Is your boss taking steps to keep you safe on the road?

Unless you work as a professional driver, chances are you do not give much thought to the possibility that you could be hurt in a car accident on the job. However, work-related car accidents are some of the most common - and most serious - sources of workers' compensation claims. If you spend time in the car as part of your job, whether as a full-time driver or simply traveling between work sites, the risk of occupational car accidents is very real.

On-the-job crash statistics

Government data indicates that about two out of every five fatal work accidents are the result of a car, truck or other transportation-related accident. Nationwide, this equates to roughly 1,776 occupational traffic fatalities every year. Because the injuries involved are often serious - frequently affecting the neck and back - they also tend to take longer to heal. On average, a worker injured in a transportation accident will require about one-third more recovery time than workers suffering from other types of work injuries, according to OSHA statistics.

What employers can do

The frequency and severity of occupational vehicle accidents is so substantial that OSHA has created employer guidelines specifically to help companies keep workers safe while they are on the road.

According to OSHA, one of the most important things that employers can do to prevent traffic accidents is simply to have a safe driving policy in place. This involves setting clear expectations for drivers and communicating them to employees. Those policies can be strengthened and emphasized in a number of ways, including:

  • Providing ongoing driver safety training
  • Establishing an incentive program that rewards safe driving
  • Creating a disciplinary structure that holds workers accountable for unsafe driving practices
  • Creating a written agreement that sets out the safe driving policies in writing and requires workers to acknowledge them

The agency also recommends that employers create reporting and investigation structures for when vehicle accidents do occur on the job. Examining the root causes of all on-the-job accidents, however small, can help businesses identify problem areas and work to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.

Take steps to protect yourself

Along with its guidelines for employers, OSHA also provides recommendations for employees to help them stay safe when traveling for work. These include reminders about traffic safety basics such as wearing a seat belt at all times and avoiding drugs and alcohol, as well as some other useful pointers that may be easier to overlook when driving for work.

Minimizing distractions is one way to greatly reduce the risk of traffic accidents, whether on the clock on your own time. This is especially important to keep in mind when traveling for work, since it is common to multitask by making phone calls from the car. Other helpful tips include:

  • Planning a route in advance
  • Being realistic about the time needed to arrive safely
  • Taking breaks at least every two hours
  • Being well rested
  • Keeping a level head and not taking other drivers' actions personally

If you are hurt in a crash while traveling for work in Connecticut, you may be able to recover workers' compensation benefits just as you would for any other work-related injury. Contact the workers' compensation lawyers at Cousins Desrosiers & Morizo, P.C., to find out about your options.