Are You Prioritising Road and Vehicle Safety? 1

Monday, April 18th, 2016
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Every 15 minutes there is a vehicle accident in Australia and New Zealand. With seven out of 10 Australian employees on the road every day, it’s not surprising that vehicles remain the biggest cause of workplace accidents.

Safe vehicles make a big difference

Many organisations are taking a proactive stance toward vehicle fleet safety by introducing 5 Star ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) policies, insisting on all vehicles reaching this standard. Vehicles that achieve a 5 Star ANCAP rating are now easily available in every vehicle category, and businesses are reporting a minimal cost differential between a 5 Star and 4 Star rated vehicle.

But even if 5 Star vehicles cost more, it would still be an economically sensible choice. It’s a simple fact that the choice of vehicle can have a significant influence on injury risk factors and the likelihood of serious injury or death in the event of an accident. Choosing safer vehicles is an investment in the well-being of your staff and the wider community – safe vehicle policies save lives. Safer vehicles means fewer accidents, less serious injuries when accidents do occur, reduced insurance claims and consequently lower insurance premiums.

As well as saving money, safer vehicles can also keep your business’ productivity levels at their highest. With a reduced probability of being involved in an accident, investing in safe vehicles means you can increase the likelihood of having your full fleet available for work at any given point in time. Furthermore, preventing workplace injuries means no drop in productivity from having core employees unavailable.

Here’s an example from Uniting Care Queensland that was shared on a WorkSafe Australia virtual seminar: one of their drivers was involved in a head-on collision where they were hit by another driver in the wet. All the air bags deployed and the car was a write-off. That driver was back at work within two days. In an inferior vehicle, that driver may have needed more time off work to recover or may even have died in the collision.

Safer fleet vehicles equals safer vehicles in the wider community

It’s not just the impact on your own business that’s important. By choosing to only buy 5 Star ANCAP vehicles, businesses can increase the adoption of safer vehicles throughout the community.

For example, VicRoads says that the average age of a registered fleet in Victoria is around about 10 years. Government vehicles are generally in service for about two years. These vehicles then flow on to the public and by government fleets having a 5 Star policy, there is a quicker uptake of these safer vehicles on the road. Some organisations give their own employees the first option to buy these 5 Star vehicles at the end of their time as a fleet vehicle so those employees can be safer every day when driving to and from work.

Prioritising road and vehicle safety is everybody’s responsibility. Ensuring that your organisation’s vehicles are as safe as possible is the first step in that process, partnered with good driving practices. By being proactive, we can all play a part in reducing vehicle related injuries and fatalities in the workplace.

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  1. Robert Jones

    Great point. Absolutely, you shouldn't skimp on safety irrespective of the cost, and as shown above, in many cases safer vehicles could actually lead to higher productivity at any rate.

    That said, safer vehicles do not eradicate the need to continually push for a broader safety culture. Some years ago when I was in my university days, I did a summer job at a recycling factory. When I got hopped in the truck one morning, the driver noticed that I had buckled up. Meaning to be friendly, he insisted that I did not need to have a seat belt and, with all the right intentions, proceeded to kindly unbuckle my seat. Naturally, I politely insisted that I would wear my seat belt and buckled straight back up again.

    I'm not sure if that type of attitude still persists but I certainly hope not. You can have all of the safety features you like within a vehicle (and these are great to have), but they won't mean anything unless they are accompanied by basic common sense behaviour such as wearing seat belts, keeping within speed limits, taking regular breaks and driving only when in the right condition to do so (i.e. not under the influence of alcohol or narcotics).