Work-related traffic incidents are on the rise: “A traffic policy can turn the tide”

The number of work-related traffic accidents is on the rise. More than 15% of occupational accidents in the Belgian private sector involve employees travelling to, from or as part of their work. A road traffic policy can help you keep these numbers under control, as Steven Verschueren, a prevention expert at Mensura, explains below.

The number of cars on Belgian roads keeps on rising. In the first quarter of 2019, the number of fatal accidents increased for the first time in seven years. “According to the latest figures, 40% of all fatal occupational accidents occur on the road”, prevention expert Steven Verschueren says.

Road traffic safety is an element of prevention

A vision on well-being and safety at work can help keep employees healthy in all aspects. “Well-thought-out health and safety policies should not just provide measures to encourage a healthy lifestyle and limit risks at work, but should also cover safe commuting. By protecting employees as best as possible while travelling, organisations can ensure their workers stay both safe and active.

In addition, this approach can help you save money, as work-related road traffic accidents do not just lead to direct costs — damage to vehicles, medical expenses, traffic fines — but to indirect costs too: reputational damage or a psychological impact on staff, for example.”

How can employers influence safety on public roads?
Steven: “By implementing road traffic policies that combine various measures to enable companies to organise all work-related travel as effectively and safely as possible.

Examples include defensive driving courses for all employees, policies on smartphone use at the wheel and awareness campaigns about the importance of taking breaks during long car rides.”

Management support is essential

Where do you start when implementing a road traffic policy?
Steven: “By engaging and motivating management: your policy will only have a chance of success if you manage to do just that. After all, it is management who provide the time, resources and staff to draw up an approach.

‘Leading by example’ is another crucial element. Do executives always make hands-free calls while they’re driving? And do they drive defensively? Setting the right example is the best way to make it clear that management is fully behind the commitment to improve road traffic safety.”

“A road traffic policy only has a chance of success if management gets behind the approach”

 

Which people within the organisation need to be involved in drawing up a road traffic policy?
Steven: “Ideally, organisations should set up a road traffic safety working group that includes various stakeholders: an employer representative, a number of employees, the prevention adviser and so on. This way, they can each bring their own perspective on road traffic safety to the table. Larger businesses can also appoint a mobility coordinator to lead the way.”

Tailor-made and structured

Which tasks should this working group take on?
Steven: “To start with, the team should gain insight into the current situation by gathering data. This is crucial in developing a tailor-made road traffic policy. Examples of essential data include previous incidents and traffic fines incurred by employees. An (anonymous) employee survey can also produce valuable insights: from mobile phone use behind the wheel to wearing seatbelts.

These data will show where the company is already doing well and where it can improve.”

“An effective road traffic policy is always tailor-made. As such, company data are crucial.”

 

Once the working group has completed these tasks, should it start setting targets?
Steven: “That’s right, but a structured approach is essential. It’s not enough to set some random figures as targets. The objectives formulated by the working group must be SMART: specific, measurable, acceptable to all stakeholders, realistic and time-bound. Limiting the annual number of traffic fines to two per driver is one good example. Organising a course on environmentally friendly driving for all drivers in the medium term (five years) could be another objective.”

Are there any legal requirements a road traffic policy or its objectives must comply with?
Steven: “No, despite the regrettable and rising number of road traffic accidents resulting in physical injury, there is no specific legislation on how road traffic policies can fulfil the requirements of the Well-being at Work Act. However, various organisations have developed tools that can highlight any issues. These tools can be used to support companies in drawing up policies in this area.”

Three supporting tools for road traffic policies

 

1- Road traffic safety checklist for companies

The checklist produced by the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Engineering can help companies take stock of risk factors and any measures already taken. 

 

2- Commuting survey

Belgian employers with more than 100 employees must gain insight into how their staff commute. To do so, the FPS Mobility and Transport organises an electronic survey every three years. You can survey employees internally using the associated tool. The results may well produce some useful insights.

 

3- Provincial Mobility Point

The Provincial Mobility Points can help organisations with any commuting challenges they have. Mobiscan, for example, can analyse the accessibility of a business and chart the mobility flows of its employees. Based on those data, the company is given a list of possible measures to better organise the mobility of its employees. If the company decides to implement one of these measures, Mobiscan will be free of charge.

Finger on the pulse

How can you make sure the objectives are not just hot air?
Steven: “By integrating the associated action points in existing tools and processes, and by communicating them clearly. For example, you can include road traffic safety in your employee handbook, your global prevention plan (GPP) and your annual action plan (AAP).

Raising awareness can also have a major impact: courses, posters on the importance of wearing seatbelts, sharing figures on road traffic accidents etc. are all measures that actively encourage employees to think about road traffic safety.”

“But that’s not where it ends: as with every other prevention measure, follow-up and assessment are essential. Are we making progress? To what extent are we meeting our objectives? These are just two of the questions the working group must ask itself. Next, it should make the necessary adjustments or formulate new objectives — and it should communicate these clearly to employees.

A road traffic policy can only have a real impact if it is continuously monitored and everyone is involved.”

Six steps towards an effective road traffic policy

 

1. Engage the company’s management.
2. Set up a road traffic safety working group.
3. Gather data.
4. Formulate objectives and communicate these clearly to employees.
5. Implement the objectives in existing tools.
6. Monitor, assess and adjust where necessary.

Commit to safe commuting

You can trust our experts to develop an effective health and safety policy that focuses on deploying healthy employees in the safest possible way. If you’d like more ideas, support or advice, feel free to e-mail us. We’re happy to help!