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OPINION – Survey shows that what Fraser Valley drivers don’t know can hurt them

Fraser Valley –  A survey conducted by Road Safety at Work shows many people who drive as part of their job have misconceptions about motor vehicle crashes – and their causes – on B.C.’s roads. “Learning the facts can help prevent injuries and even save their lives,” says Louise Yako, program director for Road Safety at Work.

“Most motor vehicle crashes are preventable,” she says, yet roughly 84 per cent of people who drive at work believe they can’t be avoided, according to the survey. “Careful planning, training, proper vehicle maintenance, and other proactive measures can reduce the risk and save lives,” says Yako.

B.C. has an estimated 2.5 million workers and every day many of them drive at work. In the Fraser Valley they range from truck and delivery drivers to community health care workers and sales reps who visit clients to office staff doing work errands, and many others.

Speeding is one of the common contributing factors to road crashes. Yet only 14 per cent of people who drive on the job believe speeding is dangerous, the survey shows. “Speed limits are set for optimal driving conditions,” explains Yako. “When the weather is poor, or people are driving an unfamiliar vehicle or taking a new route, it may be safer to drive slower.”

Distracted driving is another major contributing factor to crashes, yet the majority of survey respondents are quick to blame other drivers for making driving a risky activity. “Pay attention and avoid distractions like your phone,” Yako says. “When you’re behind the wheel, driving requires your full concentration. Put the phone away.”

There’s also a big disconnect between B.C. employers and their employees who drive at work when it comes to the risks of driving, the survey finds.

Only 11 per cent of employers believe driving is dangerous, compared with 26 per cent of drivers. “Many employers believe this because their workers only drive occasionally, do short trips, or only drive on quiet roads,” says Yako. “But crashes happen and people get injured regardless of frequency of driving or length of trips.

“Employer and driver education is key to reducing the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities,” she adds. “RoadSafetyAtWork.ca offers a variety of practical free tools that can be used by anyone who drives for work and by employers and supervisors at organizations of any size.”

Road Safety at Work is a WorkSafeBC-funded initiative aimed at eliminating work-related motor vehicle crashes, deaths, and injuries in the province. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of traumatic workplace deaths in B.C.

Vehicles used during employment are workplaces and employers are legally responsible for the safety of their workers when they drive on the job. “Whether employees drive regularly or only occasionally, and use a company or a personal vehicle, employers are responsible,” Yako notes.

The survey results are particularly timely as fall and winter approaches. The chances of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash double during the winter driving season. It’s illegal to drive without winter tires or chains between October and April on most B.C. highways.

For more information visit RoadSafetyAtWork.ca.

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