With auto-related accidents contributing to absenteeism and lost workplace productivity, accident prevention is a key component of corporate wellness, said Fernand Vartanian, general counsel and head of corporate development at Onlia Holding Inc., during Benefits Canada’s 2021 Benefits & Pension Summit.

Traditionally, corporate wellness programs have focused on areas such as mental health, stress management and physical well-being. “The good news is the stats have shown these programs work,” he said. “It’s a win-win for employers and employees. If you have happier employees, they’re more productive and that leads to corporate financial improvement.”

While strategies emphasizing employee health have proven effective, few employers account for the impact of auto collisions, said Vartanian, citing Statistics Canada data showing economic losses from collision-related costs and lost productivity are estimated at $10 billion per year. “I was shocked at the impact of bad driving at the plan sponsor level and what it does to both employees and employers.”

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In fact, a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed, between 2003-2018, motor vehicle crashes at work were the first or second leading cause of death in every major industry group. And that isn’t including crashes involving employees travelling to and from work, noted Vartanian.

Among the leading causes of collisions in Canada are aggressive driving, distracted driving — responsible for 21 per cent of fatal collisions and 27 per cent of serious injury collisions in 2016 — and speeding, the latter of which accounts for 27 per cent of fatalities on residential streets, according to Transport Canada.

Employers can help employees develop better driving habits by using “nudge theory” as part of a corporate wellness strategy, said Vartanian. Onlia has launched an app that does just that by helping users improve their driving and receive rewards for good behaviour on the road, including group insurance discounts.

“Through nudge theory, we encourage people to drive in an undistracted way and we reward them for it. There’s ways of introducing this at the plan sponsor level through a group insurance perspective.”

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