Why Should the Private Sector Care about Roadway Safety?

Companies around the world are coming to the realization that roadway crashes are not simply a problem for governments.

Global data indicates that people who drive vehicles for their jobs represent between 25 percent to 33 percent of road crashes, and 36 percent of occupational deaths are due to crashes. Employers incur costs of USD $518 billion per year due to road traffic collisions.

Corporations have a vital role to play in reducing these numbers, with much research concluding that fleet or company drivers have an increased crash risk relative to that of drivers of privately registered vehicles.

In addition to loss of life, personal injury, and property damage, vehicle crashes may also represent disruptions to supply chains, whether it’s truckload of appliances damaged in a crash, or a small package delivery delayed by a fender bender at an intersection.

In fact, road crashes represent financial, legal, reputational, and social implications for companies. Businesses benefit from safer transportation via improved employee health and safety, asset protection, enhanced productivity and reduced healthcare costs, and reducing supply chain disruption.

One stumbling block to improvement is the term “auto accidents.” Road traffic fatalities and injuries are not accidents but are actually the predictable and often preventable result of inadequately designed or cared-for roads, poorly outfitted and maintained vehicles, weak laws, lax enforcement, and inadequate post-crash care.

More private sector organizations are deciding to overcome the concept of an “accident” and instead apply managerial muscle to reduce crashes and the resulting costs through coordinated efforts.

Private Sector Influence on Road Safety

The private sector can influence road safety from three perspectives:

Collaboration: As collaborators with the public sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in demonstration projects, businesses can advocate for greater resources; invest more in road safety via a global fund; mobilize support from others in private sector; support innovative and catalytic financing, such as social impact bonds, contributions on sales, and other approaches; and partner with local governments and civil society to enhance road safety.

Fleet Management: Managers of vehicle fleets traveling the world’s roads can purchase safer vehicles and invest in driving training and vehicle maintenance. Managers of large vehicle fleets can collect data to improve fleet safety performance. For example, companies use technology to allow truck drivers to manage their own schedules and availability. New technologies installed inside truck cabs to manage and track driver safety.

Industry Participation: Businesses in specific industries have unique opportunities to improve road safety. For example, companies should ensure that freight movement and driver schedules discourage dangerous behavior such as speeding, driving hours are not excessive, loads are stable, and vehicles are well maintained. Also, shippers should not impose unreasonable deadlines that may encourage unsafe driving by carriers.

Businesses can enhance the safety of their own drivers and vendor fleet operations, and high performers can share best practices with other companies and should consider adopting the ISO 39001 road safety management approach.

Company-wide processes to evaluate contractors from a health, environmental, and safety perspective, which includes the expectation of a documented motor vehicle safety process can help fleets set better standards for their own employees, contractors, and vendors.

Road traffic management systems for fleets are developed to reduce death and serious injuries related to road traffic crashes. It often uses formal policies that clarify safety standards, direct program management, establish roles and responsibilities, and ensure alignment with best practices.

Ultimately, the goal is to involve the private sector with governments, global bodies, and civil society to work together to save lives on the world’s roads.

To learn more about why the private sector should care about roadway safety, download our Expert Panel White Paper “Investing in Road Safety: A Global Imperative for the Private Sector.”