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DRIVING FOR WORK: BRAKE CALLS FOR ACTION

Research finds ‘at work drivers’ are taking excessive risks

Significant numbers of people who drive for work are putting lives at risk by texting, speeding and grooming at the wheel, according to research by Brake and Direct Line released on 4 January 2013. The headline findings are that:

  • 31% at work drivers report texting whilst driving;
  • 17% undertake ‘grooming’ or shaving at the wheel; and
  • 76% speed at more than 35mph in built up areas.

The survey revealed that people driving for business purposes are more likely than the general driving population to act in this way.  

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.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said:

“It is appalling so many people who drive in a professional capacity are taking such horrendous and 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. 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.”

Brake stress that employers must minimise risks arising from driving on company time including commercial vehicles, company cars, own car driven to work appointments etc. and points out that organisations who manage road risk effectively often see big reductions in insurance costs and benefits to staff morale.

The Brake Fleet Safety Forum provides guidance, support and case studies to help companies ensure the safety of their vehicles and drivers.

Recommendations for government action

Brake is calling on the government to:

  • Policy – encourage companies to implement a safe driving policy which includes: commitment to plan all journeys carefully, including the need to make the journey in the first place; ban on distractions while driving; and careful monitoring of driver welfare;
  • Engagement – fund work to engage and advise employers on managing road risk, such as that conducted through Brake’s Fleet Safety Forum;
  • Reporting – require all companies to report, record and analyse crashes, including near-misses, in order to manage their road risk effectively. RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) should cover at-work drivers as well as on-site employees;
  • HSE Investigation – investigate all fatal and serious injury crashes involving someone driving for work through HSE;
  • Publicity – step up publicity campaigns to warn at-work drivers and fleet managers of specific risks associated with at-work driving and provide advice on how to manage and cut crashes;
  • Enforcement – increase numbers of traffic police and front-line enforcement staff working for the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA), to enable adequate levels of enforcement checks on drivers and vehicles;
  • Penalties – introduce tougher penalties against any company flouting maintenance, driver hours or licensing rules, or putting pressure on its drivers to break the law and drive dangerously.

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