Ottawa, September 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Today, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) released a new report, Distracted Driving & Workplace Safety Policies: A Business Case for Employers, from its Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving. It was developed in consultation with The Co-operators, Drop It And Drive®, the trucking industry, and workplace health and safety representatives. This report underscores the importance of distracted driving policies in the workplace to protect employees. Preventing distraction-related crashes on the road and in the workplace remains a priority for Canadian employers. The challenges of the past few months necessitated major adjustments to a new normal as businesses focused its attention on the COVID-19 pandemic and establishing new health and safety measures. With traffic volumes returning to normal, the safety of essential workers and others who rely on our roads remains paramount.
“In addition to the immeasurable costs for communities and families who experience death and serious injuries due to distracted driving, these collisions have significant costs and consequences for employers,” explains Robyn Robertson, President & CEO, Traffic Injury Research Foundation. “In several Canadian jurisdictions, motor vehicle collisions account for almost 1/3 of persons killed in traumatic workplace incidents.”
According to the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in 2017, the average number of days lost for transportation employees injured within one month of a workplace incident was nine days. Not only are businesses adversely affected by resulting economic losses due to employee absenteeism (due to injuries) and the replacement of skilled workers, but they also incur significant costs to repair or replace damaged equipment, or goods that are destroyed. Costs can be exponential and not limited to the time of the crash event. Employers can expect to incur costs over a period of months, if not years, which can impact all areas of their business, and smaller companies have the most to lose.
Diverse expertise was gathered from members of TIRF’s Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving (CCDD) and a broad range of stakeholders who attended the 3rd and 4th Annual Meetings. TIRF also worked closely with the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC), and the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (ISHA) to refine the business case with a focus on the transportation industry.
“As traffic volumes rapidly return, normal vehicle collisions and the aftermath continue to have both direct and indirect costs for employees and employers,” says Rob Wesseling, President and CEO of The Co-operators. “I’m proud of the role that The Co-operators has played as a co-founder of the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving (CCDD).The CCDD’s Distracted Driving & Workplace Safety Policies: A Business Case for Employers, focuses on creating safer roads for all drivers and endeavours to engage employers in safeguarding the well-being of their employees. The Co-operators has strengthened its own distracted driving policies and encourages other employers to follow suit.”
Over the past 20 years, a consistent decline in injuries and claims has been achieved in the transportation industry due to commitment among employers to higher safety standards. In fact, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes generally declined between 2000 and 2015. While it fluctuated between 309 and 523 between 2000 and 2015 in Canada, more recently the number of large trucks in fatal crashes rose to 389 in 2017 (Transport Canada 2019).
Employers in this industry also recognize their critical role in prioritizing strategies to prevent distracted driving among their employees and protect them from other distracted drivers on the road to ensure declines continue.
“The trucking industry in Canada is committed to eliminating distraction by working proactively on a number of fronts. Efforts identified in TIRF’s business case and used by Canadian Trucking Alliance members provide real-world examples of proactive steps taken by our industry,” says Geoff Wood, Senior VP, Policy, Canadian Trucking Alliance. “We continue to work cooperatively with governments and share innovative approaches to address distracted driving as part of our 10-point safety plan which also promotes the importance of driver training.”
This business case describes the costs of prevention programs and compares them to collision costs. It illustrates the value of integrating distracted driving policies into workplace safety programs and reinforcing them in day-to-day safety practices. It also contains a call to action for employers in this industry to implement distracted driving policies as a standard component of workplace safety programs. Tools are included to help employers estimate the costs to their business and quantify the value of distracted driving safety policies which can protect staff and improve safety in the communities where they live and work.
In summary, employers contributing to the development of the business case agree, “If anyone thinks safety is too expensive, they need to measure the cost of an unsafe operation, workplace injuries and fatalities against the cost of education and effective policies.”
About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation: The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. TIRF is an independent, charitable road safety research institute. Since its inception in 1964, TIRF has become internationally recognized for its accomplishments in identifying the causes of road crashes and developing programs and policies to address them effectively.
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $51.4 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies, it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is ranked as a Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizen in Canada and listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Kincentric (formerly AON). For more information, visit www.cooperators.ca.
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