By Daniel Mwamba

The number of road deaths on Zambian roads increased from 2,113 in 2015 to 2,206 in 2016 representing an increase of 4%. The real tragedy is that these crashes are largely preventable. The impact of a lack of road safety on people’s lives, or the human toll, is immeasurable. Through the adoption of corporate road safety programme, the private sector can make a significant impact on the safety of our roads.

Not only does investing in road safety make sound financial, legal, and business sense, it can have a positive impact on a company’s public image and internal culture. The private sector should think serious about the safety of its customers and appreciate the massive financial, legal, reputational, and social implications road traffic crashes have on corporate entities. A company’s responsibility must consider the welfare of its employees, as well as the dangers business fleets pose to other road users. Much research concludes that fleet or company drivers have an increased crash risk relative to that of privately registered vehicle drivers.

Effort should be made to select vehicles that perform well on both crashworthiness and functional dimensions. Regular vehicle inspections are crucial for identifying malfunctions and managing vehicle faults.

Managing the transportation journey should involve a process for planning and mapping hazardous routes. For the greatest impact, companies must develop an environment that influences and supports the emergence of safer road users.

Reporting guidelines must also form part of the corporate road safety programme and cover the requirement of drivers to report any vehicle malfunction in an immediate fashion. For optimal safety, vehicle inspections prior to and following every transportation journey should be conducted, as well as the development of a preventative maintenance programme to monitor vehicle status.

In order to support the emergence of a corporate road safety culture, reinforcement of road safety programmes through incentive and disincentive schemes is recommended.

To build a company of safer road users, driver attitudes, knowledge, health status, and skills must be assessed at the time of hire and an ongoing basis.

To track employee adherence to safe practice and pinpoint areas for development, a process for driver monitoring must exist. The use of telematics, management ride-longs, and public feedback are suitable methods for driver monitoring.

To optimize organisational road safety measures, employees must be suitably prepared to respond effectively in the event that a collision does occur. Post-crash reporting and investigation is vital for any corporate road safety programme. Drivers should be interviewed following each incident to collect data on why the incident occurred and how it could have been avoided.

The International Organization for Standardization has developed ISO 39001, a road traffic safety (RTS) management system to support an organization to reduce death and serious injuries related to road traffic crashes it can influence.

The road safety programme can be extended to employees’ families and members of your community. Employers are in a position to foster safe driving practices and reduce the number of traffic crashes in their communities. And this can have a wider impact on the country as a whole, creating a safer driving environment for your employees, their dependents, and members of the community.

Road safety education and motivation programmes are essential for ensuring drivers are constantly learning and expanding their knowledge. Employers can partner with road safety organisations such as the Zambia Road Safety Trust, the Police or RTSA on education and awareness.

A good place to look for the success of a business is in its safety practices. If safety is well managed then the rest of the company is probably pretty tidy. If safety is a mess, then it is likely that the other key functions are also falling apart.