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Driver safety programmes: a top concern for fleets?

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Charles Morriston, product manager, Driver Safety, Trimble Field Service Management (FSM), says driver safety programmes should be a top concern for fleets.

Driving is one of the most dangerous work activities that people can do. Research indicates that around 20 people are killed and 220 seriously injured every week in crashes involving someone who was driving, riding or otherwise using the road for work.

Organisations go to considerable lengths to ensure the health and safety of employees that are office-based but they also have a major responsibility to those employees who are out on the road and should therefore apply the same rigour to these drivers, particularly when they could be endangering their own lives and the lives of those around them. 

Poor driving can have a number of potential impacts on an organisation, starting of course with the logistical and emotional challenges of having to manage the after effects of an accident. But there can also be significant financial impacts.

One of the most important factors fleets must realise is that the average cost of an accident is many times more than just the cost of repair. In fact, for every £1 spent on the direct cost of an accident, up to £36 is spent on indirect costs. Indirect costs include loss of productivity, increased downtime when vehicles are off the road, higher insurance premiums and increased fuel costs. There may also be legal implications for the organisation.

Another consideration is the impact on the organisation’s brand.  In a recently commissioned survey across a range of Field Service Providers in the US, UK and Australia, it was reported that up to 96 per cent of organisations regard the field-based workforce to be the company face and up to 81 per cent strongly link driving skill to the public’s perception of the business.

Trimble’s Road Ahead report found that between 80 per cent of organisations see worker health and safety as a higher priority than 5 years ago. This is driven by a number of factors, including increased regulations and legislation (around for example lone workers and Duty of Care) but also by the need to minimise accident rates and insurance claims.

It is therefore important that businesses embed a culture of safe driving within their organisations, with a clearly articulated and communicated safety programme. These vary from simple initiatives, such as written policies, routinely checking drivers licenses’, providing regular briefings on how to drive more safely, driver awareness training (either in-house or outsourced) and technology.

Driver awareness training is key to safer driving but driver safety technology helps a business build on, and maintain, the benefits from that training. Driver safety technology monitors aggressive manoeuvres, such as hard acceleration, braking, turns and speed. With this data at hand, trends in driver behaviour can be highlighted and analysed allowing organisations to understand areas for improvement, to manage these areas by exception, and provide targeted training for those drivers who most need it.

Engaging drivers to become better drivers can be a challenging task but a well-managed programme of communication and change management is the best way to achieve success. Business examples include benchmarking drivers against each other and providing individual objectives for drivers so that they can improve as individuals.  Reward schemes for top drivers also prove effective.

Ultimately, the benefits of managing driver safety are considerable in terms of improving safety and productivity for the company and staff, and any reward or incentive for individuals to improve all helps to promote a safe driving culture across the organisation.


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