From 2011–2019, 846 workers ages 16–24* died in motor vehicle crashes at work, accounting for 26% of all work-related deaths in this age group.1 This week, as we observe National Teen Driver Safety Week, we share recommendations to reduce these preventable deaths by keeping young workers that perform driving duties as part of their job safe behind the wheel.
Use the following recommendations to set workplace policies and programs that promote safe driving for young workers.
- Comply with labor laws that limit young workers’ driving. In non-agricultural jobs workers must be at least 17 years old to drive for work, but their driving is limited by Federal law. Workers ages 18 and older can drive on the job, but those under age 21 may not drive a commercial motor vehicle across state lines.
- Ensure young drivers have a state license valid for the type of driving their work will require. Be aware of your state’s graduated driver licensing requirements. Young drivers in the U.S. receive their licenses in stages; requirements and restrictions, such as number of passengers in the vehicle and nighttime driving, vary by state.
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- Check driving records and remind young drivers they must always obey traffic laws. Ensure the young driver has no record of moving violations, impaired driving, and license suspensions at the time of hire. Stress the importance of driving at an appropriate speed and keeping a safe distance from other vehicles. Explain that a speed appropriate for road conditions (such as wet roads) is often less than the posted speed limit.
- Provide the safest possible vehicle for young drivers to use. Select vehicles that have good crash-test ratings and keep them in proper operating condition.
- Provide driver training. Training should include making young drivers aware of the safety features of the vehicle they will be driving. You can also schedule on-the-road driving sessions to assess driving skills and to help recognize traffic risks, anticipate risky situations, and reinforce company driving policies.
- Require the use of seat belts at all times. Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. They must be worn in the front and the back seats – every trip, every time.
- Prevent distracted driving. Ban all cell phone use while driving a company vehicle, and make sure cell phones and other electronic devices are off and out of sight. Ask young drivers to make necessary adjustments (such as adjusting mirrors, seat or radio controls) to the car before driving. Require workers to pull over in a safe location if they must text, make a call, or search for directions.
- Prevent impaired driving. Set policies that prohibit operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription and over-the-counter medications that could affect the ability to drive safely.
- Conduct periodic driving records checks after hiring. You can also conduct on-the-road driving evaluations to check any risky driving behaviors and areas for improvement.
- Make sure that a driver is of age, properly trained, and licensed before allowing them to operate a truck or bus. Remember: commercial driver’s licenses for operation of large trucks or buses are generally issued only to persons 21 years of age and older.
Visit NIOSH’s Young Drivers at Work webpage for more information and resources for employers.