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Driving for Better Business campaign aims to cut work related injury rates on UK roads

24 July 2007

Choosing ESC is a simple and vital step for business, says RoadSafe.

RoadSafe has unveiled the latest government - backed road safety scheme: “Driving for Better Business”. This initiative is part of the Department for Transport’s “Driving for Work Business Champions Outreach Programme” aimed at reducing the number of deaths and injuries on the road, whilst driving on business.

The programme is developing a network of champions, made up of employers from the public, private and voluntary sectors, supporting them in taking the message to industry. Employers will be encouraged to embrace Health and Safety Legislation not only in the workplace, but also whilst driving during working hours. This comes after worrying statistics which show that everyday more than 150 vehicles are involved in an accident on work-related journeys.

One simple step to make company cars and vans safer says RoadSafe, would be for fleet managers and specifiers to require all new vehicles to be fitted with stability control. RoadSafe is a member of the pan European eSafetyAware initiative, which is behind the “Choose ESC!” campaign and according to RoadSafe fitment of ESC (Electronic Stability Control) could reduce crashes by forty per cent.

The campaign, which will run from December this year until mid-2009, initially focuses on van drivers, and the rapidly-expanding van fleet and home delivery markets. There are more than 320,000 sub-3.5 tonne vans registered annually, and with a net increase of 170,000 per annum, this means that dangers on the road are also escalating. Although the campaign is equally appropriate for company car drivers and employees driving on business.

Adrian Walsh , RoadSafe Director, explains: “It is vitally important that employers manage those who drive on company business well. They need good guidance and sensible rules to follow. Simply assuming that being in possession of a driving licence is a guarantee of ability is not enough. Backing this up by providing vehicles fitted with ESC will make a real difference.2

Commenting on the Business Champions programme he added: ”Our Business Champions strategy will result in a substantial increase in the number of companies that adopt effective work-related road safety policies.”

Although the new programme is only coming into effect this year, there has already been a significant investment by companies to improve safety measures amongst their workforce, who are regularly driving for work. At a recent British Chambers of Commerce Conference, Douglas Alexander MP, the former Secretary of State for Transport paid tribute to business leaders who had introduced internal codes of good practice for driving for work.

He said to delegates: “You all have a duty of care. Those companies which have good schemes in place can and should take the story to others.” Explaining the DfT funded Driving for Better Business programme he added: “Business and government are working together to identify best practice and to help to cascade it to others.”

It is estimated that 150 road deaths and serious injuries each week involve someone at work. That means an estimated one third of all crashes involves somebody who was at work at the time - that's a tragic waste of about 1,000 lives every year.

In the last 10 years, the number of vans in the UK has increased by around one third and van traffic by 40%. There are now three million vans on Britain 's roads, and the annual volume of new registrations is around 320,000. The home delivery sector in particular has seen phenomenal growth recently due to internet shopping demands. New van drivers are being recruited to accommodate this growth - for many of these driving for work is a secondary requirement to their core task.

The Driving for Better Business programme is managed by RoadSafe on behalf of the Department for Transport, and will run alongside the THINK! road safety Driving for Work campaign. www.dft.gov.uk/drivingforwork

RoadSafe works closely with The Fleet Safety Association to deliver the Driving for Better Business programme. www.fleetsafetyassociation.co.uk

4,000 road traffic deaths could be avoided if all cars in Europe were equipped with Electronic Stability Control says ‘ChooseESC!’ campaign. www.chooseesc.eu

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