All organizations that have employees who drive on work purposes have a responsibility to manage the safety of their fleet. Whether employees are permanent staff or contractors, vehicles are company-owned, leased/hired or employee-owned, and regardless of the type of vehicle, organizations have a duty of care both to the safety of their employees and to the wider public.
Every year around 1.35 million people die in road crashes globally. Millions more suffer serious, life-changing injuries. Crashes have devastating consequences for families and communities. Across the world, at-work drivers and vehicles are involved in a significant number of crashes, but there are some simple measures that organizations can implement to address their road risk, no matter the size of the organization or budget.
Below are a few things that are essential to managing the safety of your fleet:
Senior Management Buy-in
Gaining the support of senior management can be a challenge, but it’s vital to the success of a fleet safety programme. You may have legal obligations in relation to health and safety at work laws, but organizations also have a social and moral responsibility to keep their staff and the public safe on the road. What’s more, investing in fleet safety can save you much more long-term. After a collision, the costs to an organization can include: increased insurance premiums; vehicle downtime; lost productivity; employee sick leave; missed sales; damaged or lost stock; and damage to reputation. By reducing incidents you can reduce costs for your organization.
Once you’ve gained management support, it’s important to maintain and utilize it. Ensure all employees, including senior staff, follow the same fleet safety policies and procedures. This helps to maintain a strong fleet safety culture across the organization.
Fleet Safety Policy
Whether standalone or incorporated into your health & safety policy, having a fleet safety policy is a key first step to addressing your road risk. This should set out what your organization will do to address safety and who has responsibility for it, including senior management, managers/supervisors and drivers.
Record and report all incidents, including near misses. By reporting these, and analyzing the data, you can identify some key risks, any trends in incidents and vehicles/ drivers/routes involved, and then use this information to target driver, vehicle and journey safety interventions where they’re needed in order to reduce incidents.
Drivers, Vehicles, and Journeys
It’s important to implement measures that address all aspects of road risk:
• Drivers – including recruitment, induction, training and ongoing assessment/monitoring.
• Vehicles – from procurement through to maintenance/ servicing and exit from the fleet.
• Journeys – plan journeys and scheduling to reduce risk and even overall distance travelled.
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and there is an increasing number of systems available that aim to improve vehicle and driver safety. These include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), capable of identifying safety-critical situations and either warning the driver to take action, or taking direct control of the vehicle to correct the danger.
Many organizations have implemented telematics systems, which typically track driver behaviour and vehicle performance, such as recording instances of speeding, harsh braking and cornering, and including GPS navigation. Simply putting a system in place isn’t enough however; as with recording incidents, the data needs to be analyzed and used to target interventions appropriately.
We’re also seeing systems expanded to include newer technology such as Driver Distraction and Drowsiness Recognition (DDDR), to identify distraction and fatigue at the wheel. Telematics companies are also using gamification to engage drivers in improving their own behavior on the road. This enables drivers to compete against each other, or against other teams, within their own organization and externally, to be the safest driver.
The development of connected and autonomous vehicles is also creating further opportunities to improve safety. However increased technology and automation also presents challenges, such as the potential for increased driver distraction in the vehicle.
Rewarding and Penalizing
There are benefits to rewarding good driving as well as penalising poor driver behaviour. The data you collect and systems you have in place should help you to identify low and high-risk drivers and target interventions accordingly. If drivers are identified as high risk, or involved in an incident, this should be addressed e.g. a meeting with their manager to discuss why the incident happened and how it could be avoided in future, or through additional training.
Some organizations use competitions to help incentivize drivers, for example a team that has no over-speeds in a monthly period is given a free lunch. Others reward individual drivers, for example a gift voucher for the safest driver each month or quarter.
There are lots of potential measures to implement, but even if you’re a small fleet with limited budget there are simple things you can do to start addressing your risk, such as gaining senior management buy-in, writing a fleet safety policy and looking at the data you collect, to help you analyze your risk and create targeted interventions.
Where organizations are implementing measures to address safety, many are seeing convincing results, reducing the number of incidents and costs involved, and most importantly, helping to save lives and reduce injuries on roads.
Brake is a road safety charity working to prevent road deaths and injuries and make communities safer and providing free support to families affected by crashes. Brake administers Global Fleet Champions, a global campaign to prevent crashes and reduce pollution caused by vehicles used for work, by sharing best practice in road risk management.
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