Protecting employees from motor vehicles crashes could be a profitable investment for U.S. businesses, according to a new report released today by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS).
In 2013, U.S. traffic crashes cost employers $47.4 billion in direct crash-related expenses, which includes medical care, liability, lost productivity and property damage.
The study showed that employers could control costs by promoting safe driving habits, including seat belt usage and the elimination of speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving, whether or not employees are on the clock.
The study was funded by the U.S. DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and updates a 2002 study, titled the Economic Burden of Traffic Crashes on Employers.
“The consequences of traffic crashes are far reaching. It’s a domino effect that negatively impacts individuals, families, communities and businesses,” said Dr. Mark Rosekind, NHTSA Administrator. “It is critical that individuals make safe choices. Driving behavior change in traffic safety is something NHTSA is exploring through a series of regional summits. We hope employers will join us and look at this report as a motivator to help save lives and prevent injuries on our roads.”
The report shows that more than 1.6 million work days were lost due to traffic crashes, with nearly 90 percent of those days attributed to crashes that occurred off the job, involving employees and/or their dependents. The report details the costs to employers of traffic crashes occurring on and off the job associated with driver behavior.
Speeding resulted in $8.4 billion in crash-related expenses, with distracted driving close behind, at $8.2 billion. Driving under the influence of alcohol resulted in $6.0 billion in losses and not wearing a seat belt added $4.9 billion to the total. In addition, the report finds that medical costs paid by employers per employee injured in a crash were nearly double in on-the-job crashes where the employee was not wearing a seat belt and increased by a third for off-the-job crashes. Click here for an Infographic of the findings.
“When people think of the human and financial impact of traffic crashes on the workplace, they think about company car drivers,” said Jack Hanley, Executive Director of NETS. “This new report is an eye-opener. It shows that employers bear the crash costs of all their employees, not just their company drivers. Investing in road safety is good business and today’s report provides employers with a blueprint for developing business cases in support of employee road safety.”
In tandem with the new report, NETS is introducing a free toolkit to help employers encourage employees to wear a seat belt. The toolkit was piloted by Coca-Cola Refreshments at its Bismarck ND site, where observed seat belt usage increased from a baseline 54 percent to 84 percent over a 6-week period. Coca-Cola Refreshments is a unit of The Coca-Cola Company, a NETS board member.
All the materials used are available in the toolkit and require minimal time and cost to conduct an all-employee site-wide seat belt usage improvement campaign. The free toolkit is available at 2seconds2click.org. NETS also offers at no charge The Comprehensive Guide to Road Safety™ for employers with occupational drivers—available via its website at trafficsafety.org.