For many people driving is an important part of their job. And although work related road accidents mostly happen on the public road, employers are responsible for the safety of their employees outside the workplace.

Providing workplace transport is an expensive undertaking for any business when you consider an HGV will cost in excess of £100K, a van £30K, and a typical company car £40K.  What’s more, there’s fuel, maintenance insurance, telematics, dashcams and other costs to consider as well, such as training and fleet management.

This article aims to support employers better manage their road risks and develop a suitable management programme.

Driving for work: Definition and statistics

According to the European Transport Safety Council ‘driving for work’ includes professional transport (delivering goods and people), driving whilst at work (salespeople, for example), workers on the road (carrying out repairs, constructing new roads, etc) and commuting to work. This article focuses on driving whilst at work and professional transport.

Of 520 fatalities recorded by the police in 2018 from road collisions involving a working driver/rider, 432 (83%) of these were other road users. Working drivers and their passengers accounted for 63 fatalities (12%).

GOV UK statistics released in 2022 had highlighted that the number of vehicle journeys have increased over pre-pandemic levels with some 323.8 billion miles being driven in 2022.  As a result, roads are more congested and vehicle journey times are increasing.  The most shocking statistic is that there has been a 3.2% increase in road traffic fatalities since 2012.

The main types of drivers involved in collisions resulting in injuries are male aged 30 – 49, and most accidents involve cars (75,363), light goods vehicles (3,581) and heavy goods vehicles (660). Research in Britain shows that car and light van drivers with high proportions of work-related mileage have a 53% greater risk of being injured in a car crash than other drivers of similar age, sex and annual mileage.

The employer’s responsibilities

We need to be clear – the vehicle is a place of work and, therefore, any driving activities are covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Legislation on safety and health at work

In the UK the main laws that affect Driving at Work are:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
  • The Road Traffic Act 2016.

Impact of legislation on road safety

The moment the employer directs the employee to use any vehicle, company or employee owned, the duty of care and laws come into play. This includes grey fleet drivers who claim back mileage costs.

This means that the employer needs to have the following in place to ensure they meet their legal duties:

  • Policies and procedure
  • Risk assessments
  • Supervision of drivers
  • Appropriate training and risk mitigation
  • Record keeping (inspections and maintenance)

Policies can include a range of issues, from regulations on driving times, breaks and rest periods for drivers who transport goods or passengers by road to checking driving licences, use of mobile phones and driver training.

In addition to these legal requirements, insurance providers may introduce additional duties, both for those driving company owned vehicles and for those driving their own vehicle on company business. In the latter case, this may include the requirement that the driver’s own insurance includes such business use.

There have been a number of high-profile cases where employers have failed in their duty of care. Considering the highest fine handed out by the courts in 2017 was £2.3m, not paying attention to managing your road risk can be costly!

Benefits of managing road safety

Apart from complying with legislation, managing road safety on the company level has many benefits, for example:

  • Fewer days lost due to accidents;
  • Reduced risk of work-related ill health;
  • Reduced stress and improved morale;
  • Fewer vehicles off the road for repair — and reduced maintenance costs;
  • Fewer missed orders;
  • Less need for investigation and follow-up;
  • Less pollution and more fuel-efficiency from vehicles;
  • Less chance of key employees being banned from driving (e.g., because of drunk driving).

Taking this approach will also improve your standing with your insurer and will likely help reduce your insurance premiums!

Risk assessment on road safety

Road safety should be assessed. The assessment of road traffic risks should consider the following:

  • Your drivers
  • The road journeys they undertake;
  • The types of road journeys are undertaken on;
  • When the journeys take place;
  • Accident and incidents;
  • Other data you have from trackers, telematics and dashcams;
  • Customer feedback

A risk assessment should consider whether the existing precautions are adequate. It is recommended that you consider the HSE’s principles of risk prevention. It’s possible to eliminate the hazard by, for instance, proposing alternatives for driving, such as using public transport or by organising a telephone or videoconference instead of making people travel to a meeting.

This chapter will expand on the risks related to the journey, the vehicle and the driver and proposes some measures that can possibly reduce these risks.

Risks related to the journey

The journey holds risk. The type of roads driven, the distance and duration of journeys, and poor driving conditions can make travelling more dangerous.  Moreover, ill-health, stress or fatigue can increase the risk of a collision.

Prevention Strategies

To prevent these risks, employers and employees should plan the journey thoroughly. The following questions should be asked before each departure:

  • Is the trip necessary?
  • Is it possible to use other means of transport?
  • Can the journey be usefully combined with other road trips?
  • Is the driver fit to drive?

Travelling should be avoided, if possible. If a trip is necessary, the exposure of workers to occupational road risks should be reduced by:

  • Considering appropriate routes and using safer roads such as motorways.
  • Incorporating realistic work schedules.
  • Not putting drivers at risk from fatigue.
  • Taking adverse weather conditions into account.

This means that every journey should be planned with road type, hazards (road works, accident ‘hot spots’), traffic densities (avoid peak traffic hours) and high-risk features such as schools or busy shopping centres in mind. The journey planning should also include stops (every two hours) so that drivers can have regular rest breaks.

To reduce the need for speeding or skipping rest breaks, employers could set indicative limits on maximum driving distances and allow staff to take overnight stops. Also ensure that journey scheduling allows sufficient time for drivers to consider weather and traffic conditions in real-time.

Risks related to the vehicle

Poor vehicle maintenance is a major contributor to road traffic accidents. Defective lights, worn tyres, windscreen wipers or brakes have a major impact on the safety of a vehicle.

Apart from being in a safe and fit condition, vehicles must meet the purpose for which they are used. For instance, heavy loads should not be transported with a delivery van and vehicles that are used to transport people are required to meet strict safety measures.

The appropriate vehicle

Company vehicles must be adapted to the type of travel and mission to be carried out (short trips, transport of persons, material or freight). The vehicle must be adapted according to the persons and or loads to be transported. When transporting goods there should be a separation between the passenger and the loads compartment.


Steps to ensure vehicle maintenance should be planned and organised; there should be clear procedures and communication arrangements in place. Ensuring that vehicles are properly maintained involves:

  • Identifying a person(s) responsible.
  • Planning for the servicing of vehicles – service requirements should be defined by the company. The frequency of controls should depend on the conditions under which vehicles are used and manufacturers’ recommended service intervals.
  • Monitoring the status of vehicles on a daily basis.
  • Vehicle users reporting any problems during use, according to established procedures (e.g., report form, intervention request form).
  • Further involving staff by getting them to do daily and weekly vehicle checks. Basic checks before any journey include:
    • Are windows and mirrors clean?
    • Are tires, brakes, steering and lights in good condition?;
  • Instructing and training staff on maintenance arrangements and procedures for their vehicles.
  • Insisting that vehicles owned by drivers (Grey Fleet) are properly maintained and regularly serviced.

Risks related to the driver

Even when the journey is well planned and the vehicle safe and fit for purpose, accidents can happen. If the driver is not properly trained or too tired to drive, he is at risk.

Employers should also consider training as part of the risk management strategy. Most non-HGV /PCV drivers may not have had any refresher training since passing their test. For a 30-year-old, this could be 16 years ago!

Employers should ensure that drivers are:

  • Competent and capable of doing their work in a way that is safe for them and others;
  • Properly trained;
  • Sufficiently fit and healthy to drive safely and not put themselves and others at risk;
  • Provided with information that will help them reduce risk;
  • Provided with appropriate advice on driving posture.


A driving licence is of course the first ‘proof’ of a driver’s competence. However, it doesn’t necessarily say anything about the driver’s experience or the fact that he/she is a careful driver or not. Employers should do an assessment of current driving skills during recruitment procedures to assess their ability to drive.

It is recommended that the driver’s competence is regularly reassessed. It is also recommended that the reassessment should be linked to the driver risk assessment. If the driver has been involved in an accident or traffic violation, this should be investigated to determine whether the driver’s attitudes, skills or behaviour has contributed to the crash. If so, follow up action should be taken.

Before assessing drivers, it is important to specify what standards of skill and expertise are required for the role being undertaken. Other aspects should also be considered such as tolerance to the number of points held on a driving licence and the time-of-day driving will take place.


Training should be based on the result of the driver assessment. Priority should be given to those drivers who have been identified as facing the highest risk.  A screening process should be developed to determine which drivers require specific and targeted training. The initial assessment should be carried out during the induction process and at regular intervals during employment.

Training as a minimum should cover:

  • Awareness training about:
    • Road traffic laws.
    • Main causes of road crashes, risks.
    • Potential consequences for the driver.
    • The organisation’s policy on road safety.
  • Driving techniques:
    • Defensive driving.
    • For operating new/specific vehicles.

Employers should keep training records for each employee. This can help to register who is competent to control which vehicle and will make it easier to safely allocate tasks and keep track of abilities.

It’s also important to note that training should occur after any accidents as well in order to prevent history repeating itself. A road accident can be a traumatising experience for drivers, meaning they may well need post-accident rehabilitation before they get back behind the wheel with confidence.


Many driver risk factors are related to health: stress, sleepiness, distraction, unhealthy diet, consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs or medicine, smoking, lack of exercise, etc. Fatigue is an important risk factor and contributes to around 20% of road collisions.

Employers should ensure that all employees are mentally and physically fit to drive. A minimum ‘fitness to drive’ standard should be set with supporting procedures to ensure that these standards can be met.

It is a driver’s responsibility to refrain from driving if he is not fit to drive. He should inform his employer when he/she is temporarily under medication or unfit to drive because of other reasons. The employer is advised to include a statement within their policy to cover this aspect and ensure employees are made aware of the requirement to be fit to drive.

To reduce the risk of unfit drivers, employers could:

  • Check the employee meets the minimum eyesight requirements before starting with the business — and at the start of each driver assessment session;
  • Offer medical checks and encourage eyesight tests;
  • Set limits on acceptable driving durations and distances;
  • Propose alternatives for driving, like videoconferencing or alternative transport modes;
  • Ask drivers to take a short break every two hours and stress that sleepy drivers must stop in a safe place as soon as possible;
  • Manage stress by adjusting journey schedules, appointments and routes so that drivers can stay within the law;
  • Offer ‘overnight stays’ when on work trips;
  • Inform and educate employees about the risk of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and medicine;
  • Adopt a zero tolerance policy on alcohol and illicit drugs in the workplace, put it in writing, and ensure all employees are aware of the standards being set;
  • Give advice or training on vehicle ergonomics and how to ensure driving position is correct.

Company policy

Once all risks have been assessed, it recommended the employer writes a company Driver Safety policy. This policy sets out the organisation’s commitment to reduce road risk, collisions and injury and to comply with road safety legislation.

The policy should set out the responsibilities of both employees and management. It is recommended that employees sign the policy to ensure that it has been read and understood. It is important that the implementation of the policy is monitored for effectiveness.

Specific risks for the transport sector

A risk assessment should be done for every employee (or group of employees) who drives for work regularly. In the transport sector, however, professional drivers like bus, taxi and truck drivers are exposed to even more specific risks. This chapter will give a brief overview of the main risks and some recommendations to manage those risks.


Employees in the transport sector often work alone for most of the time. Lone work is proven to be a risk factor for violence and aggression. Bus and taxi drivers are often in direct contact with clients.  They may drive through isolated and dangerous areas where clients may be drunk or under the influence of drugs.

Drivers who have an elevated risk to be exposed to violence should be trained on how to deal with aggressive clients. Bus and Taxi drivers should be allowed to refuse a job if they feel unsafe. Devices like an on-board alarm should make it possible to contact colleagues or emergency services quickly. Obvious solutions such as in-vehicle cameras (and a sticker to inform clients that filming will take place) could prevent violence from clients.

Shift work/night work

Many drivers in the transport sector work long hours and often at night. This increases the risk of fatigue. Shift work is also a risk factor for an unhealthy lifestyle that might lead to cardiovascular diseases.

Drivers must at least comply with guidelines for driving times, breaks and rest periods. Employers should organise work in such a way that drivers have the time to take a break regularly.

Employers must also consider the health and wellbeing of their drivers and inform them of the risks of unhealthy food and a lack of physical exercise, suggesting ways of improving diet and fitting exercise into a busy day.

Manual handling of loads

Truck and Van drivers do not only transport goods from one place to another; very often they also have to load and unload goods. This is highly physical work and, if not properly managed, might lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), back problems, etc.

Bus drivers or taxi drivers often have to carry out manual handling of loads, e.g., when they lift luggage or help support people with disabilities.

To prevent risks from the manual handling of loads, the employer should provide manual handling training and appropriate supporting devices such as trolleys or wheelchair lifts or ramps. Training provides drivers with the opportunity to learn about the best way to undertake manual handling safely and protect their health.

Final thoughts

In summary, addressing the pressing challenges of road safety in the workplace is crucial, given the outlined statistics and legal obligations. Employers and employees must work together to prioritise safety when business is carried out on the road, and, where necessary, organisations should seek help in developing road safety policies and procedures.

As a leader in fleet safety and risk management for over two decades, Cardinus is dedicated to enhancing road safety standards. We provide an end-to-end fleet risk management solution, which includes an online driver training program, in-vehicle driver awareness training, driver assessor training, driving seminars, classroom training, fleet risk audits and consultancy, licence checking and much more. Contact us today to make the road a safer place to work.

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