Published On: Mon, Jun 28th, 2021

Research study examines work-related traffic deaths and remote work

As people get vaccinated, many workplaces are starting to end remote work and are bringing employees back to the office. 

A study conducted by Michael French, Ph.D., a professor and chair of University of Miami’s Health Management and Policy department, and Gulcin Gumus, Ph.D., an associate professor in Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business, analyzed work-related traffic deaths and their findings could support the argument in favor of remote work. 

They found that the number of work-related traffic deaths can be directly related the current economic status with fewer work-related traffic deaths occurring during a recession and a steady increase during the period of economic recovery.

“If the pandemic leads to more remote work, we’re likely to see economic business cycles have less of an impact on work-related traffic crashes in the years ahead,” Gumus told the FAU News Desk. “This is important not only for workers and employers, but also for bystanders, who make up the great majority of fatalities in such collisions.”

The study defines a work-related traffic crash as one that involves a vehicle that is registered as a business, company, or government vehicle. The researchers used data from all 50 states between the years 2004 and 2012 but focused specifically on the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009. Data from the pandemic spurred recession was not used as it is still incomplete.

“The economic collapse in 2020 and the early part of 2021 was different than the Great Recession and is certain to reveal new insights on how business cycles affect work-related traffic fatalities,” French said.

The study identified traffic accidents as one of the leading causes of occupational deaths. They identified that drunk driving is not a factor in this data but highlights factors such higher traffic volumes and more stressful driving conditions as a reason for more work-related accidents. 

“Back in the early 2000s, the CDC recommended that employers develop and implement programs to purchase safe vehicles and encourage safer driving among its employees,” the study stated. “At the present time, employers can take this recommendation a step further by introducing autonomous vehicles or shifting some of their workforce to virtual offices, which may be far more effective in reducing occupational death and injuries.”

About the Author

Gillian Manning - Gillian is a senior studying Multimedia Journalism and Communication Studies at Florida Atlantic University. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief at the University Press.

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