehicles, and witness many of them using phones. Companies may have driving policies, but they are not always implemented.

I did see some research at the weekend that suggested that 16% of younger drivers admitted texting while at the wheel, so that may give us some context in which to view Brake's statement.
David, Suffolk

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I agree with the other comments - as too often happens, selective use of data, lacking proper comparisons - in this case for example how much greater mileages business drivers cover. Same sloppy analysis often applies to groups such as young/old, male/female comparisons of risk, accidents and insurannce.
Idris Francis Petersfield

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Keith - I apologise if our edit was misleading.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

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I know the research.
It was a point about the way it was written, suggesting that Brake "estimates" through their own research as opposed to quoting the published research.

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Brake references the DfT's National Travel Survey 2010 for this statistic - here's the link to the survey:
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

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Is the following taken from the above report actually based on research reports from Brake or possibly figures that have been in the public domain for at 20 years:

"and the charity estimates that these drivers are 30-40% more likely to be involved in a crash than people driving in their own time".

If it is from more recent research from Brake could you post the link so this recent research can be read.

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Spot on David. It's also important to know the mileages covered. Saying 30/40% more likely to be involved in a crash is meaningless if we don't know that. If they drive twice as far, then their accident rate is less, not more, than a "non-working" driver.
Kevin Willams, Survival Skills Rider Training

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And what percentage of drivers who do not drive for work participate in these activities? This study is only valid when viewed in this context.
David Clark

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