Total Business Magazine

Driving for Work: Is an Employee’s Driving Your Responsibility?

It's estimated that one third of all road collisions involve someone who is driving for work; a figure that underlines the huge responsibility employers have to ensure their employees are safe each and every time they get behind the wheel at work.

According to Simon Turner, Campaign Manager at Driving For Better Business, a culture shift is needed to keep employees safe when driving for work.

Road safety and the pressures of work

We can all empathise with the difficulty of concentrating at work given the array of distractions seeking our attention. However, distractions caused when driving for work are critical for the safety risk they pose to those who drive and other road users.

From the conversations I have had with executive directors, it has become clear that many companies are taking a casual attitude to managing those who ride and drive for work and, often unwittingly, putting their employees at risk.

Unsafe company practices putting employee safety at risk

To provide further empirical evidence of the need to shift company attitudes towards employees who ride and drive for work, we commissioned a survey, conducted by Censuswide, of executive directors and employees.

Our survey of over 1,000 employees and 250 executive directors from across the UK found that there was a distinct divide between what executive directors thought was a safe working environment, and what employees say from out on the road.

Nowhere was this divide starker than in the 75% of executive directors who thought that employees were aware of their legal obligations when driving for work, versus nearly half of employees who were largely clueless that a driving for work policy existed – these employees drive their personal car for work demonstrating a ‘Grey Fleet’ compliance issue.

Sadly, not only are many of these drivers unsupported by official company policy, around a third of them weren’t even insured to use their personal car for work purposes. Indeed just one in three said their employer had checked their driving license.

Things scarcely improved when respondents were asked about employer expectations when they were driving, with nearly a half revealing that their boss expects them to answer the phone at any time, even while driving. This not only contravened safe driving advice, but they also lead to around half of employees experiencing stress due to the pressure they are placed under to be on call around the clock.

Resetting expectations and implementing a robust driving for work policy

Expectations are placing pressure on employees to adopt unsafe practices, whether it’s taking calls on the move, using the hard shoulder to use their phone – 1 in 20 executive directors thought this was a safe thing to do despite it being illegal – and generally taking a haphazard approach to vehicle maintenance.

Such a disparity between what board-level executives think is happening and what employees experience is not uncommon, but seldom do these disparities have such severe consequences as when businesses send employees onto the roads. The report clearly shows that not only do employers need to have a better driving for work policy, but they need to do a much better job of communicating it to all employees.

Management must ensure that employees who ride and drive for work are aware of their legal and ethical obligations. A driving for work policy provides workers with a framework to keep them safe at all times.

Business benefits of a driving for work policy

Many businesses also find that improving how they manage their drivers and vehicles correlates with an increase in business efficiency, a reduction in business risk and significant improvements in business profitability.

Our ‘Business Champions’ are organisations that have exceeded the basic requirements of the Driving for Better Business programme, experiencing significant operational, financial and employee benefits.

For example, McLaren has seen a large reduction in insurance claims, with claims against the fleet policy reducing by 50% over a 3 year period, Data management firm Iron Mountain reduced their vehicle maintenance costs by over 30%, construction giant Amey improved vehicle utilisation by 30% while leasing company Arval reduced their damage repair costs from £150,000 per year to just £25,000 per year.

Companies that manage driver safety well usually do it because it is the right thing to do but it also happens to be very good business.

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