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7 steps to building a business case for road safety

If you have employees who drive for work, you need to have a road safety component in your overall safety management plan. The following seven steps can be used to help your organization commit its time, money and people to improving road safety.

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Do your homework[/span]

Start off by hitting the books. You may have a feeling that your crash rates are an issue, so get the evidence. Dive into the statistics. Identify the numbers of motor-vehicle crashes, injuries and deaths in your organization over the last three-to-five years.  Then, put your findings in context by comparing your crash rates to others in your sector, sub-sector and classification unit. When preparing your case, think about what you would do if you owned the company. What information would you want to know before you made a decision about where to invest company resources?

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Frame your argument around revenue generation rather than cost avoidance[/span]

Senior leaders are often more focused on generating revenue than avoiding costs, so frame your argument in terms they understand. How much revenue would your company have to generate to offset the costs of a single crash?

Clarify why road safety is worth the investment
The next step is to identify why road safety is important and the benefits of making the investment. Think about your organization’s values and what will resonate with decision makers. List as many benefits as you can based on your company’s circumstances. This could include avoiding damage to company vehicles and vehicle downtime due to repairs, reducing workers’ compensation claims and employee days off work due to injuries, being better able to attract and retain employees due to a strong safety reputation, and increasing your ability to win contracts because of your strong safety performance.

Examine your current status
It's important to understand where you are now with your road safety plan. Do a gap analysis and identify your short and long-term goals, plans, resources and costs. Identify the main road safety issues you currently face and what you can do to solve them. View this as a journey and adopt a continuous improvement mindset. Identify some potential quick wins — things you can do immediately that require little change, cost and effort — and some potential heavy hitters — things that you know will require more time, money and people to implement. Create and prioritize a list of these potential items and create an action plan with steps you will take to develop the full plan with target dates, and if appropriate, estimated costs.

Don’t forget risk factors
Any good business case includes the risks associated with taking action and with not taking action as well as how you intend to mitigate the risks you have identified. For example, one risk could be that by increasing investment in road safety you may have to decrease investment elsewhere. What are the implications of this and how would you minimize the impacts?

Specify what you intend to achieve and what you need to achieve it
This last step has two parts. First, explain what the company’s investment will get it in terms your senior leaders will understand by using reasonable projections of anticipated gains or avoided losses. Consider using case histories or examples of what other organizations have accomplished. For example: If we reduced crashes by five per cent over the next three years, we can also hope to reduce lost work days by 10 per cent as Company XYZ experienced. As decision makers usually relate to numbers, identify estimated costs for the activities you include in your plan. 

Part two is explaining to decision-makers what they need to do to support the changes you’ve identified. Often this is in terms of time, money and people power. But you might also ask them to commit to making road safety a component of your organization’s health and safety program, set a strong example by demonstrating good road safety practices themselves or set up a cross-functional steering committee to guide the development of a road safety program.

Joanna Wyatt

Joanna Wyatt is the program director at Road Safety at Work, a not-for-profit initiative managed by the Justice Institute of BC and funded by WorkSafeBC to help employers improve the safety of workers who drive for work or who work at the roadside. Visit for more information.
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