Amid the recent good news on Ireland's Road Safety Performance, Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the Road Safety Authority's (RSA) cautioned "the "low-hanging fruit" has been taken" and "the strategy to reduce annual road deaths to 124 or less by 2020 is unlikely to be met".
Saturday 15th June was the 10th anniversary of the launch of the RSA's Driving for Work - A Guide for Employers. Since 2008, an estimated 500 lives have been lost - and at least 10,000 people have been injured - as a result of someone driving for work. Unfortunately, as a contributor to this guide, I still see many employers either unaware of it or who fail to put into practice simple, low-investment measures to avoid crashes, harm and financial loss.
While individuals who drive are rightly challenged to behave responsibly, we know culture strongly influences behaviour too. Here some myths prevent progress.
At one level, crashes are the source of big business for many market players, such as insurance, legal and accident management providers. It is naive to expect these firms to promote risk management voluntarily.
Secondly, despite research showing that employers can proactively reduce collisions, there is little evidence that this is happening. For example, in 2018, Health and Safety Authority (HSA) inspectors found that 59% of workplaces audited didn't even have a driving for work risk assessment - worse still, this audit covered the more regulated transport and logistics sector.
Thirdly, crash avoidance is smart business not a cost, when employers employ simple, effective and legally required nudges to avoid major uninsured losses.
If policymakers and we as citizens truly want fewer road deaths, increasing corporate apathy needs to be called out. Similarly, insurance providers must incentivise and reward proactive motor risk management - that will save businesses money and save lives. As we have seen so far this year, there is no guarantee that Irish road fatalities will just fall. In 2029, what carnage will we see in the rear-view mirror? The future of our loved ones and colleagues is very much in our hands. The human and financial costs of at-work crashes are largely preventable and should be unacceptable.
2. RSA Driving for Work - A Guide for Employers - Acknowledgements page 17
3. RSA driving for work fatalities article in Irish Times
4. Road fatalities table Wikipedia
5. Injuries reported by An Garda Siochana via Road Safety Authority in 2015 (the most recent year of validated statistics) totalled 5,676. By contrast, the PSNI reported significantly more that year - 9,737 injuries. The most recent figures (for 2018) show 55 road fatalities in NI, which is approximately one third of the 146 provisionally reported by the RSA for the Republic. For some reason, it would seem from the statistics above, that road users are proportionately much less likely to be injured in the Republic of Ireland than in Northern Ireland.
6. HSA 2018 Inspections - see slide #11
7. Crashes are big business - article in Irish Independent