Sharon Newnam, a post-doctoral researcher with QUT’S Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland (CARRS-Q), recently completed a study which compared the driving habits of volunteer and remunerated light vehicle drivers within a non-profit organisation.
The findings showed volunteers were less likely to drive tired and reported less inattention than remunerated drivers.
“I think when a volunteer is driving, they relate to their role more from an altruistic perspective, and they really feel a connection with their role; their role is also well-defined,” Dr Newnam said.
“For drivers who are being remunerated, although their driving is monitored in terms of vehicle maintenance and log books, their driving practices are not monitored or discussed.
“It could be that these drivers report less safe driving practises due to the fact that their driving tasks are often unpredictable, and they might not identify a great deal with their driving roles as opposed to their other roles within the organisation.”
Dr Newnam said that supervisors and senior management can play a role in influencing the driving habits of employees.
“Organisations do need to formalise role requirements of work-related drivers and in particular note the importance of safe driving practices,” she said.
“Drivers need more predictability within their role, and to have someone discuss driving behaviours with them so that they will identify with, and feel more connected to, their driving role in the same way volunteers feel connected to their role.
“This may have a positive effect on their driving behaviours.”
Dr Newnam said work-related drivers represented the highest number of work-related deaths in Australia.
Her research project was a cross-sectional study which analysed completed surveys from 190 remunerated drivers and 59 volunteer drivers.
It looked at driving behaviours including speeding, rule violation, inattention and tiredness.
The study’s findings have been published in the Safety Science journal.
This study is part of a larger program of research within CARRS-Q, funded by the Australian Research Council.
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