The decorations are going up and festive parties are in full swing, as employers across the country put on well-earned Christmas celebrations for their staff. But with all the festivities comes more alcoholic consumption than usual, as people let loose and have fun which can carry a host of risks on the roads.

 

Here, our Risk Advisor, Simon Fabian, gives his advice on how employers can ensure their team members stay safe whilst driving this Christmas.

 

“Driving for work is the most dangerous activity most employees ever undertake. In fact, employees who drive on business are more likely to be killed at work than those employed as deep-sea divers or coal miners! There are hundreds of thousands of injuries on the roads every year and literally millions of collisions that result in expensive damage to vehicles and property.  A conservative estimate is that a third of these are thought to involve drivers who were at work, and almost all are avoidable.

 

Although driving carries risks throughout the year, the increase of drink driving makes the festive period the most dangerous time on the roads, with three times as many people caught driving under the influence during the month of December than at any other time.

 

The good news is that the vast majority of people wouldn’t dream of getting behind the wheel straight after a few drinks, but the next morning can be a very different story. With gifts to buy, people to see and work to get to the day after a party, many people are hopping into their cars with alcohol still in their bloodstream, putting themselves and others at risk.

 

Although Police check points over recent years have seen a huge crack down on ‘morning-after’ drivers, there is still a long way to go.

 

Travelling to work is one of the largest causes of drink driving over the Christmas period. Often workers are required to entertain clients and customers at various events throughout the season and may feel as though they have no option but to drive to work the following day. Employers need to be instrumental in promoting road safety within their teams by minimising any driving the day after work Christmas parties. The simplest solution is to ensure your employees do not need to leave the house the next day; hold your party on a Friday or Saturday night, give your staff a work-from-home day or set a much later start the day after a party to provide as much time for recovery as possible.

 

Businesses owners can also make their employees’ safety a priority by providing transport to and from parties, as well as to and from work the next day, if a weekend do is not an option.

 

Another way of promoting safe driving within a business is with the use of technology. The road safety charity, Brake, has a free ‘Morning After’ app which roughly calculates when you may be able to drive again after a night of drinking alcohol by inputting your drink count, although this does not take your age, sex, weight or height into consideration.

 

The organisation states: “The app provides a rough estimate and there is no effective way to estimate the level of alcohol in your blood by counting the units of alcohol you drink, as alcohol is absorbed at different rates depending on factors including: height, weight, tiredness, stress levels, and how much and how recently you have eaten. The only way to ensure you’re safe to drive is to not drink any alcohol.”

 

Bear in mind, there is nothing you can do to speed up the process of alcohol leaving your bloodstream; cold showers, coffee and even a good old bacon sandwich won’t make it safer to drive. The Police can stop a driver if they suspect they have been drinking, they have committed a traffic offence, they have been involved in a road traffic accident (even if they were not at fault) or even for a very minor traffic violation such as not signalling, and usually breathalyse everyone involved, as a matter of routine. Drivers may feel completely fine, but if they are pulled over for even the slightest driving infraction, breathalysed and found to be a little over the limit, the penalties can be devastating.

 

Without a licence, many employees would simply not be able to work, resulting in financial hardships and tough calls for employers who may rely on a driving workforce. But losing a licence is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to penalties; you can be fined £2,500 or more and receive up to three months in prison for getting behind a wheel whilst over the limit. With thousands of casualties every year from drink driving, getting in the car the morning after a party simply isn’t worth the risk.”

 

For more information on the risks of drink driving and how to avoid it, visit the Drink Aware website: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcohol-and-the-law/drink-driving-penalties/.

 

To reduce the risks within your business, get in touch with our expert Risk Solutions team on info@cowensgroup.co.uk.