Are auto accidents driving your organization’s losses? Work-related motor vehicles ac?cidents (MVAs) cost businesses $2 billion annually, according to a 2006 study by the National Council on Compensation Insur?ance (NCCI). The study found that traffic collisions tended to be more serious than other industrial acci?dents. But auto accidents don’t just affect workers’ compensation losses; one severe injuries accident can impact an organization in many ways, from large jury verdicts to loss of key personnel.
Traffic-related injuries can be reduced with focused loss control efforts. First, review your organiza?tion’s accident history to determine which types of accidents are most fre?quent. Focus on these types first, whether they are single-vehicle collisions or rear-end impacts. Put in place some simple policies to reduce accidents.
- Institute a mandatory defensive driving course for new employees, which should be renewed every few years.
- Enforce seat belt use.
- Prohibit cell phone use behind the wheel, even with headsets. Employees who talk and drive are more impaired in their re?sponses than drivers who are le?gally intoxicated, according to a recent University of Utah study.
- Consider monitoring speed limits on commercial vehicles and installing other collision-avoidance devices.
- Beef up driver training, even for experienced drivers. The Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) developed guidelines for driver safety that are available for down?load on OSHA’s Web site. The National Safety Council has programs available on defen?sive driving, fleet driving, and professional drivers’ courses.
- Don’t assume employees know how to drive in adverse weather conditions like snow and ice. As employees move to regions with unfamiliar weather conditions, many lack even rudimentary experience driving in inclement weather.
While technologies abound to improve driver performance, fleet-related loss control efforts do not have to be sophisticated to get re?sults. Focusing on problem drivers is a great place to start. Obtain motor vehicle reports for new hires and then annually on all employees and implement acceptable driving standards. If employees are driving their own cars recklessly, imagine how they’re driving your company vehicle.
Many corporations, including Frito Lay, well-respected for its safe?ty emphasis and voluntary compli?ance efforts with OSHA to reduce injuries, offer awards after a set number of miles driven accident-free. Peer re?view committees, where accidents are reviewed to assist with preven?tion, are also effective when used as a preventative, not punitive, tool.
The NCCI estimates more than 20 percent of traffic-related work?ers’ comp injuries involve a potential for subro?gation, which means collecting all or a portion of your losses from the other party. Even if your employee is partially at fault, this may not bar recovery. Your loss history can be significantly reduced if funds are collected from the at-fault party. Busy adjusters often over?look subrogation, so review your claims runs quarterly to determine the subrogation status on any auto accidents that offer a potential for partial or full recovery.
Perhaps the most important step an organization can take to reduce all types of accidents is to tie safety adherence to performance evaluations. Rewards work some of the time, but tying raises and promotions to consistently safe practices tells employees that your organization values safety.
Driving losses can be reduced with planning and determination. The message that employees must hear from senior management is that accidents are avoidable and unacceptable.