NETS Reckons Crashes Cost Employers $47.4 Billion in 2013

Protecting employees from motor vehicles crashes could be a profitable investment for U.S. businesses, according to a new report from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.

NETS, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, has released a report that estimates the amount of money traffic accidents cost U.S. employers during 2013. The report, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highlights ways businesses can help to save lives and money through roadway safety education in the workplace, according to NETS, which said $47.4 billion was the total cost to employers of crashes for that year.

It breaks down into $26.8 billion in health fringe benefit costs and $20.6 billion more in non-fringe costs. Protecting employees from motor vehicles crashes could be a profitable investment for U.S. businesses, according to Vienna, Va.-based NETS. Its report says direct crash-related expenses include medical care, liability, lost productivity, and property damage, and that employers can control these costs by promoting safe driving habits, including seat belt usage and the elimination of speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving, whether or not employees are on the clock.

The study updates a 2002 study titled "The Economic Burden of Traffic Crashes on Employers."

"The consequences of traffic crashes are far reaching. It's a domino effect that negatively impacts individuals, families, communities, and businesses," said Dr. Mark Rosekind, NHTSA's administrator. "It is critical that individuals make safe choices. Driving behavior change in traffic safety is something NHTSA is exploring through a series of regional summits. We hope employers will join us and look at this report as a motivator to help save lives and prevent injuries on our roads."

The report indicate more than 1.6 million work days were lost due to traffic crashes during 2013, nearly 90 percent of which were attributed to crashes that occurred off the job and involved employees and/or their dependents. The report details the costs to employers of traffic crashes occurring both on and off the job and associated with driver behavior.

NETS reported that speeding resulted in $8.4 billion in crash-related expenses and distracted driving resulted in $8.2 billion of those expenses. Driving under the influence of alcohol resulted in $6.0 billion in losses, and not wearing a seat belt added $4.9 billion to the total. Medical costs paid by employers per employee injured in a crash were nearly twice in on-the-job crashes where the employee was not wearing a seat belt and increased by one-third for off-the-job crashes.

"When people think of the human and financial impact of traffic crashes on the workplace, they think about company car drivers," said Jack Hanley, executive director of NETS. "This new report is an eye-opener. It shows that employers bear the crash costs of all their employees, not just their company drivers. Investing in road safety is good business and today's report provides employers with a blueprint for developing business cases in support of employee road safety."

Along with the report, NETS introduced a free toolkit to help employers encourage employees to wear a seat belt. The toolkit, available here, was piloted by Coca-Cola Refreshments at its Bismarck, N.D., site, where observed seat belt usage increased from a baseline 54 percent to 84 percent over a six-week period.

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