Occupational Driver Impairment: Knowledge, Perceptions and Attitudes Amongst Employers in BC

Author(s): Jennifer Diep

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted):

5B - Diep


Research on the prevalence of impaired driving for work-related drivers is extremely limited. In British Columbia (BC),
the prevalence of occupational motor vehicle incidents or fatalities as a result of impairment is unclear due to data
collection inconsistencies, privacy concerns and complexities among various legal entities. Data drawn from other
jurisdictions and studies on truck drivers however, demonstrates that work-related driver impairment is a serious
problem for society.

Literature reveals a strong link between alcohol and drug use and accident risk (Drummer et al., 2003; Swann et al.,
2002). Research by Haworth et al. (2002) indicates that over the period from 1993 to 1998, 17% of all fatal crashes
in Canada were associated with heavy vehicles. In a study by Boufous et al. (2009), fatigue was reported in 20% of
work-related traffic crashes and 28% of fatalities involving heavy truck drivers in Australia. In the United States,
alcohol is a contributing factor in 39% of all work-related motor vehicle crashes (OSHA, 2014).
Furthermore, work-related driver impairment is a complex issue, governed by multiple provincial and federal laws,
regulations and legal bodies. In BC, there are no laws or regulations specifically targeting “occupational driver
impairment” and is addressed by a myriad of provincial and federal laws and regulations. Its multidimensional nature
makes it challenging for work-related drivers to navigate, and difficult for employers to manage. Considering the lack
of research on occupational driver impairment and its devastating impact, understanding the ways in which
employers understand this problem and exploring public policies to address this issue, are essential for the
prevention of public injury and death on the road.

This research is in collaboration with WorkSafeBC, and aims to investigate the knowledge, perceptions and attitudes
amongst employers in BC about occupational driver impairment in the workplace. The findings will serve to inform
policy development.

This project explores the following questions:
1. How do employers understand legal responsibilities relating to occupational driver impairment in BC?
2. What are employers’ knowledge and attitude towards factors that impair driving, which include drugs,
alcohol, fatigue and medical conditions?
3. To what extent do employers perceive occupational driver impairment as an issue in BC workplaces or their
4. What tools and resources do employers presently have in place to address occupational driver impairment?

The participants of this study are employers. “Employers” are defined as individuals from organizations who have
direct influence on work practices and who employ work-related drivers. These participants should hold roles
including, but not limited to, supervisor, foreman, forewoman, manager, owner, lead hands, supervisors.

I will be conducting a survey with a stratified random sample of over 6,000 employers in BC, and interviewing 5
employers to gain deeper insight on any issues identified in the survey. The survey data will be analyzed statistically
and the interviews will be analyzed using thematic analysis. Both datasets will be used to develop and evaluate

The research will be completed in April 2015 and will be presented once completed. The data generated from the
survey and interviews will: (1) serve to evaluate the effectiveness of current legal instruments, (2) identify employer
knowledge and attitudes and (3) foster public and workplace health and safety by informing policy options that will be
comprehensively analyzed and evaluated. Policy recommendations developed will provide useful guidance that
occupational health and safety bodies such as WorkSafeBC could adopt to address work-related driver impairment
and enhance road safety.

Works Cited
Boufous, Soufiane, and Ann Williamson. 'Factors Affecting the Severity of Work Related Traffic Crashes in Drivers
Receiving a Worker's Compensation Claim.' Accident Analysis & Prevention 41.3 (2009): 467-73. Web.
Drummer, Olaf H., Jim Gerostamoulos, Helen Batziris, Mark Chu, John Caplehorn, Michael D. Robertson, and Philip
Swann. 'The Involvement of Drugs in Drivers of Motor Vehicles Killed in Australian Road Traffic Crashes.' Accident
Analysis & Prevention 36.2 (2004): 239-48. Web. 5 Oct. 2014.
'Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes.' Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle
Crashes. US Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2014.
Haworth, N. Vulcan, P. Sweatman, P. (March 2002). ‘Truck Safety Benchmarking Study’, National Road Transport
Commission, Melbourne, Australia.
Swann, Phillip. 'The Major Issues of Drugs, Alcohol and Fatigue in Heavy Vehicle Safety.' National Heavy Vehicle
Safety Seminar (2002): 69-72. Web. 5 Oct. 2014.