Road Safety Matters

 

Why road safety matters

Driving may be the most hazardous thing employees do on the job. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of traumatic work-related death in BC. Yet nearly all crashes can be prevented. Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to help ensure employee safety.


Driving for work is dangerous

Anyone who drives for work full time, part time, or only occasionally is at risk of being injured or killed in a crash. It’s true whether they use their employer’s vehicle or their own personal vehicle. Crashes kill more employees in BC than any other traumatic work-related cause. 

That’s why road safety matters to organizations of every size. It demands to be a priority in your workplace safety program. It only takes one crash to change lives forever. Every employee deserves to go home safe at the end of their shift.

Vehicles are workplaces

Any vehicle used for work in BC is a workplace. This means, as an employer, you are legally responsible for ensuring the safety of:

  • Your employees whenever they are driving for work purposes
  • Your employees who are passengers in vehicles being used for work
  • Contractors and employees of other companies who are passengers in vehicles being used for work

If you’re an employer, supervisor, or driver, you need to know your responsibilities. Having and following a road safety plan can help reduce driving risks and prevent crashes. Be sure to include winter driving in your safety plan.

Almost any employee can be a driver

“Driver” doesn’t have to be part of a job title for an employee to be considered a work driver. Delivery, courier, and transit drivers are obvious examples of work drivers. Less obvious examples include landscapers and home health care workers. They spend time driving between clients. Even office workers can be work drivers when they run errands for their employer.

In fact, many jobs require some form of work-related driving – from real estate agents shuttling clients between homes to first responders rushing to crash sites. And work drivers may be driving their employer’s vehicle or their own. They face risks every time they’re behind the wheel.

The more time drivers spend on the road, the more they are at risk. Driving in unfamiliar places or in an unfamiliar vehicle are common risk factors.

If you drive as part of your job, review our Driving for Work Tool Kit and other resources to learn more about keeping yourself safe.

High-risk sectors

Anyone who drives for work risks being involved in a crash. Drivers in some sectors are, however, at higher risk than others due to the amount of time they spend on the road. The highest risk sectors for work driving in BC are:

  • Transportation (trucking, commercial bus and shuttle, public transit, courier and delivery)
  • Healthcare (community health support services, pre-hospital emergency)
  • Local government (municipal and related operations)
  • Forestry

You have responsibilities

Employers with employees who drive for work need to address road safety in their health and safety program. This applies when employees drive full time, part time, or only occasionally. Any work-related driving the employer directs them to do counts.

Work-related driving

Work-related driving is any driving an employee does in the course of their employment. The driving can be for a few minutes, once a week, or full time, and everything in between. It doesn’t matter whether they use a company vehicle or a personal one.

Commuting from home to the primary work location, such as an office, generally isn’t considered work-related driving.

Employer responsibilities
Supervisor responsibilities
Employee rights and responsibilities

WorkSafeBC requirements

Organizations in BC that have employees who drive for work need to meet occupational health and safety requirements. WorkSafeBC regulates workplaces.

The Workers Compensation Act assigns health and safety responsibilities to employers, supervisors, and employees. The related Occupational Health and Safety Regulation contains requirements for employee health and safety.

Motor Vehicle Act requirements

Organizations that employ work drivers in BC also need to know the requirements in the provincial Motor Vehicle Act and Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. Drivers are required to follow these laws. Employers and supervisors are expected to ensure their employees obey the rules of the road.

The Act includes requirements around vehicle registration and insurance, driver licensing and driving practices, offences and enforcement, etc.

The Regulations provide greater depth. They explain the requirements for lights, brakes, steering, and other vehicle components. They also cover vehicle inspection and maintenance, cargo securement, driver training, safety equipment, etc.

The Regulations also contain the Safety Code for commercial operators. It applies to trucks and truck and trailer combinations with a licenced gross vehicle weight of 5,000 kg or more, buses, and commercial vehicles operating under the Passenger Transportation Act.

Visit BC Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement for a practical review of the Safety Code’s requirements. You can also complete the National Safety Code for Carriers course.

Commercial vehicle requirements

In addition to the Motor Vehicle Act regulations, other laws apply to owners and operators of commercial vehicles.

Commercial Transport Act and Commercial Transport Regulation
Passenger Transportation Act and Passenger Transportation Regulation

Other requirements

Other provincial and federal laws may apply to work-related driving in BC. They apply to:

Industrial roads
Federally regulated workplaces
Movement of dangerous goods
Criminal conduct

Road safety benefits everyone

Road safety is smart business. It helps protect an organization’s best assets: its people. It helps employers meet their legal obligations. And, it can have a significant impact on workplace culture and the bottom line.

People injured in work-related crashes are off the job longer. Claims costs for work-related crashes are substantially higher. Productivity and morale can go down while these expenses go up. Preventing crashes helps avoid these consequences. Use our Motor Vehicle Incident Cost Calculator to estimate how much money your organization can save by investing in road safety.

Preventing crashes creates a return on investment in other ways too. It can result in lower insurance and WorkSafeBC premiums and fewer repair bills. It can help organizations avoid staff shortages by keeping employees healthy and at work. A strong safety record shows employees their employer cares about their well-being, which can help attract and retain staff.

Road safety can also help preserve an organization’s reputation. Crashes can create negative publicity for the organization.

Commercial carriers may see additional benefits from an effective road safety program. Regular vehicle inspections, for example, can help identify unsafe equipment or conditions before they contribute to a crash.

Benefits for drivers

Road safety helps protect everyone who uses the road: drivers, passengers, roadside workers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Driving for work can be dangerous, no matter how much experience an employee has or how much time is spent behind the wheel. Making a 10-minute trip between client homes, or spending 8 hours making deliveries, both carry risk.

The major benefit to drivers of preventing crashes is avoiding significant and long-lasting personal costs resulting from injury or death.

There are also financial benefits to safe driving, largely from avoiding crash consequences. People injured in work-related crashes are off the job longer and drivers may be fined and given penalty points. As a result, they could lose their licence and be unable to do the driving they were hired to do.

People who drive their own vehicle for work often have to take time off work after a crash. They don’t get paid while meeting with an insurance adjuster, taking the vehicle to a repair shop, and then picking it up.


Most crashes are preventable

Driver behaviour is a major contributing factor to vehicle crashes in BC. So are vehicle, road, weather, and traffic conditions.

To help reduce the chances of drivers getting injured on the job, we recommend you focus your initial road safety planning on the following areas. They’re the top contributing factors over the last 10 years for all police-reported fatality, injury, and vehicle crashes.

Contributing factor

What this includes

1. Speeding

  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Driving too fast for the conditions

2. Distracted driving/inattention

  • Using a phone
  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Rubbernecking

3. Impaired driving

  • Use of alcohol or drugs (prescription, non-prescription, and illegal)
  • Fatigue
  • Health conditions

4. Driver error/confusion

  • Backing up unsafely
  • Failing to signal
  • Improper passing
  • Driving on wrong side of the road
  • Improper turning
  • Failure to secure stopped vehicle

5. Aggressive driving

  • Cutting in
  • Failing to yield right-of-way
  • Following too closely
  • Ignoring traffic control device, flag person

6. Road and weather conditions

  • Icy, snowy, slushy or wet roads
  • Glare from sunlight
  • Fog, sleet, rain, snow

7. Medical issue

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Illness
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Physical disability

8. Road issue

  • Obstruction/debris
  • Surface defects
  • Poor worksite/construction traffic control
  • Road/intersection design
  • Traffic control device not working properly

9. Vehicle issue

  • Accelerator, brakes, headlights, or turn signals not working properly
  • Steering, tire, or tow hitch failure
  • Window defect or obstruction
  • Suspension defect
  • Engine failure

10. Collision with wildlife

  • Domestic animals
  • Wild animals

Many other driving hazards play a role in crashes, of course. Your goal should be to identify the highest risks your drivers face on the road and address them in your road safety plan.


Crash statistics

The numbers are an important part of the story of work-related crashes in BC. But there’s more to it.

Every WorkSafeBC motor vehicle crash claim has a human cost.  Every death or injury touches families, friends, co-workers, and communities.

Here are some sobering statistics about work-related crashes in BC, from WorkSafeBC claims data (2018—2022).

1/3 of traumatic workplace deaths in BC are due to motor vehicle crashes.

Each year, work-related vehicle crashes result in nearly 20 deaths and more than 1,500 workers injured and off work.

2022 Motor Vehicle Crashes

Off work

People injured in work-related crashes were off work 35% longer than people who suffered injuries at work for other reasons.

Claim cost

The average cost of a motor vehicle crash claim was 85% higher than the cost of an average WorksafeBC claim ($57,450 vs $31,074).

Time-loss claims

Injuries caused by work-related crashes made up 3% of all time-loss claims, but accounted for 5.9% of total time-loss claims costs.


Resources

Guide

Supervisor Occupational Road Safety Responsibilities Guide

Supervisors have health and safety responsibilities for employees when they drive for work. Use this guide to understand what you need to do, including recommended supervisory practices.
Guide

Employee Occupational Road Safety Responsibilities Guide

Employees have safety responsibilities when they drive for work full-time, part-time, or occasionally. Use this guide to understand your rights and responsibilities. They apply even if you use your own vehicle for work.
Tool Kit

Investigating Crashes

When your employee has a motor vehicle incident or near-miss, there is much to learn. Learn how to report, investigate, and prevent these incidents at work.
Tailgate Meeting Guide

Explaining Employee Road Safety Responsibilities

Use this guide to lead a discussion with employees about their road safety responsibilities when driving for work.
Webinar

Road Safety 101 for Small Businesses

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of traumatic workplace fatalities in BC. Learn how to assess drivers and manage driving risks through trip planning, even if you have limited resources.
Webinar

Building and Sustaining Best Road Safety Practices

Creating and implementing a road safety program can help save lives and prevent injuries. Use these tips to develop an effective program for organizations of any size.
Webinar

Improving Safety for Employees Who Drive Their Own Vehicles for Work

Employers have responsibilities to ensure the safety of employees who drive a company vehicle or a personal vehicle for work. Learn practical tips for meeting your responsibilities.
Webinar

Keeping Your Employees Safe During Winter Driving

Employers and supervisors have legal responsibilities for the safety of their staff. Review this 1-hour webinar for practical tips for organizations of all sizes.
Online Course

WorkSafeBC’s Road Safety Requirements: A Guide for Employers and Supervisors Online Course

Get information and tips to help you understand and meet your legal responsibilities for the safety of your employees who drive for work.
Online Course

Supervising Employees Who Drive for Work Online Course

Get practical techniques, tools, and resources you can apply to the unique challenge of supervising employees when they’re behind the wheel.
Online Course

Assessing and Improving Employee Driving Skills Online Course

Use practical tools to help you rate employee driving skills and behaviours. You’ll also get tips on helping drivers develop the competencies they need for the driving they do.
Online Course

Winter Driving Safety for Employers and Supervisors Online Course

Learn how to plan, implement, and monitor a winter driving safety program in your organization using Shift into Winter resources, including policy and procedures templates.
Handout

Employee Use of Personal Vehicles Q&A

Do your employees use personal vehicles for work? Review these questions and answers to better understand some of the issues this common practice creates.