Work-related motor vehicle accidents
You may think that it won’t happen to your company, but research shows work-related motor vehicle accidents can—and do—happen. Here’s how to reduce your risk.
Defining the scope of the problem
Work-related accidents include:
- Single- or multiple-vehicle crashes on or off public roadways while on the job
- Pedestrian workers struck by motor vehicles on or off a public roadway
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, between 2003 and 2018, more than 29,000 employees in the U.S. died in work-related motor vehicle crashes.
Looking at 2019 specifically, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- 1,270 U.S. workers driving or riding in motor vehicles on public roads died in work-related crashes (24 percent of all work-related deaths). An additional 577 deaths that year (11 percent of all work-related deaths) involved workers driving or riding in motor vehicles off public roads or pedestrians struck by motor vehicles.
- Of these deaths, the transportation and warehousing industry saw the highest percentage (41 percent), followed by construction (12 percent), wholesale and retail trade (nine percent), and administrative and support and waste management and remediation services (seven percent).
- It’s important to note that more than half of workers (56 percent) who died due to work-related motor vehicle accidents in 2019 were not employed in motor vehicle operator jobs.
The high cost of casualties
In 2019, work-related accidents cost employers $39 billion, according to the BLS:
- Each non-fatal injury costs employers $75,000 on average
- Each employee death costs employers $751,000 on average
These costs don’t take into account the psychological effects of accidents on employees, coworkers, families, and employers.
Safe driving saves lives
You probably don’t need the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to tell you that as a small business owner, it’s important to implement a driver safety program. But in case you do, a driver safety program can save lives, reduce the risk of serious injuries on the job, and protect your company’s financial assets. By training employees on basic safe driving practices and rewarding safety-first behavior, you can help change driver attitudes and reinforce a culture of safety on the job.
The CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health fact sheet, Preventing work-related motor vehicle crashes, recommends ways to keep workers safe while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. It outlines the elements of a successful motor vehicle safety program, including a checklist to help you implement the recommendations.
In addition, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety has developed the free resource, Comprehensive Guide to Road Safety™. The manual, which is available in 21 languages, helps employers develop, enhance, or audit their motor vehicle safety programs. It includes information regarding:
- Training programs
- High-risk driver identification and intervention
- The collision review process
- The use of in-vehicle monitoring systems and safety technology supplied by the original equipment manufacturer
- Authorized driver process
- Metrics to track, including collisions/injuries per million miles, percentage of the fleet in a collision, most common collision types, scorecard by vehicle type
- Use of mobile phones and other electronic devices
- Engaging senior management
- Administrative controls to consider, such as limiting the number of hours driven per day or per week, or instituting mandatory rest breaks
At the bare minimum, experts say small business owners should take steps to ensure that all employed drivers of commercial and non-commercial vehicles leased or owned by the company adhere to local, regional, state, and national regulations, traffic laws, and regulatory requirements.
Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.