New research, conducted by UCL and Agilysis on behalf of Roadsafe and Highways for England, found more deaths occur from at-work road trips than at the workplace. The study revealed one in three (29%) of all road fatalities and more than one in five (21%) of all casualties occur in driving-for-work collisions.
These stats are impactful when the dangers posed by industries such as construction, farming and mining are often thought of as a bigger risk to life than driving.
The study, which focuses on the van, company car, and ‘grey fleet’ sector, reveals that most of the victims are non-working drivers. It is entitled ‘Driving for work - a strategic review of risks associated with cars and light vans, implications for policy and practice.’
In 2018, it shows that 520 people died in collisions involving a driver or rider driving for work, but only 12% (63) of them were working drivers or riders.
5% (25) of the fatalities were passengers of a driver driving for work, while 83% (432) of those killed were non-working road-users.
Stuart Lovatt, head of strategic safety at Highways England, said: “This report will support the objectives of our Driving for Better Business Programme which aims to raise awareness of work-related road risk to business leaders and their drivers”.
The report estimates that up to 39% of pedestrian fatalities in the UK were in collision with a ‘working’ driver, causing up to 11 pedestrian deaths a month.
Professor Nicola Christie, from UCL Transport Studies, said: “Our research shows that people who drive for work pose a serious risk to others, especially pedestrians.
“This is a worrying situation because of the rise in van traffic and last mile deliveries as we increasingly shop online, particularly since the start of the pandemic.
“There is a clear role for the Government to lead on initiatives to bring the management of risk to the attention of employers and the self-employed and reduce this burden to individuals and society”.
The study adds that a lack of attention to work-related road safety by policymakers, warning that despite a rapid increase in vans and people working in the gig economy, this sector falls outside the strict regulations governing other occupational drivers.
Nick Starling, chair of the Transport Safety Commission Work Related Road Safety Forum, explains: “Vans and drivers are not subject to the same strict regulation of driver training, drivers’ hours restrictions and roadworthiness testing as HGVs and buses/coaches, while the number of vans on the road and people working in the gig economy continues to rise.
“This report highlights the importance of stakeholders across all sectors working together to understand and manage the risk better”.
On average, the study shows that vans are being driven 12,800 miles a year, accounting for 15.4% all vehicle mileage. Two in 10 of these journeys occur on minor urban roads.
The study calls for further investigation into who is driving for work, the type of vehicles used, the type of roads used, who is being injured, plus the numbers working in transport in the gig economy, stating that strategic stakeholders must work together to drive down the death toll.
It also calls for new links between coroners’ data and crash data to improve analysis and transparency of work-related crashes.