One in four business drivers (27%) are being put under pressure to get to appointments on time and meet ambitious sales or delivery targets, leading to dangerous and in some cases illegal driving practices.
The study commissioned by RSA, the UK’s largest commercial insurer, examines the extent to which businesses and their employees are turning a blind eye to road safety as they try to cope with increased pressure to perform post-recession.
The findings show that a fifth of business drivers exceed the speed limit, while one in 10 drive through red lights, use the inside lane for overtaking on motorways or drive when tired.
In addition, as many as one in seven answer work calls while driving without using hands-free equipment, more than a third eat and drink on the move and a fifth smoke behind the wheel.
The study also questions the roadworthiness of some business vehicles. Almost a third of workers say they have driven with a blown light or faulty windscreen wipers and more than one in 10 have driven with a slow puncture.
With as many as a third of road traffic accidents involving someone driving for work, amounting to a £10 billion cost to the UK economy every year, dangerous driving while working is not just a serious safety issue, but also a significant business, social and economic issue.
Jon Hancock, managing director, commercial at RSA, said: “This research demonstrates the frightening disregard for road safety that exists within some businesses and employees as the pressure to perform becomes more pronounced post-recession.
“Employers have a duty of care to ensure the legality of their vehicles as well as the safety of their drivers and, by extension, other road users, yet these findings suggest that due diligence is not being adhered to in all parts of the country or by all types of business drivers.
“Closer attention to road, vehicle and driver safety will not only reduce potentially fatal accidents, but also save businesses money on repairs and increased insurance premiums.”
Safety conscious fleets urged the industry to not lose focus at Brake’s annual Best of the Best Fleet Safety Forum Conference recently.
Fleet operators, including the Environment Agency, Iron Mountain and Cemex, were on hand to share their experiences in dealing with risk, and speakers stressed that tackling road safety can be good news for the bottom line.
Iron Mountain employed Zurich Risk Engineering (ZRE) to conduct an audit to measure its work-related road risk management and compare it with industry best practices.
The results led to a risk assessment programme for all its commercial vehicle drivers. This included testing on the Iron Mountain driver policies; an online driver risk assessment programme on all areas of road safety and driver assessment and training using a team of five in-house driver trainers.
Tracey Kinloch, European risk manager at Iron Mountain, told delegates at the Fleet Safety Forum event how the move had benefited the company.
She said: “Our incident rate has reduced by 65% over three years, our insures gave us a 14% rate reduction and our road damage, which is self-insured, reduced by 60% off the bottom line.”
Rory Morgan, national logistics general manager for Iron Mountain Europe, concluded: “In three years nearly £2m has been saved.”