Drive For Work

Recently I attended a Drive for Work (DFW) seminar hosted by the Road Safety Authority (RSA)

Whether you drive for work in your own vehicle or your employers vehicle it is your employers responsibility to ensure you know what to do should your vehicle breakdown, catch fire etc. There should be procedures and policies in place so that you know what to do to ensure you are safe at all times.  Incidents occur because of poor management or human error. There are three elements where the employer is responsible;

Vehicle + Driver + Journey

The vehicle must be fit for purpose, serviced regularly with maintenance schedule and policies in place. The driver should be competent, mature attitude towards driving with correct driving licence for vehicle they are driving. The journey should have realistic schedules and times allowing enough time for journey to made with the potential for adverse weather conditions.

Human behaviour such a smoking, eating or grooming (applying lipstick or shaving) whilst driving can cause distraction. External causes are considered scenery or getting directions. Mental or physical fatigue, alcohol and drugs & medication. A driver driving inappropriately for weather conditions has potential for incidents that could otherwise be avoided.

Managing DFW saves lives & money. Under the Safety, Health & Welfare Act of 2005 a vehicle is defined as a workplace. DFW activities require the same protection as employees in an office.  Incidents cause a loss in productivity, reputation and profit.

According to Michael Brosnan, Research Manager for the RSA on the world league table 1959-2009 the trend is the same the world over an increase in fatalities coincided with an increase in vehicles followed by a fatality decrease. RSA Strategy 2007 – 2012 was established to improve road safety in Ireland. Ireland is now the seventh safest country in the EU. We have fallen from sixth place last year. Every 54 persons per million are killed on Irish roads and for each death a monetary cost of €2.8 million.

Very often drivers suffer with optimistic bias – they don’t realise a risk and they think they are invincible. Speeding to make up time is a speed fallacy, even if you make up the time be speeding you will be 5 minutes earlier to sit in traffic. Ireland is bottom of the league table for speed enforcement.

The faster the speed the messier, the severity and frequency of any given incident.   Any level of impairment affects driving and the 11 skills required to drive.  At 0.1 level 10 of those skill are affected with the exception of one, blinking.  The numbers say that one third of all accidents are alcohol related.  Drugs whether illicit, over the counter of prescribed may have an affect on the drivers ability to drive safely.  Unnecessary distractions such as the mobile phone even if it is hands free affects the ability to drive safely and reduces it by third.  The key message is pullover if you have to make or take a call.  Only 90% of all drivers wear seatbelts nowadays a great improvement over the years but the remaining 10% have still to be educated of the dangers of not wearing a belt.

According to Deirdre Sinnott HSA – Senior Inspector, the employer needs to control managing DFW. Managing the risk is a top down approach as the company has a duty of care and this extends to the employees working on or near a road and not just the vehicle. Safety induction on manual handling, slips, trips and falls is a must. There should be a clear set of rules on DFW and safety should always be on the agenda. There is a wealth of resources and information for employers at their finger tips at www.rsa.ie and www.hsa.ie

Policies and procedures should include a vehicle checklist and associated procedures for collisions and incident recording forms, while DFW checklist will include risk assessment. A vehicle management procedure will cover fit for purpose, preventative maintenance, routine checks and incident reporting system.  Managing specific risks must cover being a safe driver (which is the weakest link) and competence.  Driver management should include the authorisation to drive particular vehicles.  Formalised inductions and regular eyesight checks for drivers and in addition a supervisor should be appointed to manage drivers.

Any journey should be tracked and the locations of each driver and their vehicle should be recorded. What should be taken into consideration these days is if journeys are actually necessary at all? With car sharing/pooling an option and the advancement of technology and web conferencing physical meetings may not be necessary.

In 2002 Penalty Points introduced then in 2006 Garda Checkpoints came along. On 16/06/2010 there were 96 fatalities from the start of the year, twenty of those related to DFW. In 1985 there were 914,758 vehicles on our roads this figure has obviously increased in the last 15 years. At a collision scene the order of processes is to preserve life and then conduct an investigation. If your company is involved in an incident related to DFW, the company’s reputation may be at risk if the right procedures and policies are not in place. Road Traffic Acts 1961-2006 expects that any vehicle defect should be known to the owner.  The owner should know exactly who was driving what vehicle and when.