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On- and off-the-job vehicle crashes costly to employers

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Even off-the-job motor vehicle accidents are costly to employers, with on- and off-the-job accidents costing organizations $47.4 billion in 2013, according to a Department of Transportation-funded report.

The report issued Thursday by the Vienna, Virginia-based Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, which is a public-private partnership organization, said $20.6 billion of the 2013 costs were due to property damage, workplace disruption and liability costs.

The remaining $26.8 billion in costs to employers were due to health-related fringe benefits including sick leave, health insurance and insurance covering work losses.

The fringe benefits payments were split roughly equally between health care expenses and wage replacement, such as sick leave and life insurance, according to the report. Fringe benefit costs of off-the-job crash injuries were $21.8 billion, accounting for 81% of the health-related fringe benefit bill, according to the study prepared by the Calverton, Maryland-based Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation.

On- and off-the-job motor vehicle crashes involving employees or their dependents cost employers more than 1.6 million lost work days, and 90% happened outside of work, according to the analysis.

Among its recommendations, the report said, “employers might profit by initiating 'work-life' programs that use workers as conduits for getting traffic safety information to family and community.”

“This new report is an eye-opener. It shows that employers bear the crash costs of all their employees, not just their company drivers,” Jack Hanley, executive director of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, said in a statement.

The top four causes of the accidents were speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and not wearing a seat belt, according to the study funded by the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.