LEGAL LINES - Work-related road safety

Monday, November 18, 2019

Employers must ensure, so far is as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees while they are at work. This includes when they are in, or operating, a vehicle for work purposes. Following on from my discussion last month about employers’ obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, I would urge all businesses to put a safe driving policy in place. Not only will a safe driving policy help employers to meet their health and safety responsibilities, but it will also reduce injuries among workers, save money, and increase productivity. Furthermore, the policy is potentially an opportunity to enhance a company’s reputation by implementing driving initiatives that will put the business on a preferred supplier list for organisations that will only contract companies with safe driving polices.

What is a safe driving policy?
It is creating systems and policies that mean that the company:
• buys or hires vehicles with a high safety rating;
• provides driver education to any employee who drives a vehicle for work;
• reduces the potential for driver fatigue and distraction – even among employees who use a vehicle to commute to and from work;
• reduces the number of infringement notices received;
• reduces the risk of serious injuries if the worst happens, by promoting the use of safety belts, providing incentives to ensure safe driving, and having processes in place to manage poor driving among workers.

The goal of a safe driving policy is to protect drivers because it’s common sense that injuries and replacing damaged vehicles is expensive. Once the policy has been put in place, it is essential that all employees are familiar with it, particularly those who drive as part of their jobs. A company that is serious about road safety could make the policy part of its code of conduct.

How will a safe driving policy
save money?
If a safe driving policy is put in place, the savings could include:
• lower insurance premiums;
• lower crash repair bills;
• lower maintenance costs (e.g. in tyre wear);
• reduction in lost productivity, fewer sales missed because of fewer interruptions to service;
• less sick leave and lower temporary staff costs;
• reduced payments to third parties who might be involved in a crash.

Preparing to write your policy
The following is a checklist of matters that should be considered before writing a safe driving policy. If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, start collecting this information over the next six to 12 months:
• Identify the types of vehicles you use and some of their features. Are they leased or do you own them?
• Identify how your drivers use vehicles. For example, do they carry loads and what are their driving hours?
• Identify the level of driver licensing and training. Are your drivers licensed for and trained to drive these vehicles?
• Add up how much you spend on fuel, because aiming to lower fuel cost also improves driver safety.
• Where and at what time of day have crashes, vehicle accidents, damage, personal injuries, near-hit incidents and traffic offences occurred?

What were the causes and who was at fault?
• Did bad driver behaviour cause the crashes? Was there any drink-driving, speeding, fatigue, not wearing safety belts, failing to give way?
• Did driving manoeuvres cause the crashes, and if so, could extra driver training have helped?
• How much have accidents and infringements cost the business? Include traffic fines, insurance excesses and premiums, repairs, replacements and vehicle maintenance, lost sales and productivity, sick leave, and payments to third parties.

Remind employees who drive of their responsibilities. These are to:
• comply with the New Zealand Road Code and all traffic laws, rules and regulations;
• comply with the safe driving policy;
• attend driver training;
• avoid aggressive road behaviour;
• advise their managers of speeding tickets, crashes and breaches of traffic regulations;
• report all injury crashes to police within 24 hours;
• hold current driver licences for the correct classes of vehicle, and ensure that endorsements are valid;
• drive in a way that conserves fuel and not make unnecessary trips;
• notify of any near misses.