What began in 2002 as a comprehensive global vehicle safety program for Monsanto’s business drivers has broadened in scope, making road safety a component of Monsanto’s commitment to corporate social responsibility.
While attention to road safety by most companies stops where their direct influence ends, Monsanto is among a select number of enterprises that understand driving is likely an employee’s riskiest daily activity. Monsanto views road safety as an aspect of employee well-being, community outreach and global sustainability.
Monsanto’s recognition of road safety as a global imperative is supported by predictions made by the United Nations. From a worldwide perspective and left unchecked, traffic-related crashes, injuries and fatalities will result in significant social and economic costs, especially among low and middle income countries. Annual global traffic-related fatalities are forecast to grow from 1.3 million in 2008 to almost 2 million by 2020. This increase will be accompanied by up to 100 million severe injuries and consume up to 4% of a low income nation’s GNP in 2020.
Monsanto has put into practice its commitment to road safety by producing safe driving campaigns for all Monsanto employees, resourcing off-the-job safety, supporting community novice driver training programs and participating in road safety conferences. It also took an important step in 2004 when it became a member of the board of directors of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). This global NGO is a private-public partnership, employer-led, and dedicated to road safety. In its role as a member of NETS’ board of directors, Monsanto saw the need to provide employers with a platform for discussing road safety issues and sharing best practices.
To this end, in 2007, Monsanto broadened NETS’ capabilities by initiating and providing start-up funding for an annual, comprehensive and global fleet safety benchmark program and benchmark conference. This has proven to be a successful strategic initiative. Since 2007, NETS’ benchmark program has more than doubled in size and in 2011 collected and analyzed data from almost 500,000 vehicles driving more than ten billion miles in 128 countries. The benchmark program also yields best practices, which are shared among NETS’ members.
Monsanto’s road safety metrics make it a leader among the benchmarking companies. The 2010 NETS member crash rate average was 8.08 per million miles. Compared to this 2010 benchmark average, Monsanto’s rate of 3.79 resulted in 725 fewer crashes, thus reducing the risk of injury and death to Monsanto’s business drivers and providing cost savings of at least US$11 million.
Through its association with NETS and the success enjoyed by the benchmark program, Monsanto has become involved in two important road safety projects. Monsanto and other NETS members will work with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop an employer-led model for increasing seat belt use in the USA. In addition, Monsanto will assist the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in a project to improve the safety standards of new cars manufactured in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The IDB project results from NETS’ participation in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020. This global initiative is under the auspices of the World Health Organization and was formed to slow the growing losses from road crashes, injuries, and fatalities. NETS is a member of the steering committee leading this global initiative. The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 provides the framework for Monsanto and other companies to model corporate road safety and to advocate for safer drivers and vehicles, improved roadway infrastructure and capacity, as well as enhanced post-crash care.
This article was excerpted from Monsanto’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. The full report is available on Monsanto.com.
Photograph by Kim Newburg via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.