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Assessing Work Related Driving Risks

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 22 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Assessing Work Related Driving Risks

People who drive for work are involved in more than 30% of road accidents. This works out as 20 deaths and 220 serious injuries per week. The most dangerous work-related activity in the UK is therefore driving. Bodies such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are concerned that employers should do more to manage the driving risks for employees.

HSE has made the point that health and safety law is as applicable to work-related driving as it is to any other work activity. As a result, the risks must be a vital part of managed heath and safety systems.

Study

A recent study shows that people who drive for work take higher risks than ordinary drivers. Broadly speaking, drivers of vans, lorries and company cars may travel fast, fail to give way, act carelessly and manoeuvre poorly. The study also asks why such drivers take higher risks. The main answers are pressure of time and unrealistic schedules. Company car drivers also tend to have faster vehicles.

Competence

Health and Safety law obliges employers to assess the driving competence of those employees who must use a vehicle for work. The fact that an employee has passed a driving test is not sufficient proof of competence. Employers must assess employees’ ability to do the sort of driving that a job demands. They must also establish which drivers are at the highest risk.

Such risk depends on driving skills, attitudes, and the type of driving. The latter may be long distance, urban or motorway.

Assessment Process

The risk assessment process starts with recruitment. If potential employees are likely to drive as part of their jobs, employers should look at driving experience, the number of accidents, and any motoring offences.

The assessment process should also be regular. Employers should conduct assessments of all drivers at agreed intervals. At the assessments, employers can consider any problems that may have arisen. Drivers can discuss their attitudes to driving and the possible need for a change in driving jobs.

Furthermore, an assessment should take place following an accident or a motoring offence conviction. The assessment should investigate whether the driver caused the accident. In the case of a motoring offence, the assessment must determine if the driver is likely to continue acting irresponsibly.

Finally, risk assessments should always occur when an employee returns to work after injury in any sort of accident, or illness. Whatever the cause of the accident or type of illness, an employer should confirm that the employee is still competent to drive. If there’s any doubt, the employer may wish to arrange for driver training or some form of support.

Assessment Types

There isn’t one model for driver assessment. Employers can choose the assessment process that suits their particular situations best.

At one end of the scale, employers may want all their drivers to have in-vehicle assessments. These can prove costly and can be a waste of time if most drivers are clearly competent. An alternative is to use cheaper methods that can identify those staff that need a more comprehensive assessment – or possibly even training. Among these are paper questionnaire assessments and computer tools. The latter include psychometric profiling and knowledge tests. There are also computer-driving simulators.

Reducing Risks

Such tools help the assessment process. Employers can then reduce the risks of work-related driving by offering awareness seminars, training and even advanced driving tests.

Some companies also use public feedback schemes to maintain employees’ awareness of driving risks. The companies ask the public to report any instances of bad driving.

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