The rising human and financial toll of accidents and injuries on North-East roads have prompted a new move to draw up a regional road safety strategy.
Employers, defensive driving experts and members of the legal profession are set to meet later this month for the North-East’s first transport summit.
The event, which has been timed to coincide with National Road Safety Week, will be held at Business Central, in Darlington, on Tuesday, November 24.
Organisers are hoping the seminar will lead to a new strategy for improving the regional road safety record of company drivers.
More than 70 delegates are expected and among the organisations taking part will be IAM Drive and Survive, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Britain’s largest commercial vehicle rental company Northgate PLC and the North-East Chamber of Commerce.
People driving for work are involved in an estimated third of all fatal and serious road accidents. In addition to the human price, poor driving cost UK employers more than £2.7 billion last year.
Worryingly for employers, drivers are 25 per cent more likely to have an accident when they are using a company vehicle rather than their own car, suggesting they take greater care when driving for pleasure.
The transport summit has been organised by leading North-East legal firm Hewitts as a way of swapping best practice, professional driving tips and raising road safety awareness.
Hewitts partner Callum Terry said: “The true cost of road accidents is significantly higher than the resulting insurance claims. As well as staff absence due to injury, vehicles may be off the road for a long period of time. Companies with a poor accident record pay the price in higher premiums, fleet operating costs and reduced residual value of fleet vehicles.
“With such a large proportion of road accidents occurring on work-related business we felt there was a pressing need to bring all the interested parties together to see what can be done to improve the situation.
“Hopefully, by swapping tips and ideas, and listening to what the driving experts have to say, we can draw up a set of good driving guidelines.”
Duncan Pickering, marketing development manager at IAM Drive and Survive, added: “So many companies have a laissez faire attitude to accidents. They give employees health and safety assessments to make sure they are sitting at their desk correctly then hand over the keys to a powerful vehicle with nothing more than a quick licence check.
“People are a company’s biggest asset, and providing them with the necessary skills to be safe on the road is essential.”
The event will begin with a breakfast reception at 8am, followed by presentations from expert speakers until 10.30am.
Places are still available for businesses interested in attending. For more details, visit: https://northeasttransportsummit2015.eventbrite.co.uk