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Survey uncovers increasing risks on the roads

May 20, 2024

Driving for a living can be a dangerous profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 80,000  people who drive as part of their job were injured in 2023, and there were 843 fatalities.1 According to the BLS, operating a commercial vehicle is one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States.2

Roads do not appear to be getting safer, either, and there has been an upward trend in recent years.3 These statistics support the sentiment drivers expressed in Nationwide’s recent Driving Behavior Survey. The survey asked professional drivers, and passenger car drivers, about behavior they engaged in as well as what they witnessed while behind the wheel.

A majority stated that they are seeing more risky behavior on the road now than they have in the past. Compared to 12 months ago, business drivers feel drivers of passenger cars are:

  • More distracted today (82%)
  • Looking at their phones more often today (80%)
  • Driving faster today (78%)
  • More reckless today (76%)
  • Not driving safely around commercial vehicles (76%)
  • More aggressive today (76%)

Their take on other drivers isn’t limited to just passenger cars, either. Compared to 12 months ago, business drivers feel other professional drivers are:

  • Driving faster today (61%)
  • Looking at their phones more often today (60%)
  • More aggressive today (57%)
  • More reckless today (46%)

What’s behind the behavior

People who drive regularly for their job have a compelling viewpoint on the current state of drivers: They spend a considerable amount of their day on the road, and they have often received formal training for their position.

However, even professionals are not immune to every external factor. According to our survey, staffing shortages are having a significant impact on the workplace. Nearly 40% of business drivers said their employer is currently having trouble finding, hiring, or retaining commercial drivers.

This is having an effect on drivers day-to-day roles and impacting the quality of people behind the wheel. Our survey shows current drivers believe these shortages have:

  • Increased their workload (61%)
  • Required them to work longer hours (58%)
  • Made it hard to meet deadlines (47%)
  • Forced their employer to lower hiring criteria due to talent shortages (42%)
  • Decreased the quality of employee training (39%)

These shortages could also be creating situations where drivers are more distracted when they are on the road. Just over a third (34%) reported that they are “sometimes” or “often” distracted while driving. Some of the primary reasons they stated are:

  • Responding to work related text messages (36%)
  • Eating or drinking while driving (30%)
  • Talking or texting on a mobile phone (27%)

Additionally, many drivers report they sometimes or often take the following actions while driving for work purposes:

  • Taking work phone calls (55%)
  • Taking personal phone calls (41%)
  • Reading/responding to work text messages (30%)

Concerned for safety and potential liability

With these findings in mind, 58% of drivers stated that they are “somewhat” or “very” worried about being killed or injured in an accident.

Drivers also are concerned over being held liable for an accident and what it could mean for their employer and their career:

  • 59% are worried about being held personally liable for an accident or injury
  • 57% are worried about being involved in an accident that could impact future employment
  • 52% are worried about accidents that could damage their employer’s business or reputation

Implementing safe practices

With so much responsibility on professional drivers, as a group they have a high degree of concern over their safety and the safety of others – 85% said the potential threat of driving incidents or accidents impacts how they drive. Many identified training and dash cams as important components of supporting safety and identifying liability.

Boost training – With many drivers saying that training has suffered with the strain of staffing shortages, many more say that training needs to have active support from leadership. According to our survey, nearly three-fourths (72%) of drivers stated that management needs to increase training to help prevent accidents and improve safety.

Dash cams – Just over half of drivers surveyed (53%) have dash cams installed in their vehicle, and more than a third (38%) say that their employers requires a dash cam and regularly monitors their driving with either an app or device that plugs into the vehicle.

Drivers largely agree these devices make driving safer (70% dashcams, 62% devices or apps that monitor driving), and drive the following outcomes:

  • They can provide valuable evidence in case of accidents (95%)
  • They increase transparency and accountability (89%)

Nationwide has the specialized expertise to help businesses and organizations with fleets of all sizes to implement safety strategies.

We have recently launched a commercial lines safe driver hub with links to key resources and training. There is more in-depth information and resources contained on that can help businesses manage their fleet risk environment and implement practices specific to their organizational need, such as:

Further resources and expertise available from Loss Control Services can help address individual risks each operation faces so that a tailored strategy can be implemented.