HSE Articles

Safe driver training program: achieving driver safety


One third of worker fatality is due to vehicle collisions*. It is the highest cause of occupational fatality in Australia and a major safety concern for employers with company drivers and fleet vehicles.


Company drivers travel, on average, twice the annual distance than private car drivers^. Given the current COVID restrictions and an increase in online deliveries,  there is an anticipation that this average could get higher.


The potential exposure of driver safety risk is high, and the need for safety paramount.



The vehicle is part of the workplace


Under OHS/WHS legislation, an employer has a duty to provide and maintain so far as reasonably practicable a safe working environment for its employees. If a passenger vehicle is used for work-related purposes, then the vehicle is deemed a workplace, and the same duty of care is legally required.


Whether it be delivery drivers, maintenance workers, sales representatives or health service providers. Whether the car is company-owned or not. If driving is part of an employee’s job requirement, then their employer has a responsibility to their safety on the road, as well as ensuring safety to other drivers and pedestrians.


All potential environmental, physical and behavioural risks need to be considered. The travel route, the competency of the driver, even the design of the car seat. Failure to do so, could lead to serious injury or fatality for the employee and insurance and maintenance costs as well as absenteeism and loss of productivity for the employer.





Some potential driver safety risks


  • Fatigue: Fatigue can lead to lack of alertness, slower reactions to signals or situations and an inability to make good decisions. Being awake for 17 hours is equal to a BAC over .05.


  • Speeding: Tight deadlines may put the driver under pressure and feel the need to speed or skip scheduled breaks.


  • Poor vehicle design: The design of the car seat, design of vehicle controls, and duration and frequency of driving can all increase the risk of musculoskeletal discomfort.


  • Physical health: Those who spend the most time in a vehicle are at higher risk of becoming overweight or obese, which could lead to other health impacts.


  • Untrained drivers: Drivers are not given induction training in driver safety or information about driving hazards.


  • Poorly maintained vehicles: There is no basic vehicle maintenance program, and potentially unsafe fleet of vehicles on the road.


  • COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus: Insufficient cleaning and hygiene practices, inadequate personal protection equipment supplied and no contactless methods can put drivers at severe risk of being exposed to the highly contagious illness.



Managing driver safety risks


The approach to managing driver safety can be consistent with the traditional risk management approach used in OHS/WHS.


It should identify, assess and control potential risks as well as cover the requirements for road safety laws such as vehicle roadworthiness, driver licensing and road rules.


Some companies have an isolated risk or fleet management strategy that focuses on efficient management of their vehicles, whereas others incorporate their risk or fleet management strategy into their wider OHS/WHS policies#.


Either way you approach it, your strategy should aim to include, but not be limited to:


  • Safe vehicle purchasing policies and maintenance procedures


  • Trip planning and fatigue management


  • Safe driving policies


  • Driver information and education





Managing exposure to COVID-19


In light of the current pandemic, your strategy should also include measures to protect drivers from exposure to COVID-19. Safe Work Australia suggests some of the following:


  • Provide drivers with appropriate personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves.


  • Ensure drivers practice good hygiene before touching any products.


  • Try to stop drivers having passengers but if it is essential implement social distancing requirements.


  • Have delivery drivers leave goods at the customer’s front door, and notify them via phone, app or email.


  • Have road freight drivers remain in their vehicle or a waiting area while goods are being unloaded.


  • Set up processes for electronic payments and paperwork.




Employees have a duty too


An employees’ approach to driving also contributes to their safety and the safety of others. 


As part of the OHS/WHS legislation, employees also have a duty to cooperate with the controls put in place by the employer to reduce or eliminate vehicle collisions and risks.


These include, but not limited to:


  • Having a valid driver’s licence


  • Adhering to road rules and speed limit


  • Refraining from driving if fatigued or impaired by medication


  • Adhering to hygiene and protection measures, and social distancing requirements, to prevent exposure to COVID-19





RACV Safe Driver Training Program


Royal Automotive Clubs across Australia are doing their part to assist organisations in achieving their driver safety objectives. RACV has the Safe Driver Training Program. (For information on other states, please get in touch.)


Initiated in 2016, RACV’s Safe Driver Training Program focuses on encouraging safe driving behaviour and techniques and reducing the likelihood of employees being involved in incidents. 


The program includes workshops and in-car assessments all designed to improve employees’ driving skills, behaviour and knowledge. The workshops and assessments are run by fully qualified RACV driving instructors and cater to both individuals and groups.


Some topics covered include:


  • Fatigue management


  • Road rules and the effects of speed


  • Understanding OHS/WHS requirements and the importance of following the ‘chain of responsibility’


  • The effects of driving with alcohol and drugs


  • In-vehicle technology


  • In-car assessments for Passenger, SUV, Light Bus and Light Commercial vehicles




Educate your drivers with the experts


Having your drivers educated by driver safety experts such as RACV is a sure-fire way to ensure the information and training supplied to your employees is accurate, of high-quality and aligns with legal requirements. 


Currently all training activities have been suspended due to COVID-19, and will resume once it is safe to do so. You can still enrol  any employee who drives as part their role for one of RACV’s future workshops or in-car assessments. 


Contact your Environment Essentials Account Manager on (03) 9095 6533 or Sak Ryopponen from RACV on 0438 619 224 or sak_ryopponen@racv.com.au


Click here to view pricing information




*Safe Work Australia, Work-related traumatic injury fatalities Australia 2018

^National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020

#Work Safe Victoria/TAS, A handbook for workplaces Guide to safe work-related driving, 2008