Road Safety News

Brake Ďdesperately worriedí by survey findings

Wednesday 14th May 2014

Less than half of employers (44%) would dismiss an employee for driving over the legal alcohol limit, and 55% never test employees for alcohol, according to a survey by Brake.

Brake has described the survey of 228 employers as “desperately worrying” and is urging employers to implement “zero-tolerance policies on at-work drink- and drug-driving”.

Other findings in the survey include: 57% of respondents said they never test employees for drugs; 62% said they take disciplinary action against employees found to have any amount of alcohol or illegal drugs in their system at work, while only 30% said they dismiss employees for this; and 47% said they educate drivers on the risks of drug-driving (50% for drink-driving).

The survey also found that many employers don't have practices in place to manage other driver fitness issues such as tiredness, stress and poor eyesight.

Laura Woods from Brake said: "It is desperately worrying that so many employers are lacking the tough approach needed to tackle drink and drug driving at work.

“This is highly dangerous, selfish risk-taking that should be treated as gross misconduct. People who drive for work should be clear that there is no safe amount to drink before driving.

“We're appealing to all employers with staff who drive for work to ensure their drivers know the risks, know the rules, and know that breaking the rules will not be tolerated."


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

The effect that dopamine has on the accident rate is due to its function during the learning process. Prediction error theory says that what is important is the discrepancy between a reward and its prediction. An unpredicted reward gives us the best dopamine hit, a fully predicted reward has a neutral dopamine response and a lack of reward when one was predicted gives us a dopamine depression. For the average dopamine junkie then the best way to guarantee a hit is to seek out situations in which an unpredicted reward is most likely to occur and avoid those situations that would lead to a depression.

This is the essence of how we learn by making mistakes. If we expect to get a task right and make a mistake which makes the task go wrong, then we will experience a dopamine depression. If, however, we expect to get a task wrong, but because we have unknowingly done something slightly different it actually goes right then we will experience a dopamine hit.

Because accidents are directly linked to mistakes, and mistakes are directly linked to learning, and learning is directly linked to dopamine, the connection between dopamine and accidents becomes clear.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

Hello Duncan:
I didnít know that neurotransmitters such as dopamine have a far more profound effect on the accident rate than any amount of booze. Excuse my ignorance, but I have not heard of any accidents caused directly by dopamine. I would be very interested in reading any research data you can point me to relating to your accident rate statement.

Iím not a doctor, but I can only find data that confirms that alcohol and all addictive substances impact dopamine directly or indirectly. Obviously people on legal medication such as for Parkinsonís can have increased amounts of dopamine but Iím not sure how many Parkinsonís sufferers have been involved in accidents. However, I do know, and it is well evidenced, that alcohol and drugs of abuse interfere with normal neurological pathways that are responsible for transmitting signals in the brain, particularly the pathway that involves the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Charles Dunn

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

By far the most important 'drugs' are not the chemicals we create in the brewery or the lab, but the ones we create internally. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine have a far more profound effect on the accident rate than any amount of booze.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

I agree with Eric and Charles, particulary in the context no one has mentioned, the size of the firm - noting that small firms employ something like half those in work.

Having run my own small firm for 30 years, I had more than enough to cope with when designing, manufacturing and selling products in a competitive market without having policies for everything under the sun that some group or other - or increasingly the EU - thought I ought to have. Remember too that in small firms in particular firing someone, perhaps a key member of staff, has very serious effects not only on him and his family, but on the firm and employer too. Including the possibity of all concerned losing their jobs.

Dare I suggest that while safe driving should be encouraged, severe penalties for transgression should be left to the proper authorites, the courts?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

We can all take issue or otherwise re the problem of drink and drugs for those who drive for a living or who drive occasionally whilst at work. Another worrying issue here is that apparently many employers don't have a policy when it comes to other serious issues either.

In a day and age of increased risk assessments that are apparently required in every aspect of things that we do, it's unbelievable that these matters are not already catered for.
bob cravenLancs

Agree (4) | Disagree (4)

The report above clearly says "62% said they take disciplinary action against employees found to have any amount of alcohol .... in their system at work, while only 30% said they dismiss employees for this".
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)

Don't think it refers to having ANY amount of alcohol in their blood, I understand it to be 'zero tolerance' for being over the prescribed level.

Agree (1) | Disagree (3)

Iím not here to defend Brake, and I'm not advocating sacking people for making a mistake, but if a company has a clear zero tolerance policy in place and the driver is well aware of the policy which forms part of their contract of employment, then I cannot see why you and Eric believe this to be draconian.

No one forces a driver to drink or drug drive, it is their choice, it may be ill advised but it is not a mistake. When driving under the influence they not only put innocent road users in jeopardy, they put their fellow workers in peril and their employers at risk of breaching Corporate Manslaughter rules.

Having such a policy in place could actually help individuals make sensible choices. A penny for every time a police officer has heard offenders say that if I had only known the consequences, I would not have driven.
Charles Dunn

Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

I agree with Eric here whilst at the same time in no way condoning drink and drug driving. My recollection is that you can only dismiss someone if they are no able to do their job - so therefore if they are a driver and lose their licence then they cannot do the job, otherwise unless it is expressly written into the terms and conditions of employment I think business might find themselves in a tribunal if they took such draconian action. It is a great pity at times for all the good work that BRAKE do, they cannot get off this obsession with hanging everyone who makes a mistake or commits an offence. I presume this means that they do not support rehabilitation?
Graham Feest Secretary AIRSO

Agree (9) | Disagree (8)

With respect, I think you have got it wrong with regard to alcohol and you are in danger of appearing to be what you accused Brake of.

Because alcohol is legal and because most of us through age choose to drink alcohol in moderation, our generation has a tendency to view alcohol as drug free or in some way is less harmful than illegal drugs; but alcohol is the archetypal drug, the drug most widely used and the drug that causes the most addiction and is widely attributed to many deaths and injuries on our roads.

I donít believe it is draconian to have a policy that states that it is never acceptable to drive under the influence of any drug no matter how minute it is in your system. Like Brake, I believe that it is emminently sensible for employers to have a zero tolerance policy towards drink drug driving alongside driver education and practices to manage other related driver fitness concerns.
Charles Dunn

Agree (13) | Disagree (8)

More pious output from Brake.

Do their comments all relate to jobs involving driving? It's not clear.

No argument with illegal drugs, but "employers who dismiss employees for having ANY amount of alcohol in their system"? This seems draconian, to say the least.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (9) | Disagree (11)