Lord Digby Jones has appealed to the business world to take action to help cut road deaths and injuries among employees.
Implementing workplace road safety was “the right thing to do,” he told business leaders at the launch of a campaign he is backing by road safety organisation, the TTC Group, which educates 320,000 road users each year to cut casualties.
With the Government’s latest statistics on employee road deaths due to be published on September 24, the former UK Trade Minister, who “bangs the drum” about how businesses must change in the 21st century, spoke about how company bosses can protect “the bottom line” while helping to save lives at the same time.
The former UK Director-General of the Confederation of Business and Industry (CBI), joined road safety campaigners and the legal world to raise awareness about road safety among company bosses who employ staff to drive on business.
A total of 515 black balloons, representing those who died in the UK in just one year as a result of driving at work, were on display at the launch.
Lord Jones said: “People are dying on the road every day. Five people will die today, tomorrow another five and every day after that. A third are driving in a car on business. We can change that. Businesses can be a force for good.”
A lot of people did not associate the car as a workplace and businesses must take measures to protect their workforce, he said.
Businesses had a greater responsibility than “just making money,” he said.
Firms had the power to change the huge emotional price being paid by implementing management practices such as TTC DriverProtect which “ticked all the boxes” for health and safety and company compliance, he said.
“It is morally right to stop these deaths and seeing today how such things as this can make it work. It takes the worry away for businesses.
“The biggest reason for doing it is that it is the right thing to do and a life saved is a very noble purpose.”
Many companies were still “oblivious” to the potential cost, impact and legal risk they face and were failing in their duty of care when managing workplace road safety, said TTC Group Road Safety Director Alan Prosser.
“More than one in four fatal collisions involve someone who is on a work journey. The financial cost is enormous – about £14 billion a year – with each death costing just under £2m. The personal and human costs are immeasurable.”
A large number of fleet managers failed their duty of care, particularly among the UKs 14 million fleet drivers, with one in four not checking if their drivers had a valid MOT, 18% never inspected driving licences and 13% did not check if they had the correct insurance for driving for work.
Ever since the first three people died in the UK – as a result of work related journeys – in the last part of the 19th century, the authorities had been trying to make roads safer.
The coroner at the inquest of Bridget Driscoll (44) who was the first pedestrian to die after being hit by a car travelling at 4mph in 1896 said that he hoped “such a thing would never happen again.”
Since then many thousands of people had died on the roads, said Mr Prosser.
Business leaders heard how they can reduce the road risk to staff with TTC DriverProtect software, a complete online compliance, risk management and e-learning solution.
“There is no cost to companies to manage workplace road safety. It’s an investment where risk can be managed for as little as 4p per employee per day to protect your people and your business.”
Firefighters joined the road safety campaign by cutting free business manager Matt Jewkes from a wrecked car to show how they rescue hundreds of people each year.
After the demo rescue, Matt said: “It’s quite a nasty experience to go through.”
John Redmond, Chief Fire Officer of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Firefighters don’t like cutting people out of cars for real. But they do it every day and we must all do our utmost to save more lives.”
Lawyer Graham Davies, Senior Partner at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, said: “The statistics we’ve heard today are staggering and with the number of vehicles on the road increasing, the risk to employers is also on the rise.
“If businesses want to keep within the law, reduce risk, and comply with the law, then TTC DriverProtect is what you need to have.”
Proper procedures reduce the risk of prosecution and help employers to stay within the law, he added.
In 2013, a total of 515 people died as a result of work related collisions. There were 5,052 serious injuries and 42,035 slight injuries. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-annual-report-2013
Organisations such as BT, which had successfully implemented fleet management practices, were praised for cutting monthly injury and damage collision rates by half from 60 per 1,000 vehicles in 2001 to less than 30 per 1,000 in 2014 saving £12m a year by managing workplace road safety.