According to a 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the number one cause of death on the job was highway accidents. Of the approximately 5,600 on-the-job fatalities in 2007, more than 2,300 were transportation-related incidents. Given these bleak statistics, it is not surprising to learn that many employers are taking steps to reduce accidents by implementing driver’s training for some or all of their employees.
Automobile accidents result in serious financial and emotional costs to a company. Although there is a cost associated with offering safe driving courses to employees, the benefits far outweigh the expense of the courses. For instance, many insurance companies offer discounts to businesses that participate in driver’s training programs, which helps offset the costs. Programs range from workbooks and videos to on-line classes, some of which are available directly from the National Safety Council. Employers can track which employees participate in online courses through the National Safety Council, and can individually reward an employee for participating in the program. If even one fatality is avoided due to safe driving, then a company avoids both emotional and financial hardship.
Safe driving courses are by no means a new concept. Harold L. Smith introduced The Smith System in the 1940s to help prevent accidents before they occur. The five basic concepts of The Smith System are still being taught today to assist drivers in making smart choices behind the wheel. The courses offer practical, easy-to-learn driving techniques and are available throughout the country.
Even if an employer makes the decision not to offer formal driver’s safety courses, a company can still encourage employees to be aware of a few common sense tips for being a safer driver. Both technology and fatigue are potentially deadly when combined with drivers on the road. Make sure employees know it is best to pull over and rest if they get tired. Arriving alive is more important than arriving on time. Technology, including cellular phones, MP3 players, and PDAs, can also be deadly on the road. Companies should instruct employees to pull over to make an important business call or jot down notes. It might be the most important stop they make that day.
Although it may be difficult for a company to enforce good driving habits, every effort should be made to encourage driver safety. Driver’s training courses offer a way to verify that employees are learning good driving skills and hopefully being more aware of safety concepts on the road. Safe driving skills may benefit the employer, but employees are also rewarded personally through reduced speeding tickets and fewer accidents. The financial costs associated with implementing safe driving are quickly outweighed by the benefits, and reward employer and employee alike.