Teresa Budworth: I like the car, even if it is dangerous

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Deciding how to get from A to B isn’t always easy, especially when your journey is work-related.

Like a lot of people, I like the car. It’s convenient. But then there’s the rising cost of fuel and the environmental guilt? Trains are OK, especially for getting a bit of work done. Hardly reliable, or cheap though. And you can’t beat a plane for travelling long distances quickly, but you still need a car or some other kind of transport at either end.

Then there’s the question – do I need to travel at all? Video conference? 3D holographic projectionism (if only)? Phone call?

Work-related journeys are all about weighing things up – available time, cost, convenience, distance, reliability, environmental concerns, need and so on. But what about safety? Where does safety come in to it?

Well here’s a sobering thought. Around 75% of all work-related deaths happen on the roads in Britain. That’s more than 800 people killed driving at work each year. The number seriously injured is worrying too, between 90,000 and 120,000 every year. Not the safest option then.

But let’s not write the car off completely. There’s no denying it can also be the most convenient, efficient and cheapest option. Again, it’s all about weighing things up. Sometimes taking the car makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t.

Recently I asked a colleague at NEBOSH to leave his car at home. He was planning on driving to Scotland following an afternoon meeting at our Leicester HQ. He had several more meetings to attend north of the border over the course of a few days and would be driving back “late-morning or lunchtime-ish” on the Friday.

What tipped the balance for me, wasn’t the busy schedule or even the distance to be travelled. It was the fact he told me he needed to be back for his engagement party on the Friday evening! It was this tight deadline for getting back which concerned me. Rushing back in a car from Scotland after a busy week away? Sounded like a recipe for disaster to me.

The alternative was for him to fly, pick up a hire car in Scotland and fly back. He said the flight would be expensive. For me, on this occasion, cost didn’t seem quite so important. He flew, got back safely and enjoyed his party with his fiance, family and friends.

We have to understand that driving at work is dangerous. In fact for most of us, driving is the most dangerous thing we’ll ever do at work.

That doesn’t mean we should stop doing it. That just wouldn’t be practical. I for one, wouldn’t want to. I like the car. But when it comes to weighing up how we should get from A to B, let’s think a little bit more about safety. Let’s look at the overall context of journeys and encourage people to make sensible choices.

About Teresa Budworth

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About Teresa Budworth

Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive of the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health

During a 30 year career in health and safety, she has specialised in safety consultancy; working with a number of Boards of Directors on implementing safety governance within large and diverse organisations. Her work on competence, education and training culminated in her appointment as Chief Executive of NEBOSH; the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, in 2006.

Prior to joining NEBOSH, Teresa combined management of Norwich Union Risk Service’s (now Aviva) Consultancy operation with her post as a non-executive Director and Trustee of NEBOSH and was Senior Examiner for Diploma Part One from its inception in 1997. She is a Visiting Senior Teaching Fellow and member of the Examination Board for post graduate courses in Occupational Health at the University of Warwick’s Medical School. She is a member of RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee and also serves on the judging panel for RoSPA’s annual occupational safety and health awards. She is a member of IOSH Council.

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