Legally, employers are not responsible for their staff’s daily commute. It isn’t part of an employer’s duty of care. However there is a sound business argument for taking an interest – because staff who miss work following a commuting accident are missed just as much as those who are absent as following an incident at work.
Statistics recently compiled by AA DriveTech underline the argument for thinking in this way: more employees are killed while commuting to work, whether drivers, riders or pedal cyclists, than while on company business.
For employers wanting to tackle this problem, the questions are numerous. How much responsibility should we take? How much intervention can we make into journeys where we have no legal obligations? Can we exercise any degree of control over vehicles that we don’t own that are being used outside normal working hours?
As ever, accurate information is the key to good management decisions and the first step is to gather data. There is probably very little you can do surrounding public transport but other commuters could be asked questions such as how far they travel, their mode of transport, the kind of routes they take, accidents in which they may have been involved, and whether their car, motorcycle or bicycle is regularly serviced. All of this can be used to help paint a picture of risks and hazards.
When it comes to preventative measures, your ideas can be straightforward. In many areas of fleet risk management, modest interventions are often effective and there is no reason to think that commuting is any different.
For example, AA DriveTech identify three periods when there are differing commuter dangers. From 4.30-7.00am, most accidents tend to happen on bends and rural roads; from 7.00-9.00am, at T junctions and urban roads; while from 4.00pm-6.30pm, 30mph zones are accident hotspots. Simply providing drivers with this information may be useful.
Another idea is to automatically issue texts that remind commuters to take care on their way to work or home, with a message tailored to the time of year or current weather conditions. This is, of course, an area where fleet software can be used effectively to both carry out actions and monitor their impact.
At Chevin, our feeling is that commuting accidents is an area that is too important to ignore, and it is one that we have heard mentioned by a small but increasing number of fleet managers. Over time, we plan to build up a bank of best practice ideas that can be shared – and which we will include in a future blog.