Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of worker fatalities in the United States.* While anybody who operates a vehicle for their job is at risk, the risk for construction workers is elevated. In 2011, transportation incidents accounted for 28.3% of construction worker fatalities. While not all vehicle accidents are fatal, they can leave workers severely injured and permanently disabled.
Employers are often responsible for covering the insurance and medical expenses after an accident. The total cost to U.S. employers is about $65,000 for every employee involved in a nonfatal car crash. Driving safety is something you can’t afford to neglect. Taking the appropriate precautions to prevent vehicle accidents will help you protect yourself and your workers when driving in your work truck. Get vehicle safety tips to help you safely arrive at your next job or service call.
Work truck maintenance and safety checklist
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Paying attention to vehicle maintenance will minimize the risk of accidents. Making sure your work truck is equipped with the proper safety equipment will help you be prepared in the event of a roadside emergency. Some of the safety items your kit should include are:
Download your free work truck safety checklist to help you be ready for roadside emergencies.
In addition to keeping a safety kit in your work truck, take the time to inspect all work vehicles to make sure they are functioning properly at the beginning of each shift. In general, you should inspect your work truck’s:
- Tire pressure
- Seat belts
- Turn signals
Specific vehicle equipment standards vary from state to state, so check with your state’s department of transportation for complete operational requirements.
Safe driving tips & best practices for tradespeople
In addition to vehicle maintenance, driving habits play an important role in accident prevention. Train your crew on the following driving safety best practices recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and follow them every time you or your crew drives:
- Allow only drivers with a valid license to operate work vehicles. The type of license required varies depending on the size and type of your work truck. Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles for specific licensing requirements.
- Secure work truck equipment. Material loaded on the outside of your work truck can become a deadly projectile if not properly secured. All equipment that is loaded on the roof, the side or the bed of your work truck should be secured with the appropriate cargo straps.
- Avoid distracted driving. Cell phones, two-way radios and your GPS are necessary tools for getting the job done. This is especially true for contractors who respond to service calls. If you’re driving with your crew, designate one of your crewmembers to handle all electronic devices. If you’re driving alone, pull over to answer phone calls and texts and to manage your GPS.
- Slow down. Speeding is often a factor in vehicle accidents. To deter speeding, make sure you factor in travel time when scheduling work. That way you’ll give yourself enough time to make it safely to the job while obeying all posted speed limits.
- Buckle up. Besides the fact that wearing your seat belt is the law in many states, seat belts really do save lives. Always buckle your seat belt, and make sure your passengers do the same. Do not allow the number of passengers in your work truck to exceed the number of seat belts.
- Beware of drowsy driving. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that in 2013, over 70,000 accidents were caused by drivers who were literally asleep at the wheel. Make sure all drivers are well-rested before allowing them to operate work trucks.
- Drive sober. Alcohol is estimated to be a factor in 40 percent of fatal vehicle accidents. Never drink and drive, and remember that alcohol is not the only thing that causes driver impairment. Beware that a variety of medications will also impair your ability to drive, so never operate your work truck until you know how you will be affected by new prescriptions.
*Reported by the Centers for Disease Control, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 2014