Operating a large fleet of cars and commercial vehicles, Iarnród Éireann is committed to ensuring the safety of its employees when travelling for work. The company organises regular training and driver awareness events, including a recent IM Road Vehicle Safety Seminar at its Inchicore depot in Dublin, which featured presentations from many of Ireland’s leading road safety advocates.
Among the speakers was Superintendent Con O’Donohue of An Garda Síochána National Traffic Bureau who pointed out that drivers need to be aware of the latest traffic legislation, have a current driving licence with them at all times, and ensue they are properly insured for driving for work. He also highlighted some of the key risk areas including drink and drug driving (with new drug testing legislation now in place), wearing seatbelts, the use of mobile phones, and nodding off at the wheel.
Anne Farrell, CIE Group Health Promotion Officer stressed the importance of promoting health and wellness to ensure a driver is in the best possible condition to tackle the challenge of modern driving. Getting enough sleep, unplugging from mobiles and connected technology, and proper nutrition are important.
Deirdre Sinnott, Senior Policy Inspector with the Health & Safety Authority noted that people who drive for work are more exposed to risk because of the amount of driving they tend to do. She highlighted the additional legal obligations on such persons, noting their duty as employees to comply with relevant statutory provisions, and to take reasonable care not to endanger themselves or others.
A case study into how a proactive Driver Safety Management programme has yielded dividends for a large engineering firm was presented by Fiona O’Donnell, Head of Safety, Transportation UK & Ireland for Jacobs Engineering Ltd. From a start in 2006 when the company realised it was having a lot of high speed and high consequence accidents to today when most instances experienced by its drivers are bumps and scrapes, steps included driver risk profiling, minimum standards on driver training and competence, and limits on journey lengths.
Education Manger with the Road Safety Authority, Noreen McCool provided definition on what constitutes driving for work, pointing out that it can be something as simple as going down to the post office to buy a stamp. Comparing the behaviours of people who drive for work versus private drivers, the former are more likely to speed, and overall are at higher risk of accidents – 15% versus 9% of general population. On the other hand, those who drive for work are more likely to have properly maintained cars, do walk-around checks, or take breaks on journeys.
The seminar also heard a moving account from Donna Price about the impact on lives of fatal accidents. Having lost her son in a fatal collision with a lorry in 2006, Donna subsequently founded the Irish Road Victims Association, a charitable NGO which has done sterling work in highlighting the injustices and indifference to road traffic victims.
“We wish to be safer in everything we do by valuing our people and ensuring they are properly looked after with education so that they can improve with road safety,” said Don Cunningham, Director, Infrastructure Manager at Iarnrod Éireann in his concluding remarks, adding that the company puts customers at the heart of its business by saving money on accidents to put towards customer’s service.