Driver Improvement At Work

If your safety program does not already include driver improvement, now is the time to look at the benefits of implementing the Canada Safety Council's Defensive Driving Course (DDC).

Which work-related tasks carry the most risk? If you survey your workplace, you may find, as others have, that most employees rank driving as their riskiest activity.

Predictably, the transportation sector had the highest proportion of casualties. Nevertheless almost all industry divisions reported significant deaths and injuries due to "highway accidents."

Better Drivers, Lower Costs

Any business that has company vehicles will have collisions. The more collisions in the fleet, the higher the medical and vehicle insurance costs. Moreover, direct costs are like the tip of an iceberg. If an employee is injured, the often-hidden indirect costs can include lost time and productivity, and possibly hiring and training a replacement.

Rising liability and repair costs are reflected in insurance costs. For individuals as well as fleets, collisions lead to higher insurance premiums. In addition, if an employee is injured while on the job, the employer may be subject to Workers' Compensation increases.

Today, due diligence is as important a consideration as cost control. Occupational health and safety regulations hold companies accountable if their employees are injured when conducting job-related duties for which they have not been trained.

For an individual or a small business with fewer than 10 vehicles, the benefits of a driver improvement program are hard to quantify unless a crash actually occurs. Typically, the deductible for a small fleet is $5,000 to $10,000. That comes straight from the bottom line when a collision happens.

Larger fleets track the frequency and cost of collisions. This permits them to assess the preventive value of driver improvement programs. For example, a transport company reported that drivers who had taken DDC were involved in 70 per cent fewer chargeable collisions than those who had not; the average dollar cost per collision for the trained drivers was 33 per cent lower. A municipality reported a 58 per cent reduction in the number of vehicle collisions five years after introducing DDC.

For employees who have a company car or drive their own vehicle on the job, driving is a matter of occupational safety. However, an estimated nine out of 10 time-loss injuries happen off the job. Safe drivers lose less time from work because they avoid collisions. That is why all employees who have a driver's licence can benefit from DDC.

Defensive Drivers Use Less Fuel

The way you drive affects the amount of fuel your vehicle uses. Simply driving more smoothly can save up to 30 per centor more on gas - and defensive driving habits enable smooth driving. For example, when you anticipate traffic conditions, leave a three-second following distance and respect speed limits you avoid constant acceleration and braking, which are hard on fuel consumption. Jackrabbit starts and hard braking not only show poor driving technique but also waste fuel.

The Canada Safety Council's guidelines on incentive programs for long-haul truckers combine safety and productivity, including fuel efficiency. Transport fleet managers who analyze performance know that, statistically, drivers with a good safety record also use less fuel.

The 2003 edition of DDC, a.k.a. the Green DDC, offers a unit on how to improve gas mileage and reduce emissions. That unit covers fuel-efficient driving techniques, vehicle options, use of cruise and air conditioning, maintenance, alternative fuels and other aspects of environmentally friendly driving.

Beyond the Bottom Line

It may well be "the other guy" who causes a collision. Nonetheless, it's not always the guilty driver who suffers death, injury, financial loss or inconvenience. Even if you are absolutely blameless, you may have been able to prevent the collision. Furthermore, you can suffer, and so can your passengers, as though you had been at fault.

Being in the right will not save you from a crash. You must be prepared for the unsafe actions of others or for poor driving conditions. A driver improvement program will show you how to protect yourself and your loved ones by driving defensively.