Roddy Graham's blog: Friday 16 November 2012 - Rising tide of road deaths
16 November 2012
Roddy Graham is commercial director of Leasedrive Group and Chairman of the ICFM
Regrettably, road deaths last year rose by three%, the first increase in almost a decade. According to police figures, 1901 died on UK roads in 2011 compared to 1850 in 2009. Car drivers and passengers accounted for 46% of deaths, up 6%. More worryingly still, 24% were pedestrians. These deaths saw the sharpest rise, up 12%. Two wheeled riders fared slightly better, motorcyclist deaths accounting for 19% of the total, down 10%, and cyclists 5%, down 4%. As we all know, one death is one death too many and the fact that the figures have risen overall is definitely cause for concern as I have highlighted in the past.
From a fleet management perspective, the 'at work' deaths should be the one employers should focus on. These now account for over a quarter of overall road deaths. The figure of 559 'at work' deaths represents 29% of the total. At a time when everyone is looking out for the first successful prosecution under the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act involving an 'at work' driver, meeting duty of care responsibilities remains a top priority. The 29% figure should make top management sit up and take notice, despite serious injuries dropping from 5281 to 5197, accounting for 22% of the total.
At the end of the day, employers have an on-going duty of care responsibility to assess the risks of their 'at work' drivers when driving on company business, and do everything practicable to protect their employees and other road users.
It's no secret that the police are on the lookout for 'responsibility' when investigating accidents and will look at duty of care within organisations. Nine out of ten road accidents result from human error so those responsible for fleet need to determine if their risk management processes covering 'at work' drivers will stand up to police scrutiny.
One of the prime ways of enforcing a culture of safer driving is to change driver behaviour and attitude. It is important to raise awareness of the dangers drivers face behind the wheel, and to encourage safer driving as part of an organisation's duty of care responsibilities.
By changing behaviour, employers can influence the risk factors associated with driving. Influencing the way drivers actually drive through education, tips, training and awareness can not only reduce the accident risk but also deliver other savings in the form of reduced fuel consumption.
Highlighting drink-driving policies should not be neglected either, especially as the numbers of those killed or seriously injured rose by 5% to 1570. One of the biggest danger areas is the morning after, with one in five drivers caught over the legal drink-driving limit then.
Fleets need an unequivocal drink and drug-driving policy firmly embedded in their fleet policy and, more importantly, be prepared to enforce it with spot checks. If employers baulk at going so far then the statistic that between eight and 14 million working days a year are lost though drink and drugs identified by drug and alcohol road safety charity, DDE+ should warrant their attention.
So when you add that figure up to those days lost through road deaths and serious injuries it makes economic sense to invest in improving the road safety records of 'at work' drivers. After all, that over-used phrase, 'our people are our greatest asset' does actually ring true. And, lest we get all tied up in statistical analysis, we should not forget the 'human' cost.