NCCI: Traffic accidents in WC add up to more lost time, severe, expensive
The findings are included in a new NCCI research brief that updates and expands on information published six years ago and offers resources for employers. The report also says that motor vehicle accidents are more likely to result in multiple claims, are more severe than the average workers' comp claim, and impact a diverse range of occupations.
A table ranking the top class codes for all motor vehicle accidents for accident years 2002-08 ranks clerical office employees second after salespersons or outside collectors.
"As reported in the prior study, a 1996 Bureau of Labor Statistics press release noted that in spite of the large share of highway fatalities that involved trucks, only approximately 40 percent of the victims were truck drivers," the report says. "Other top occupations involved workers driving or riding to various locations to perform their work. These include home health nurses, sales representatives, farm workers, police officers and other emergency service personnel, and managers and executives. This is still the case."
Multiple claims. "Workplace accidents that result in injuries to more than one worker are of special concern to employers," the report says. "Close to 6 percent of motor vehicle events are multiple-claim events, compared with 2.5 percent on average for all causes. More than 12 percent of motor vehicle claims are from multiple-claim events, compared with less than 6 percent for all causes."
The total incurred severity for accident claims from multiple-claim events was 15 percent higher than total incurred severity for motor vehicle claims from single-claim events, $27,489 compared to $23,827. That differs from total incurred severity for all causes of injury, which is typically the same for multiple-claim and single-claim events.
Costs. The share of losses is higher than the share of claims for motor vehicle injuries due to the disproportionate share of more severe workers' comp claim types, according to the report. These claims comprise just over 2 percent of all claims but 7 percent of losses. They also account for one-third of fatalities and 13 percent of permanent total injuries.
For each injury type except fatal, severities due to motor vehicle accidents are higher than for all claims. Temporary total injuries involving motor vehicle claims were 62 percent more costly while permanent total injuries were 64.5 percent more expensive than severity for all claims.
Claims from motor vehicle mishaps also have longer duration than other workers' comp claims, the authors said. Fewer vehicle-related claims were closed than average at both 24 and 60 months after the date of injury.
"For example, 24 months after date of injury, 78 percent of motor vehicle claims are closed, compared with 91 percent for all claims," the report says. "At 60 months, the difference is smaller -- 94 percent vs. about 97 percent -- but still fewer motor vehicle claims are closed."
Breaking it down further, closed motor vehicle claims at 60 months were 36 percent longer -- 153 days on average compared with 112 days for all claims. The duration for open and closed claims was 38 percent longer for motor vehicle claims compared to all claims, 195 days vs. 141 days.
Causes. Distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of traffic accidents and near misses, along with speeding and driver impairment. Impairment factors include drowsiness, alcohol, drugs, and illness.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation have developed a website dedicated to distracted driving. It cites three main sources of distracted driving:
- Manual -- taking hands off the steering wheel.
- Visual -- taking eyes off the road.
- Cognitive -- taking mind off driving.
"Text messaging involves all three types of distraction, which creates a much higher crash risk than other types of distracting activities," according to the report. "Talking on a cell phone increases the risk of a crash four-fold, but texting creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving while not distracted."
As the authors explain, the average driver who texts takes his eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, equal to traveling the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour. Text messaging while driving is banned in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Ten states and D.C. prohibit using handheld cellphones while driving.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
February 18, 2013
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