Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of worker fatality in the United States. In any given year, more workers are killed as a result of a vehicle crash than due to any other incident type. In addition to the risk of personal injury or fatality, vehicle crashes that involve business drivers typically result in property damage, lost productivity and/or lost revenue, and increased liability exposure for the employer. Yet, each day business drivers take to the road with attitudes and ingrained behaviors that may hinder their safety behind the wheel. By understanding those attitudes and behaviors, organizations can take the necessary steps to reduce their employees' odds of a vehicle crash and avoid the resulting consequences. This paper will include "confessions of a business driver" taken from the direct experience of one of the authors, who previously served as an outside sales representative spending much of the workday on the road.
Statistics from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal the high incidence and severity of vehicle crashes. According to NHTSA, 6.15 million crashes occurred in the U.S. in 2006, involving 12 million drivers and causing 2.7 million injuries. Last year, 43,443 fatalities occurred on U.S. roads, which equates to an average of 119 per day. The average driver has a 1 in 15 chance of being involved in a collision and a 1 in 65 chance of being involved in a fatal crash in his or her lifetime.
These statistics reflect the experience of the average driver. However, the average driver travels 12,000 - 15,000 miles annually, while many fleet drivers travel 20,000 - 25,000 miles or more each year. As a result, their exposure to crash risks is far greater than the general public's exposure. In turn, it's not difficult to see why business driver crashes are the leading cause of lost productivity and death for the American worker, with a business driver three times more likely to be killed in a vehicle crash than while working in a factory setting.
Understanding the behaviors and attitudes of typical business drivers and what they face in their travels can help safety directors to understand the risks their employee drivers encounter and help protect those drivers by reducing their crash incidence.
A look at what business drivers may face in their travels must include a review of the most common types of collisions for employee drivers. These include:
Parking and backing collisions