Whether you drive a car or a truck for a living or simply spend an hour on the road each day getting to and from work as a commuter, you probably assume your safety is up to you. After all, if you are injured in a car accident, it will only affect you and your family—right? Wrong. According to a recent study conducted by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), motor vehicle crashes on and off the job cost employers $47.4 billion in 2013. It makes sense, then, that employers should take a more active role in the driving safety of their workers, even if they don’t drive for a living.
Breaking Down the Costs of Car Crashes
As employers are the provider of health insurance and life insurance coverage for many workers, much of the cost of off-the-job crashes can be attributed to use of benefits. In 2013, 25 percent of the total cost to employers of traffic accidents came from off-the-job crashes, while the remaining 75 percent came from on-the-job motor vehicle accidents. Costs to employers include the following:
- Property damage
- Workplace disruption
- Sick leave
- Health insurance
- Insurance covering work losses
- Wage replacement
The leading causes of motor vehicle crashes costing employers billions of dollars were speeding ($8.4 billion), followed by distracted driving ($8.2 billion), impaired driving ($6 billion), and not wearing a seat belt ($4.9 billion). NETS and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) believe that employers should do more to promote traffic safety among their employees, not only for the good of their workers, but for the good of their bottom line.
What Employers Can Do to Promote Traffic Safety
Many companies employ drivers, give employees company cars, or expect some amount of driving as part of an employee’s job duties. It seems obvious that these companies should have an employee driving safety program in place. But even companies that don’t ask employees to drive in their job descriptions would benefit from promoting safe driving practices among their workers, as the financial loss numbers demonstrate. OSHA gives the following reasons for all employers to implement a driver safety program:
- To save lives and to reduce the risk of life-altering injuries within your workforce.
- To protect your organization's human and financial resources.
- To guard against potential company and personal liabilities associated with crashes involving employees driving on company business.
OSHA recommends that companies develop a driver safety plan, such as the following ten-step program developed by NETS:
- Step 1: Senior Management Commitment and Employee Involvement. Actively encouraging employee participation and involvement at all levels of the organization is a good practice and will help the effort to succeed.
- Step 2: Written Policies and Procedures. A written statement emphasizing the commitment to reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries is essential to a successful program. Creating alcohol-use and seatbelt-use policies are an important part of this step.
- Step 3: Driver Agreements. Establish a contract with all employees who drive for work purposes, whether they drive assigned company vehicles or drive their personal vehicles.
- Step 4: Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Checks. Check the driving records of all employees who drive for work purposes.
- Step 5: Crash Reporting and Investigation. Establish and enforce a crash reporting and investigation process.
- Step 6: Vehicle Selection, Maintenance, and Inspection. Selecting, properly maintaining and routinely inspecting company vehicles is an important part of preventing crashes and related losses.
- Step 7: Disciplinary Action System. Develop a strategy to determine the course of action after the occurrence of a moving violation and/or "preventable" crash.
- Step 8: Reward/Incentive Program. Develop and implement a driver reward/incentive program to make safe driving an integral part of your business culture.
- Step 9: Driver Training and Communication. Provide continuous driver safety training and communication.
- Step 10: Regulatory Compliance. Ensure adherence to highway safety regulations. It is important to clearly establish which, if any, local, state, and/or federal regulations govern your vehicles and/or drivers.
When an Employer Doesn’t Keep You Safe, You Could Be Entitled to Compensation
Whether you work as a driver and are injured on the job, were involved in a car accident on your employer’s property, or were injured while running an errand for your boss, you could be entitled to compensation from your employer as well as the at-fault driver’s insurance company. These cases can be complicated. Call the experienced car accident attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys to find out more about your case.