Driving change: How to train your fleet
In recent years, road safety has been climbing government – and corporate – agendas but, despite best efforts, key targets have not been met.
Over the past decade, the number of people losing their lives on EU roads per year decreased 23 per cent, according to the European Commission.
Some countries have made huge strides, namely Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the three Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) and Croatia, who recorded higher-than-average reductions (between 30 and 40 per cent) of road fatalities.
Although this is a significant reduction, it does not deliver against the EU’s 50% target of reduced road deaths between 2010 and the end of 2020.
The EU average is 51 deaths per million inhabitants and it is estimated that, for every 1 life lost, 5 more people suffer serious injuries with life-changing consequences – that’s 120,000 people per year!
With deaths and serious injury rates still high, and progress in recent years slowing, the EU has ramped up its efforts and set its sights on a new 50% reduction target for deaths and, for the first time, also for serious injuries by 2030.
Some reports suggest that people who drive for work are statistically more likely to be involved in a collision, and therefore managing road risk should be a top priority for politicians and for all businesses who operate a mobile workforce.
Here, we look at how companies can do their bit to help the EU and individual governments to achieve their road safety objectives, through improved standards, diligent risk management, and more effective accident management … but, most importantly, how you can keep your people safer and at less risk of injury.
In this article, it is understood that different country laws apply and that businesses (or some managers within them) don’t always see the relevance, but here we take a ‘best practice’ approach which could, and should, apply wherever you are in the world.
Counting everyone in
When it comes to risk management and road safety policies, there is one grey area that is particularly problematic.
For many businesses, a disconnect exists between what is expected of company car drivers and employees who use their own car for work.
Privately-owned vehicles driven for work purposes, which are not owned, leased or rented by employers, are greater than the number of company cars on European roads, yet fleet management for these vehicles is often overlooked.
Employers have a duty of care to their people, so that includes anyone driving (and any vehicle driven) for business purposes. Out-of-sight should not mean out-of-mind and risk management for mobile workers – both company vehicle drivers and private car drivers – should be taken just as seriously as on-site work-related safety.
Businesses must create a clearly defined road safety policy, applying to all drivers, with a ‘driving for work’ policy, which details everything from high-level goals to the code of conduct expected of every employee. This should include employees driving for work purposes, whether in company-owned or private vehicles, and should cover everything from driver fatigue and distracted driving to alcohol misuse.
All drivers, both private car and company vehicle drivers, should be made aware from the start that they are expected to abide by the policy and that concessions are not made simply because a vehicle is privately-owned.
Risk assessments should be carried out, not only at recruitment stage, but periodically thereafter and should include the checking of relevant documentation such as licences, driver training records and fitness-to-drive records.
This offers an opportunity to identify safety compromises at an early stage and demonstrates to employees that road risk – and employee safety – plays a key role in workplace health and wellbeing.
Driving home the safety message
The success of road risk management strategies is heavily dependent on continuous communication and employee buy-in.
An ad-hoc or disjointed approach will not be sufficient to effect real change and improve standards, so messages and measures need to be clear and consistent.
From regular driver training to offering up-to-date road safety advice, efforts should be made to underline the company’s dedication to improving road safety and reinforce that, in order to achieve this, a high standard and responsible driving style is expected from all employees.
Businesses may look at introducing simple measures, such as requiring all employees to conduct vehicle safety checks, including walk-around checks and regular inspections.
This will help to identify any potential vehicle faults early-on and will reinforce the concept of shared responsibility.
Offering regular advice and guidance via regular communications, workshops and training, can also ensure that the issue of road safety is continually kept at the forefront of drivers’ minds.
Look for red flags
Taking a proactive approach to accident management by identifying, understanding and mitigating key risks is critical.
As a starting point, companies should seek to establish individual driver profiles and risk ratings.
Risk profiles of drivers can be built using telematics data and online driver assessment tools that cover such areas as hazard perception, driving regulations, observation and attitude.
Performance monitoring and reporting information offers actionable insights, by recording and reporting all incidents, such as speeding, harsh braking or acceleration. This offers fleet decision makers full visibility of their drivers when they are driving.
Tailored training, from e-learning courses, in-car training sessions, and workshops, can then be introduced to develop better habits and ultimately improve driver behaviour.
Make safer driving interesting. Consider introducing a competition, with performance league tables and/or prizes, which may encourage drivers to participate, as it taps into the competitive side of human nature. Any prizes should be easily funded by the reduction in accident and insurance costs over time. This approach can also help improve social wellbeing amongst the driver population, as they receive praise and recognition from their peers.
When it comes to incidents that lead to an accident, a root cause analysis should always conducted, so that lessons can be learned and recommendations made on further action and training. This is a key moment for intervention, support and training to make sure that your employee really understands the danger and an accident doesn’t happen again.
A helping hand
Companies often have limited resources but this should not prevent road risk from being effectively managed.
There are portals on the market that can help companies more easily identify and manage risk.
These solutions include services such as licence checking, risk assessments, policy agreements and e-learning for company and private vehicle drivers, with companies receiving valuable insights and actionable feedback.
By using an outsourced risk solution, companies can eliminate laborious processes and protect their resources, allowing focus to be redirected to other business-critical areas.
On the right path
Prudent businesses know that road risk management is not just a tick-box exercise but a way of improving safety and protecting their drivers, other road users and the reputation of the company.
Effective road safety management can see businesses benefit from a reduction in downtime, a fall in at-fault accidents, improved insurance premiums and lower fuel spend.
As we emerge from the pandemic, efficiency and cost control are key business priorities, so improving road safety should be seen in the wider context of protecting the interests of the business – as well as keeping people safe.