Organisation: UCL Centre for Transport Studies & Agilysis
Date uploaded: 15 December 2020
Date published: December 2020

This report identifies new trends and risks for occupational drivers and other road users involved in accidents, in order to inform policies and interventions to encourage safer driving.

It shows that a third of road deaths and a fifth of serious injuries are sustained in accidents involving a working driver or rider.

Of 520 fatalities recorded by the police in 2018 from road collisions involving a working driver/rider, 432 (83%) of these were other road users. Working drivers and their passengers accounted for 88 fatalities (17%).

Between 2011 and 2018, 39% of pedestrians killed in Great Britain were hit by a working driver (someone who is driving as part of their job, rather than commuting to work).

The researchers from the UCL Centre for Transport Studies and transport safety and behaviour consultants Agilysis estimate that vans each drive around 12,800 miles per year, equating to 15.4% of all vehicle mileage  – with 20% of these miles being on minor urban roads.

The changing economy has led to a rapid increase in the number of vans on the road and the proportion of people working in the gig economy, where they are paid per job, or ‘gig’.

Vans and drivers are not subject to the same strict regulation of driver training, restrictions on driving hours and roadworthiness testing as HGVs, buses and coaches.

The academics also interviewed eight anonymous national strategic stakeholders with expertise in road safety or a role in the management of occupational risk. These interviews revealed confusion over new employment models which passed risk responsibility to individuals and a lack of detailed data around risk and effective interventions.

They also revealed concerns over exploitation of workers and their working conditions, and a feeling that the onus of ensuring workers are protected by health and safety laws should move to companies.

The academics also identified where there are gaps in knowledge, partly stemming from a lack of attention paid to work-related road safety by policy makers. These gaps include better data on who working drivers and riders are, and who is injured – whether pedestrians or cyclists are more at risk.

There is also a lack of ownership, leadership and management of the issue among some key stakeholders, and more data is needed on risk and effective interventions.

They make several recommendations in their report, including bringing van drivers under the same strict regulations as HGV, bus and coach drivers.

Accountability for health and safety should be at company board level and there was support from interviewed stakeholders for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to put occupational road risk within their scope.

Casualty data should be strengthened to identify work-related collisions.

Download the report from the UCL website: