U.S. traffic crashes in 2013 cost employers $47.4 billion in direct expenses including medical care, liability, lost productivity and property damage, according to a new report from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.
The study, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, discusses how employers could control such costs by promoting safe driving habits, including seat belt usage and the elimination of speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving — whether or not employees are on the clock.
The report updates a 2002 study about the economic burden of traffic crashes on employers.
In 2013, more than 1.6 million workdays were lost because of traffic crashes, according to the new report. Nearly 90% of those lost days were attributed to crashes that occurred off the job. Such collisions involved employees or their dependents.
Speeding resulted in $8.4 billion in crash-related expenses, with distracted driving close behind at $8.2 billion. Driving under the influence of alcohol resulted in $6 billion in losses, and failure to buckle up a seat belt added $4.9 billion to the total.
“The consequences of traffic crashes are far reaching. It’s a domino effect that negatively impacts individuals, families, communities and businesses,” said Mark Rosekind, NHTSA administrator. “It is critical that individuals make safe choices. Driving behavior change in traffic safety is something NHTSA is exploring through a series of regional summits. We hope employers will join us and look at this report as a motivator to help save lives and prevent injuries on our roads.”
The report also found that employer-paid medical costs per employee injured in a crash were nearly double in on-the-job crashes where the employee wasn’t wearing a seat belt and were increased by a third for off-the-job crashes.
“When people think of the human and financial impact of traffic crashes on the workplace, they think about company car drivers,” said Jack Hanley, executive director of NETS. “This new report is an eye-opener. It shows that employers bear the crash costs of all their employees, not just their company drivers. Investing in road safety is good business and today’s report provides employers with a blueprint for developing business cases in support of employee road safety.”
Click here to download the full report.
NETS has introduced a free toolkit to help companies encourage employees to wear a seat belt. Coca-Cola Refreshments developed the toolkit at its Bismarck, N.D., site, where observed seat belt usage increased from a baseline 54% to 84% over a six-week period. Coca-Cola Refreshments is a unit of The Coca-Cola Co., a NETS board member.
All of the materials used are available in the toolkit and require minimal time and cost to conduct an all-employee site-wide seat belt usage improvement campaign, NETS said. The free toolkit is available at 2seconds2click.org. NETS also offers, at no charge, “The Comprehensive Guide to Road Safety” for employers with occupational drivers. The guide is available on the group’s website at trafficsafety.org.