With companies squeezing in as many overseas meetings as they can before the holidays, global loyalty and benefits leader, Collinson, warns those planning to send employees to work overseas to beware of the number one threat to business travellers – road travel.
“Although terrorist attacks and natural disasters dominate the headlines when they happen, road travel is by far the biggest cause of injuries and fatalities to employees when travelling abroad,” says Collinson’s Head of Corporate Travel, Randall Gordon-Duff.
“This is due to a myriad of issues from poor road conditions and driving standards found in some countries, to badly maintained vehicles, poor adherence to basic road laws, lack of signage, exposure to opportunistic crime or car jackings, or simply driver error due to tiredness or alcohol misuse.”
According to Randall, it is critical that businesses factor road safety into a comprehensive travel risk management policy to protect those working overseas, whether they are travelling as passengers or planning to self-drive.
This should start with a pre-travel risk assessment of the country employees will be travelling to and include an evaluation of road safety.
Research conducted by the World Health Organisation last year revealed the top 10 most dangerous nations to drive in as Eritrea, Dominican Republic, Libya, Thailand, Venezuela, Nigeria, South Africa, Iraq, Guinea-Bissau and Oman.
Collinson’s Global Security Director, Peter Cooper, advises against driving or travelling by road at night in these countries due to the likelihood of encountering vehicles without properly operating lights or livestock on the roads. Additionally, the condition of the roads themselves can make them difficult to navigate in the dark.
Peter says: “In many of these countries there is an increased risk of crime, so we advise against allowing workers to self-drive and recommend using secure escorts with trusted, comprehensively trained drivers, possibly through a journey management service. This will provide point-to-point ground transportation by meeting business travellers at pre-booked locations, such as an airport, then escorting them to a high-quality vehicle and driving them to their destination.
“Business travellers should keep vehicle doors locked, windows rolled up and valuables out of sight, especially in built up areas, to protect against snatch and grab crimes.”
Here are Collinson’s five top planning tips for delivering a road safety travel risk management policy that protects employees working overseas:
1. Book tickets and transfers in advance using vetted, reputable ground transportation providers.
2. Ensure that employees use licensed taxis, ideally pre-booked pickups from specified locations or hotels, rather than hailing them in the street or getting the “first cab off the rank”.
3. If using a hire vehicle is unavoidable, select a trustworthy enterprise, arrange suitable insurance and ensure the traveller has the appropriate experience and rest before driving in unfamiliar conditions. Understanding local laws around speed limits, highway codes and driving under the influence (DUI) is key.
4. Brief employees to check the safety of hire vehicles as far as they are able before taking possession. Resist the urge to take local transport options, such as tuk tuks or hire motorcycles, which substantially increase the likelihood of injury or accident.
5. Select hotels in locations that require minimal road transport.
Randall says: “It is part of any company’s Duty of Care to provide employees travelling abroad with a pre-travel briefing to furnish them with the correct road safety advice and ensure they are fully protected. It should form a critical element of their travel risk management policy.
“The pre-travel briefing, which employees should receive before booking their tickets, must include all the basics such as obeying speed limits, wearing seatbelts, not driving whilst tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, being vigilant as a pedestrian and cultural advice for driving in different countries if appropriate. It must also detail the procedures to follow and numbers to call if they are involved in a road traffic accident. This might be local emergency services or your insurer’s crisis response centre.”