The route to safer cross-border fleets (2/2)

 

Part one: Laying the foundations

International fleet businesses have much to contend with, from a cooling and uncertain global economy and the fallout of the new WLTP regime to the advent of mobility management, disruptive technologies and the electric vehicle revolution.

For some, such pressing matters can push road risk management considerations down the corporate agenda.

A slowing down, and in some cases stagnation, of road safety improvements, however, has strengthened the call for companies to do everything they can to ensure they have robust fleet risk control measure in place.

Globally, road traffic deaths are continuing to rise, despite progress being made in many countries to improve safety standards. Shining a spotlight on EU roads, statistics from ETSC (European Transport Safety Council) reveal that there are around 25,000 deaths a year, with virtually no improvement over the past three years. Widen the lens and World Health Organisation statistics put the latest worldwide annual fatality count at 1.35 million.

Anything other than a ‘ne plus ultra’ approach to fleet safety can cost businesses dearly Failings in this area can expose them to serious reputational, financial and, in some cases, legal repercussions. It can even prove business critical.

In the first of a two-part blog post, we consider some of the key considerations when adopting a best practice approach to fleet safety. Alongside this advice, fleet operators should remember to always take account of the local, country-specific, fleet and legislative environment when reviewing their risk strategies.

 

A policy obligation

Countries across the world have enshrined occupational health and safety and road safety compliance obligations in law. They are fundamental requirements, for example, in all EU Member States. The European Framework Directive 89/391/EEC on the health and safety of workers requires all employers to undertake risk assessments, according to its ‘principles of prevention’.

Consequently, as a first step, all organisations should have a comprehensively safety management policy, incorporating 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.

 

Understanding the risks

Risk assessments should act as the starting point for meaningful risk management programmes, helping to identify where problems lie and where gaps exist in company safety procedures and initiatives.

In accordance with the European Occupational Safety and Health Framework Directive, risk assessments should cover both the driver and the workplace.

Employees can be risk profiled based on a range of factors, including age, annual mileage, previous driver training and driving offences/licence endorsements.

These 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.

 

Painting a risk picture with actionable data

Risk profiles of drivers can also 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 from today’s more advanced telematics systems can automatically score drivers based on a range of incidents, including speeding, harsh braking or acceleration.

With such risk assessment data at hand, fleets are better able to address areas of concern and to target training effectively. Businesses must remember, however, that when processing and storing sensitive employee data, they must ensure they have the necessary supporting infrastructure and procedures in place. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) harmonised data privacy laws across Europe and in some areas, raised the bar in required standards.

 

Vehicle maintenance

For occupational drivers, their workplace is their vehicle and businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they are always roadworthy. This calls for robust processes for regular inspection, maintenance and repair.

Maintenance schedules recommended by vehicle manufacturers should be adhered to at a very minimum, while regular checks should also be made by drivers. The Health and Safety Executive in the UK recommends companies answer the following questions in their efforts to ensure vehicle are maintained in a ‘safe and fit condition’:

  • Do you ensure daily vehicle checks are carried out?
  • Is planned/preventive maintenance carried out in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations?
  • Do you ensure tyres and windscreen wipers are inspected regularly and replaced as necessary?
  • What procedures are there for reporting defects and are they remedied promptly?
  • How do you ensure maintenance and repairs are carried out to an acceptable standard?
  • Do you have a clear policy that unsafe vehicles should not be driven?

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, meanwhile, has advocated engaging drivers with use of the word ‘POWER’ to help drivers remember the necessary basic checks that are required – POWER standing for Petrol, Oil, Windows, Electrics, and Rubber.

As part of their road safety policies, companies with employees who drive their own vehicles for business should specify minimum standards for safety features, along with the maximum required vehicle age.

However, these steps on their own will rarely be sufficient to achieve best practice road safety standards and lasting change.

In the second part of our ‘safer fleets’ blog, Traxall’s expert consultants will examine data-driven strategies to mitigate risk and suggestions for promoting a company-wide safety culture.

 

 

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