Companies have been urged by the Institute of Car Fleet Management (ICFM) to create a culture in which employees take responsibility for their actions and can make the decision not to drive if they don’t feel safe.

However, the ICFM said there must be board-level buy-in to deliver improved safety standards at work, but too often business operations fail to take into account the risks that driving for work can bring.

Speaking at the association’s latest ‘masterclass’ event, Kathy Halliday, a partner at law firm Veale Wasbrough Vizards, said that company bosses would be “foolish” to not carefully manage employees making business-related journeys as the repercussions could be very serious.

“Managing occupational road risk is a key management responsibility and it should be elevated to board level,” she said.

According to Andy Phillips, director of risk management at Applied Driving Techniques, part of the problem is that people don’t tend to champion road safety within the corporate environment and that businesses often operate in ways that encourage unsafe driving – particularly in a sales team, which awards bonuses depending on the amount of revenue created.

“In a sales environment part of employees’ bonus should be based on the safety of the driver and the team,” he said. “It is all about attitude and developing a safety culture.”

The ICFM claims that part of the issue is that too few employers treat vehicles as an “extension of the workplace”.

“Vehicles are part and parcel of the workplace and in terms of health and safety should be treated in exactly the same way,” said ICFM director Peter Eldridge. “Driver behaviour is getting worse, but their actions are disguised due to the performance of safety-related technology on vehicles. As a result, drivers are taking less responsibility for their actions, but the law is moving in the opposite direction.”

He added: “Many businesses do not recognise what they are risking by not effectively managing drivers, and many directors do not understand the law and the impact it can have on a business, directors and employees generally in the event of a crash involving an at-work driver.”