Staffing Shortages, Reduced Safety Training Fuel Risks for Company Drivers

Increased distractions, staffing shortages, and safety risks mean that 60% of company drivers are worried about their personal safety and liability behind the wheel. Over half have been involved in or witnessed an accident in the past year.

According to Nationwide’s Agency Forward Driving Behaviors 2024 Survey Findings, company drivers face increased distractions and safety risks on the road, which are aggravated by staffing shortages, longer hours and a reduced focus on safety.

Staffing shortages are a significant issue, according to 40% of drivers, leading to increased workloads (61%), longer hours (58%) and more difficulty meeting deadlines (47%). These increased work demands exacerbate distracted driving, leading 55% of drivers to take calls while driving (compared to 34% of consumers), while 30% read or respond to texts while behind the wheel. Nearly one in five read work emails (18%) or respond to work emails (16%) while on the road.

To compensate for driver shortages, 42% of drivers said their employer has reduced hiring criteria, 39% said employee training has suffered and 34% said there’s less focus on safety.

The survey found 34% of company drivers “often or sometimes” feel distracted while driving for work purposes. Distractions are caused mainly by operating GPS/navigation systems (55%) and interacting with radio or music systems (41%). More than a quarter (27%) also daydream behind the wheel and 13% check social media apps.

One-fifth of drivers reported that their company has a total ban on cell phone use while driving (20%), but 21% say there is no policy or monitoring. More than half (57%) said their company enforces a “hands-free” policy.

Still, 91% said that employees are aware of the impact driving incidents have on the company. Eighty-five percent said management prioritizes road safety and that the threat of potential driving incidents or accidents impacts how they drive.

Nearly three-quarters of driver want management to increase the training being provided to drivers to help prevent accidents and improve safety. Drivers are also overwhelmingly supportive of technology like dash cams and telematics, but only 38% said their employer requires a dash cam or monitors their driving with telematics.

“Business owners may have opportunities to elevate the training and safety resources they’re offering for drivers, further demonstrating their commitment to their workers and, in turn, potentially helping with hiring and retaining good drivers in the future,” said Kristina Talkowski, Nationwide’s leader of Middle Market Commercial Lines.