Road Safety News

Action needed to make occupational road risk a priority

Tuesday 1st July 2014

A new report has concluded that road deaths and serious injuries involving at-work drivers and riders is “one of the most serious road safety issues”.

The Strategic Review of the Management of Occupational Road Risk, commissioned by RoSPA and carried out by TRL and the Centre for Transport Studies at University College London, assesses progress made in helping employers to manage the risks their staff face when they use the road for work purposes.

Figures in the review show that since 2006, 4,726 people have been killed and more than 40,000 seriously injured in collisions involving an at-work driver or rider (not including commuting); almost 30% of road deaths and more than 22% of serious casualties occur in collisions involving at least one at-work driver or rider.

The review suggests that more needs to be done to ensure work-related road safety is given the same attention as general health and safety. It also says that more should be done to evaluate the effectiveness of different approaches to the management of occupational road risk (MORR), and calls for more work into the effectiveness of in-car data recorders and monitoring technologies.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “As the latest figures show, up to a third of road accidents involve someone who is using the road for work purposes.

“This review further emphasises the need for the awareness of MORR to be raised and given the priority it deserves.

“RoSPA will lead a MORR stakeholder forum in the autumn to help develop an action plan. We will also be developing guidance for employers to help them evaluate the measures they have to manage their occupational road risks.”

Dr Shaun Helman, TRL’s head of transport psychology, said: “Although some businesses are switched on to the issue, most of the time injuries sustained on the road are not afforded the same priority as injuries sustained on work premises and sites.

“This needs to change, and the recommendations in this report provide a starting point.”


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Would it be considered quite possible that due to the increase in the 20 is plenty speed limits that local authorities are adopting, that some drivers will have greater strains placed upon them by that lower speed or at least feel that they have, and be forced due to their delivery commitments to break the law in order to fulfil their obligations.
Bob Craven Lancs

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Duncan makes some good points regarding HGV & delivery drivers. My fear is that in future such drivers will take more chances by excessive speeding in the light of the decimation of roads policing units throughout the country due to financial cutbacks.
They know where most fixed camera locations are and may be tempted to make up for lost time where there aren't any.
Jeff Taylor, Cumbria

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

It is also important to recognise that in many business and financial centres then many of the pedestrians are also "at work" and walking between meetings.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

Explaining human factors and their role in accident causation is too often considered to be 'explaining away', which leads to them being viewed as a get out of jail free card. This view is one that was common in many industries in the past and was responsible for holding back safety progress for a great many years.

Understanding the stresses placed on an individual who is trying to manage conflicting goals helps us to reach down to the very root causes of accidents and incidents so that we can learn from them. It's no good saying what a driver late for a delivery should or shouldn't do unless you know the circumstances surrounding him at the time. If his company happily accepts the fact that a parcel was late because the driver felt that it was unsafe to make the deadline then all well and good. I do suspect however that even the most safety conscious company might get a bit stroppy if that same driver failed to make 20% of his drops for the same reason. If that company guaranteed a parcel would be delivered before nine in the morning then it is unlikeley that they would be looking kindly on that driver and his future employment prospects.

I couldn't be happier that the profile of occupational road risk is being raised so long as the methods used to solve the problems are of proven effectiveness.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

Duncan's point demonstrates perfectly how organisational 'safety culture' has a huge influence. In the examples he describes, the safety of the employees and other members of the public are a high priority for the Police while for the haulier they are not.

Addressing occupational road risk is as much about changing the safety culture of organisations relating to (all modes of) travel as it is about offering training to individual staff.

Many elements of the system are outside the control of both employers and employees, but there are a lot of factors that are well within their control and should be managed appropriately for their own benefit as well as the benefit to wider road safety.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

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I cannot agree with you Duncan. Are you giving a get out of jail card to commercial drivers just because they may suffer greater inconvenience than other road users?

To my mind there can be no conflict. Industry has to comply with all sorts of rules and regulations and that includes road usage. It's like saying farmers can get away with anything because they produce food and HGV drivers should get special treatment otherwise we will not get our goods. There are also others who believe themselves above the law as they consider themselves better, faster and safer drivers. Should they also be given a get out of jail card?
bo craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

In answer to Dave's question, a quick look through the DfT's National Travel Survey estimates that 3% of all trips undertaken in GB in 2012 were for "business", and these trips accounted for 9% of the total number of miles travelled (although this also includes trips by rail so the actual percentage may be slightly different).
Peter Slater, North East Regional Road Safety Resource

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The joys of conflicting goals. Get the parcel there on time or face the sack. Take the phone call or miss the business. In a system where safety cannot be a priority, managing conflicting goals is never going to be easy.

The Police will think long and hard before starting a pursuit as they will still get paid even if the miscreant gets away. A truck driver cannot make that choice because nobody's going to pay him if he misses the ferry.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

I've never been convinced of the need to identify whether someone was 'at work' when they had an accident, or just driving for pleasure - or whether people drive differently depending on their destination/purpose. Any accidents did not necessarily occur because they were at work - more a case of they happened to be at work. The only benefit in identifying this, is that as employees they may receive some driver training they may otherwise not benefit from.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (11)

What % of total mileage is driven by at-work drivers?
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

Historically HSE has seen the roads as a Home Office (police) or DfT issue. It seems no matter where it lies the resources are very much stretched given the size of the population at risk. The HSE does have an advice leaflet but this seems weak in comparison to the scale of the risk problem.
pete, liverpool

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I have often mentioned that riding a motorcycle and having something else on one's mind is a recipe for disaster. That could just be getting home in time to watch the football on TV.

With commercial drivers, both long haul and local deliveries, you have people who have pressures of work and all sorts of things going on perhaps trying to keep to a schedule and perhaps running late. Lots of responsibility to get the job done or becoming overtired and losing concentration due to that pressure.
bob craven Lancs

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I don't understand why HSE doesn't raise the profile of driving at work - after all for most people it's the most dangerous thing they do.
Martin - Verodrive

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)