8% of drivers killed between 2018 and 2022 were driving for work

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Road closed signs on a coastal road due to fallen rocks.
  • Those who drive for work more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviours

22 November 2023 – RSA’s analysis* of road traffic collision data shows that between 2018 and 2022 8% of drivers killed and 12% of drivers seriously injured were driving for work.

The RSA’s Driving for Work webinar gets underway today and hears from a number of experts on managing risks to employees who drive for work, including work-related fatigue, and offers advice on the topic of creating safe driving for work practices.

Driving for work can also pose risks to fellow workers and vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. The RSA’s analysis also revealed that between 2018 and 2022, 23% of drivers involved in fatal collisions were driving for work and 19% of drivers involved in serious injury collisions were driving for work.

Survey research from the RSA in 2021 found that those who drive for work are more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviours including speeding, drink-driving, driving while fatigued and not wearing a seatbelt. 92%** of drivers who drive for work report regularly wearing a seat belt when driving, compared to 97% of all drivers, for example. 30% of drivers who drive for work have ever fallen asleep or nodded off behind the wheel, compared to 24% of all drivers.

A 2021 observational study also found that 75% of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers exceeded the speed limit on 100km/h roads (where the speed limit for HGVs is 80km/h) and almost 30% exceeded the speed limit on motorways (where the speed limit for HGVs is 90km/h).

A study of mobile device usage by drivers of various vehicle types, conducted in 2022, found that 9% of HGV drivers observed were using their mobile phone while driving.

Fatalities on Irish roads are the highest they have been in six years. As of 11.59pm on 20 November, there have been 168 fatalities in 2023, 35 more than during the same period in 2022.  Approximately seven in 10 fatalities this year have occurred on rural roads, with a speed limit of 80km/h or greater.

Velma Burns, Research Manager, RSA, said: “Our research has demonstrated that those who drive for work are more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviours. This is why we need to educate employers on the importance of implementing safe driving for work practices and help educate employees on the importance of safe driving. Improving driver behaviour when driving for work will help us reduce deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads.”

Deirdre Sinnott McFeat, Senior Inspector, Health and Safety Authority, said: “Driving for work involves not only risks for working drivers, but also for fellow workers and other road users. As an employer or self-employed person, you must, by law, manage the risks that may arise when you or your employees drive for work. Employers should have systems in place to make sure that driving for work activities are road safety compliant. Employers can be true leaders in road safety improvements by promoting and influencing safe driving behaviour and actions by their employees.”

Superintendent Tom Murphy, An Garda Síochána said“As RSA research shows that more than one in five drivers involved in fatal injury collisions are driving for work at the time of the collision, it is critical that employers prioritise policies to promote safe driving behaviours.  An Garda Síochána is gravely concerned as to the current level of fatalities on Irish roads and we are committed to working with all stakeholders in addressing this very concerning trend.”

The webinar addresses employers, employees and those who are self-employed, and transport, safety and fleet managers who operate heavy commercial vehicles in all work sectors, specifically those involved in routine transport of goods, equipment and materials.

*Figures are provisional and subject to change: 8% represents 25 fatalities and 12% represents 275 serious injuries.

**This does not necessarily mean that the driver was driving for work while engaging in the specific dangerous behaviour.

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