The costs for businesses when their employees are involved in car accidents on and off the job are staggering, at $47.4 billion a year, according to a new study.
The “Cost of Vehicle Crashes to Employers – 2015” study, by the Network for Employers for Traffic Safety, looked at how much car crashes cost businesses in terms of workplace disruption and liability costs. While the costs to companies when their workers are in on-the-job automobile accidents are easily measured, the costs to businesses when their employees miss work after accidents while off the job are almost as steep.
Employers end up paying in some way for injuries to their employees on and off the job, and to their dependents. They also pay for injuries caused to third parties who are injured when an employee is involved in an accident while driving on the job.
In 2013, motor vehicle crashes killed 1,620 people and injured an estimated 293,000 while they were working, the study found. More than half of the injuries forced people to miss work.
The report, funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, found that:
- Costs totaling $20.6 billion were due to property damage, workplace disruption and liability costs.
- Another $26.8 billion in costs to employers were due to health-related fringe benefits, including sick leave, health insurance and insurance covering work losses. They cover contributions to workers’ compensation
insurance, health insurance, sick leave, Social Security disability insurance, life insurance, and private disability insurance, as well as insurance administration and overhead.
- Of those costs, fringe benefit costs of off-the-job crash injuries were $21.8 billion, accounting for 81% of the health-related fringe benefit bill.
- The fringe benefits payments were split roughly equally between health care expenses and wage replacement, such as sick leave and life insurance, according to the report.
- On- and off-the-job motor vehicle crashes involving employees or their dependents cost employers more than 1.6 million lost work days in 2013, and 90% happened outside of work, according to the analysis.
The top four causes of the accidents were speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, and not wearing a seat belt.
What can you do?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has the following tips for employers:
- If you have a fleet, implement a fleet driver safety program and maintain complete and accurate records of workers’ driving performance.
- Check driving records of prospective employees and conduct periodic rechecks after hiring.
- Ask your workers to periodically provide documentation of their insurance and to report any suspensions, revocations and convictions for vehicle-related offenses.
- Establish schedules that allow drivers to obey speed limits and follow hours-of-service regulations where they apply.
- Require newly hired workers to attend performance-based defensive driving courses, with mandatory refresher training at regular intervals.
- Implement a driver safety program that emphasizes the link between driver safety at work and driver safety at home. Safe driving in the workplace benefits the worker’s family by reducing the risk of fatality or disabling injury. In addition, lessons learned on the job can increase workers’ awareness of the importance of safe driving outside of work hours.
- In your training emphasize the need for wearing a seatbelt at all times.
- Have a zero-tolerance policy for talking on the phone and texting while driving, both of which are already against the law in most states. Require that any employee who needs to make a call, pull over first when it’s safe to do so, regardless of whether they have a hands-free unit.