Professional drivers “engage in more dangerous driving behaviours” — RSA

Professional drivers are sometimes seen as having a higher standard of driving, but the Road Safety Authority said today that, as a group, they are more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviours.

The Road Safety Authority and the Health and Safety Authority highlighted today that employers are obliged by law to manage the risks when employees drive for work.

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Overall, the number of people killed on Irish roads is at the highest level in six years with 168 deaths recorded up to 9am yesterday morning, which is 35 more than during the same period in 2022. It said that around 7 in 10 fatalities this year have occurred on rural roads.

The authority’s analysis of collision data shows that between 2018 and 2022 8% of drivers killed and 12% of drivers seriously injured were driving for work.

“Driving for work can also pose risks to fellow workers and vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. The RSA’s analysis also revealed that between 2018 and 2022, 23% of drivers involved in fatal collisions were driving for work and 19% of drivers involved in serious injury collisions were driving for work,” an RSA statement said today.

The RSA said: “Survey research from the RSA in 2021 found that those who drive for work are more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviours including speeding, drink-driving, driving while fatigued and not wearing a seatbelt.”

A study of mobile device usage by drivers of various vehicle types, conducted in 2022, found that 9% of HGV drivers observed were using their mobile phone while driving.

The authority also highlighted a 2021 observational study which found that 75% of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGVs) drivers exceeded the speed limit on 100km/h roads where the speed limit for HGVs is 80km/h, and almost 30% exceeded the motorway limit where the speed limit for HGVs is 90km/h.

The statement was issued as the authorities held a webinar addressing employers, employees and those who are self-employed.

Velma Burns, research manager at the RSA, said: “Our research has demonstrated that those who drive for work are more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviours.”

“This is why we need to educate employers on the importance of implementing safe driving for work practices and help educate employees on the importance of safe driving. Improving driver behaviour when driving for work will help us reduce deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads,” she said.

Deirdre Sinnott McFeat, a senior inspector at the Health and Safety Authority, said: “Driving for work involves not only risks for working drivers, but also for fellow workers and other road users. As an employer or self-employed person, you must, by law, manage the risks that may arise when you or your employees drive for work.”

She said: “Employers should have systems in place to make sure that driving for work activities are road safety compliant. Employers can be true leaders in road safety improvements by promoting and influencing safe driving behaviour and actions by their employees.”

Superintendent Tom Murphy, An Garda Síochána said: “As RSA research shows that more than one in five drivers involved in fatal injury collisions are driving for work at the time of the collision, it is critical that employers prioritise policies to promote safe driving behaviours. An Garda Síochána is gravely concerned as to the current level of fatalities on Irish roads and we are committed to working with all stakeholders in addressing this very concerning trend.”

6 comments

  1. Anecdotally (ie in my experience) the one group of professional drivers who park most in cycle lanes are Amazon/Prime delivery drivers. I suspect they are on drop/pick-up rates rather than hourly rates and I think they aren’t unionised. Responsibility here lies with the employer, ie Bezos and co.

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  2. I find it’s Dominos Pizza. I find then to be the most reckless drivers re cyclists and they just throw their doors open as I approach.

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  3. I’d have a feeling (unscientific) that the more time you spend driving, the more complacent you can become about it, and that’s where the risk comes in. I drive every few weeks and it feels like a bigger deal. For a start, I feel like I’m going really fast because I’m used to moving around at cycling pace.

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  4. Is it time for a lower threshold of penalty points for professional drivers, like learners and novices? A hard sell in this country where needing a licence for work means judges often won’t disqualify people for offences.

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  5. You only have to listen to traffic reports on radio at commuting times to gauge how professional drivers do get it really wrong. Rigs are constantly overturning at roundabouts and off-ramps from motorways. No collision with another road user is involved, just drivers heading into these facilities far too fast.
    And we know from covert free-speed detection by the RSA that professional drivers are serial breakers of speed limits both in 50 km/h zones as well as 100 km/h zones. Report for 2021 here: https://tinyurl.com/2j94y9rc
    Professional drivers should face a higher penalty-point regime, but the owner/operator of the vehicles should faced stiff fines too. Too many companies pay drivers on a load delivered or just-in-time basis so the pressure is on drivers to speed, park up on pavements, etc. to maximise their income.
    The judiciary should stop treating drivers who drive for work so leniently when it comes to court judgements. If you drive for work you’d better be an exemplary driver. One who sets the standard for driving.

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  6. And then there is the issue of bridge-strikes (and level-crossing impacts) where professional drivers are driving their rigs under rail bridges where the maximum height is well signed. This shuts down the DART service for hours for all passengers in each direction.
    The owners/operators of the rigs should face sanction as well as the drivers.

    Reply

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