An essential part of working that should be prioritised constantly is one’s safety. In 2020, it was reported that 41% of workplace fatalities were caused by vehicle collisions, making it the leading cause of workplace fatalities.1 Therefore, it is very important to be able to give all co-workers, employers, families, and friends of employees more peace of mind when one is going to work.
The consequences of not ensuring you are safe on the road include incidents that can result in injuries, that may take you out of work and that can impact your income. On top of dealing with recovery from injury, that can create a mental toll, especially if you develop a long-term injury, no matter how minor. That can also affect your job performance in your profession, so there is often a butterfly effect that occurs from unsafe driving.2
Why is employee road safety important?
When considering the purpose as to why employee road safety is important, the first reason is simply you’re reducing an alarming statistic and you’re doing your part in making the roads a safer place. According to the National Road Safety Partnership Program, Australian research has found that road crashes are the most common cause of work-related fatalities, injuries and absences from work. 3
Occupational driving poses unique risks for employers, as driving is one of the highest-risk activities an employer requires their employees to undertake. When an employee is not on a worksite, the types of drivers and vehicles sharing the road with employees are not under the control of the employer.
Another advantage is the financial cost, by diminishing the number of road-related incidents impacting an employee, the insurance money a company may be spending on recovering from these incidents may be able to be placed towards other financial resources that further benefit the employees and work environment. Given that the annual cost for work-related road crashes is approximately $1.5 billion, by implementing safe driving techniques this number has the potential to be reduced. 4
Top road safety tips for employees
1. Partake in a safe workplace driving program
One way to ensure your employees are confident in their driving skills, is to undergo a safe workplace driving program. Research shows that a simple refresher course is extremely impact for any driver, regardless of their driving history and record.
Many workplaces can benefit well from completing a classroom-based safer driving education program, as they only take a few hours to up to a day to complete, they are an excellent way to remind employees how to be cautious on the roads and provide safety tips as well. For more information about where to find a program like this, Road Sense Australia offer a Drive It Home program for workplace drivers.
These programs are not only beneficial to an employer as they are likely to reduce driving incidents in the workplace but can also help an employee’s professional career as an achievement they can add to their resume. Additionally, it is also an incentive to retain employees as it shows their employer cares about wellbeing and driver knowledge.
2. Prevent external distractions when driving
Research from Talent Smart EQ shows that multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. 5, 6, 7 This is important to consider especially while on the clock, and even more so when driving, since the list of work tasks may stack up in your head, taking away some attention from focusing on the road.
In addition to this, as people become very used to driving in their daily lives, they don’t feel the need to eliminate all possible distractions when on the road. A simple yet extremely effective way to avoid this and aim for safer driving is to implement strategies that allow the driver to avoid any distractions when on the road. This could look like removing and avoiding extra distractions while driving, for instance:
- Ensuring the map location is already loaded onto your GPS/phone before turning on the car.
- Either listening to the radio/music on a quiet volume or on a station/playlist you won’t be tempted to change.
- Eliminate your phone distraction entirely by placing your phone in your glove compartment and not answering any phone notification you may receive until you are parked safely, and the car is turned off.
3. Follow a rest schedule on the road
A factor that often may be overlooked and forgotten about when travelling on the road, fatigue can majorly impact you when you are driving. In fact, fatigue is currently one of NSW’s biggest killers on the road. A simple way to reduce the risk of a fatigue-related crash is to implement and follow a rest schedule when undergoing long-distance driving on the road. When managing fatigue concerns in the workplace, there is currently no OH&S legislation for employees who drive regular vehicles, although, there is indeed legislation in place for employees who drive heavy vehicles. More information about the laws in place can be found on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website: Fatigue management | NHVR
Furthermore, it can be difficult to figure out the longest period someone can drive on the road without rest. Depending on factors such as whether you’re driving during the daylight or nighttime, can also affect the recommended drive and rest periods. Advice from the NSW Government suggests avoiding driving at night as it is the time your body naturally wants to sleep. This is cemented by the fact that the risk of having a fatal fatigue-related crash is four times greater late at night and early in the morning. 8
When heading on a long journey as an employee, listen to your body and rest when you feel signs of fatigue. Some actions you could take that could help you feel better rested when long-haul driving include taking regular rest breaks, for instance at rest stops or service stations, or taking a 20-minute power nap if you feel tired, before continuing on with your drive. 9
Remember, a 4-second microsleep at 100km/h means you’ll drive more than 110m with your eyes off the road. You can’t be over-rested, but you can be tired.
10 More Quick Tips
As a helpful reminder, here is a list of quick tips employees can use to remain safe on the road:
- Remember to keep the three-second gap between you and the car in front of you.
- Ensure you are aware of many medications/prescription drugs that may cause drowsiness.
- Always wear your seatbelt, no matter how short the trip.
- Scan the road and anticipate anyone changing lanes.
- Be aware of your vehicle size and the power you have over it.
- Plan any changes you are making ahead of time.
- Remember you are sharing a road with all kinds of people, be patient and considerate.
- Listen to music/radio at a moderate level.
- Too many head checks don’t exist, always be aware of your surroundings.
- Check mirrors are adjusted accordingly; they are there for a reason.
Organise a workplace driver course with Road Sense Australia
Staying alert and refreshing yourself or your employees on safe driving techniques is a guaranteed way to ensure you’re doing your part to try to reduce the statistics when it comes to workplace-related vehicle matters.
Road Sense Australia have many sources to help those seeking to improve their knowledge of driver safety. The best way to increase safety driving strategies for employees would be through our Drive It Home (DIH) program a 3-hour interactive learning experience designed for workplace drivers. The program consists of six modules that have been developed to enable participants to gain a clear understanding of how to stay safe on the road and how to develop safe and measured practices to reduce the risk of road crashes and traffic offences.
Read more about how DIH can help you increase your safe driving strategies or check out some reviews of the program HERE.