Why road safety matters
- Why road safety matters
- Driving for work is dangerous
- You have responsibilities
- Road safety benefits everyone
- Most crashes are preventable
- Crash statistics
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 employers are legally responsible for ensuring the safety of:
- Employees who drive for work at any time during their shift
- Employees and others who are passengers in vehicles used for work
- Employees who work in roadside Cone Zones
- Others who may be impacted by the actions of an employee
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.
Drivers in some sectors are 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:
- Delivery and courier
- Health care (nurse aides, patient services, orderlies, paramedics)
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 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.
Vehicles used for work purposes in BC are workplaces. As an employer, you’re responsible for the health and safety of your employees. This includes when they drive or ride in a vehicle for any work-related reason. Road safety best practices can help you meet your legal responsibilities.
Meeting WorkSafeBC responsibilities
Whether your organization is large or small, WorkSafeBC assigns specific health and safety roles, rights, and responsibilities in your workplace. The following practices can help keep your employees safe, and to help fulfill your road safety responsibilities:
- Build and implement a road safety plan that addresses the driving-related risks your employees encounter. Include policies, procedures, and practices that effectively minimize exposure to hazards and reduce associated risks.
- Tell employees about the hazards they may encounter and ask them to help identify hazards and resolve them.
- Regularly assess road safety risks.
- Check employee driver’s license and record (abstract).
- Assess employee driving abilities and provide the orientation, training, and supervision that will help them build the skills they need to drive safely.
- Make sure work vehicles are properly selected.
- Conduct regular vehicle inspections and maintenance. Fix problems reported by your employees.
- Investigate vehicle crashes and near misses.
- Ensure your employees know their health and safety rights and responsibilities.
You can delegate responsibilities to supervisors but you remain accountable.
Use of employee-owned vehicles
You may have employees who drive their own vehicles for work. You’re still responsible for their safety. The vehicle can be owned, leased, rented, or borrowed by the employee.
Have the same rules and expectations for employee safety regardless of who owns the vehicle.
In addition, regularly ask employees for records showing that their personal vehicle is appropriately insured, inspected, and maintained.
Meeting Motor Vehicle Act requirements
You may have responsibilities under both the Motor Vehicle Act and the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.
The Act and Regulations make the owner of a vehicle responsible for appropriately registering, insuring, equipping, and maintaining the vehicle. For example, the owner needs to ensure that the brakes work. If you own the vehicle, this responsibility falls on you. If an employee owns the vehicle, it’s their responsibility.
The Commercial Transport Procedures Manual explains inspection requirements you need to follow for taxis, buses, and other commercial vehicles. Review the Carrier Safety Guide to understand Safety Code requirements for safety certificates, hours of service, log books, trip inspections, and general road safety.
For more information, review our Employer’s Occupational Road Safety Responsibilities Guide (PDF 183KB).
A supervisor is anyone who instructs, directs, and controls employees. Your job title doesn’t matter. If you meet this definition, you’re got supervisory responsibilities.
Your broad supervisory duties for road safety include:
- Ensuring the health and safety of employees under your supervision
- Being knowledgeable about the regulations that apply to the work driving you supervise
- Making sure employees are aware of known and reasonably foreseeable hazards
- Ensuring employees comply with the regulations and your organization’s policies and procedures
Your employer can designate other health and safety duties to you and to other employees. The employer is still accountable for them.
For example, your employer may direct you to make sure drivers have the skills and training they need to safely drive for work. You need to understand the driving employees do, find out what driving skills employees have, and take steps to provide the training they need. Employees then have a responsibility to complete the training, and develop and apply necessary driving skills.
Cooperatively sharing safety responsibilities gives everyone a stake in road safety and contributes to safer workplaces.
Meeting WorkSafeBC responsibilities
Ensuring drivers follow best road safety practices can help you fulfill your obligations, and help employees make it safely through the day. Review our Supervisor’s Occupational Road Safety Responsibilities Guide (PDF 204KB).
WorkSafeBC assigns you health and safety rights and responsibilities if you drive or ride in a work vehicle as part of your job. They apply whether you drive full time, part time, or just occasionally.
You have the right to:
- Know about driving-related hazards you may encounter
- Participate in health and safety activities in the workplace
- Refuse unsafe work (this is also a legal obligation)
Your responsibilities include:
- Taking reasonable care to protect yourself and others who may be affected by your work
- Knowing and following safety regulations, traffic laws, and your organization’s safe work procedures
- Being alert to driving-related hazards and reporting them to your supervisor or employer
- Never working under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if you’re overly tired
- Properly using the required protective clothing and equipment
Your shared responsibilities
Staying safe at work is a collaboration between you, your employer, and your supervisor. Your employer, for example, has a duty to make you aware of driving-related hazards, and you have a duty to follow the employer’s direction for dealing with those hazards.
When you both live up to your safety responsibilities, you have a better chance of going home safe at the end of your shift.
You also need to report vehicle issues that could affect your driving safety. Your employer or supervisor has a responsibility to receive and review your reports. They also need to make sure necessary repairs are done before allowing the vehicle to be used for work.
Using your vehicle for work
When you use your own vehicle, you have some additional responsibilities. These include:
- Ensuring the vehicle is appropriately registered, insured, operated, and maintained
- Keeping records of insurance, inspection, and maintenance and providing them to your employer when asked
The vehicle is considered yours if you own or lease it and are named on the registration and insurance, or if you have borrowed it. You’re responsible for any traffic violations that occur when you’re driving your own vehicle.
Meeting your safety responsibilities
Following best practices, driving laws, and your organization’s road safety policies can help you fulfill your obligations. We recommend you review our Employee’s Occupational Road Safety Responsibilities Guide (PDF 136KB) and do the following:
- Report unsafe or harmful conditions such as unsafe vehicles, poor road conditions, risky driving behaviours, etc.
- Always focus on driving. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Don’t call or text while at the wheel, even at red lights.
- Avoid high-risk driving (speeding, tailgating, etc.).
- Inspect the vehicle before the start of each shift. Report any issues to your supervisor or employer.
- Make any adjustments, such as shifting your seat or mirrors, before the vehicle is used.
- Keep the vehicle free of anything that could interfere with driving, such as a loose water bottle.
- Keep records of inspections, maintenance, and repairs if you use your personal vehicle for work.
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.
Commercial vehicle requirements
In addition to the Motor Vehicle Act regulations, other laws apply to owners and operators of commercial vehicles.
These requirements apply to owners and operators of commercial vehicles that are designed to carry a load such as goods, freight, people, etc. Vehicles include:
- Fire trucks
- Taxis, limousines
- Tow trucks
- Trucks with an attached delivery body
- Truck and trailer combinations
- Some road-building machines
- Some pickups and vans
Review the Commercial Transport Procedures Manual, related bulletins, and circulars for information on meeting these responsibilities.
This Act and its associated regulations apply to owners and operators of commercial passenger vehicles such as taxis, limousines, and some buses. They also govern operations of vehicles used for ride-hailing services.
Review the rules, regulations, and licensing of commercial passenger transportation in BC for information on meeting these responsibilities. You can also visit Transportation Network Services and review rules for commercial ride-hail and taxis.
Other provincial and federal laws may apply to work-related driving in BC. They apply to:
The provincial Industrial Roads Act and Regulations apply to owners and drivers when vehicles travel roads constructed on certain Crown or private lands. If the roads are used primarily for transporting natural resources, machinery, materials, or personnel, the laws apply.
The Act deals with administrative and road maintenance matters, as well as driver licencing and vehicle maintenance when operating on industrial roads. The Regulations explain requirements around vehicle inspections, record keeping, reporting unsafe conditions, maintenance, lights, and driver licensing.
The Canada Labour Code applies to employers with operations crossing one or more provincial boundaries. Federally-regulated employers include:
- Chartered banks
- International shipping
- Interprovincial pipeline, rail, trucking
- Postal service
Many of the requirements in the Code are similar to those in the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. They describe employer responsibilities to ensure employee health and safety. They also cover hazard identification, training, supervision, personal protective equipment, first aid, investigations, and other matters. The Code states that vehicles used for work must meet prescribed ergonomic standards.
Federal and provincial laws apply when transporting dangerous goods in commercial or personal vehicles in BC.
The federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations describe requirements for transporting substances or materials that are dangerous to life, health, property, or the environment. This includes substances that are explosive, flammable, combustible or poisonous, compressed gases, nuclear substances, or organisms.
The BC Transport of Dangerous Goods Act applies when transporting any product, substance, or organism listed in the provincial Regulation.
Review responsibilities for transporting dangerous goods.
The federal Criminal Code has potential implications for employers and supervisors.
Section 217.1 explains that any person who has the authority to direct how someone does their work has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent any resulting bodily harm. Other sections address the criminal liability organizations and their representatives may have for negligence and other offences.
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.
What this includes
2. Distracted driving/inattention
4. Driver error/confusion
6. Road and weather conditions
7. Medical issue
8. Road issue
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.
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 (2017—2021).
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 1,400 workers injured and off work.
2020 Motor Vehicle Crashes
People injured in work-related crashes were off work almost 30% longer than people who suffered injuries at work for other reasons.
The average cost of a motor vehicle crash claim was 86% higher than the cost of an average WorksafeBC claim ($54,168 vs $29,907).
Injuries caused by work-related crashes made up 2.5% of all time-loss claims, but accounted for 4.7% of total time-loss claims costs.