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TRL raises doubts over accident-related training

Date: 22 September 2011   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Many firms who spent substantial sums of money to reduce the involvement of employees in road accidents may be "stabbing in the dark" with unproven strategies, according to a leading road safety research investigation.

With one-third of company vehicle drivers involved in an accident each year, the Transport Research Laboratory's report, commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, found there was "little confirmation" on whether initiatives reducing accidents were working.

IOSH has also called for work-related driving accidents to be included in the statutory reporting under the RIDDOR injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences regulations.

This "disappointing" lack of tangible evidence to show that action is working and by how much was highlighted by TRL's principal road safety researcher Shaun Helman, who said: "Some companies are achieving results, but we want to encourage take a long, hard evaluative look at whether what they are doing is simply ticking boxes or actually yielding results."

"We need well-controlled evaluation to show us what works, by how much and why." On a positive note, TRL research showed that in-car data recorders, safer driving incentives, and training that provides insight into driver limitations rather than vehicle control skills, plus group discussions all "showed promise".

IOSH's food and drink chair Neil Catton said statistics for work-related road accidents showed that the "golden formula that leaves company drivers better equipped to deal with driving risks has not been hit on".

He said the statutory recording of accidents could help determine the best ways of dealing with the high incidence. Distraction, fatigue and time pressure were listed as factors in work-related accidents, particularly where drivers are required to meet appointment deadlines, or have to drive long distances during one day.

Solutions recommended by Catton include driving less, using public transport, pairing up with colleagues or staying overnight in hotels to break up journeys. He also pinpointed growing van usage, which is not as regulated as HGVs, and claimed "this means drivers and employers aren't always held as strictly to account on driving behaviour". Catton argued this trend could have an impact on work-related road risk and needed further study.

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