Young drivers are some of the most vulnerable groups in the workplace. Statistics show that teen driver crashes are the leading cause of mortality among young people in the US. From 2003-2010, an estimated 843 young drivers 16-24 years died due to motor vehicle crashes accounting for 22% of fatalities at the workplace. A teen driver was responsible for the accident in 67% of these incidents. But, what can be done to minimize injuries and occupational hazards to young drivers? One of the ways to decrease the mortality is to engage inexperienced drivers in training courses that help in practicing good driving habits at the place of work.
How Many Are Affected
Drivers 15-19 years accounted for 11% of the total costs of injuries arising from motor vehicle accidents in the US according to CDC statistics. In 2015, there were 2,333 US teens between the age of 16-19 killed from crashes while around 221,313 were admitted to emergency for injuries due to vehicular crashes.
There is no doubt that young drivers represent a vulnerable group especially those in the 16-19 years old age bracket. They are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash compared to drivers older than 20 years.
By law, young drivers under 18 are limited to driving at the workplace. While those over the age of 18 can drive, they, unfortunately, lack the experience and maturity that their older co-workers possess. In addition, teen drivers are at high risk of engaging in dangerous driving behaviors that increase the probability of accidents or injuries. They might forget to wear seatbelts, drive under the influence of alcohol, overestimate their driving capabilities and may struggle in identifying & reacting to traffic hazards. Moreover, young drivers might have the tendency to speed or break traffic rules to comply with the time expectations of their employers or customers.
What Needs to Be Done
At the workplace, employers who have young drivers can enhance the safety of their workers while on the job by providing training and certification. Driving performance can be enhanced by subjecting the employee to periodic training and refresher courses. Regular evaluation of the driving skills of a young worker can also be assessed to see if the basic rules are applied such as wearing seatbelts, avoiding distractions (texting, listening to loud music and the like) or compliance with traffic regulations. If a young driver needs to handle types of machinery such as forklifts, tractors or ATVs, certification must also be mandatory so that the worker is aware of safety practices to avoid injuries and crashes even at the workplace. It is also the duty of the employer to ensure that the vehicles provided to workers must be in good operating condition. This also demonstrates to young workers and drivers the significance of maintaining vehicles properly.
By providing training and certification, young drivers at the workplace will reduce the number of accidents and prevent injuries drastically. These lessons are valuable in ensuring the safety of young workers who operate machinery and those around them whether on the road or at the workplace.