Fleet News

Fleet Risk Management: The eight stage plan

1. BENCHMARKING

To have any hope of ending up where you need to be you have to work out where you are to start with, something that can only really be done by carrying out a benchmarking exercise. The parameters for this will come from various sources:

  1. The fleet industry accepted averages for incident and claims rates, accidents per 1000 kms etc.
  2. Data that is specific to your industry or market sector.
  3. Parameters that your organisation sets for itself and are relevant to this programme.

2. SETTING OBJECTIVES

Once the benchmarking is complete you need to decide what are acceptable and achievable targets for the programme. Don't expect results overnight. A professionally deployed, targeted driver risk management programme will yield results but for a large organisation it might take three years to realise its full potential in terms of savings. It's not something you can switch on and off and expect to pick up where you left off.

However, all things being equal, it would not be unreasonable to expect savings/reduction in incidents/improvements in the order of 20% in year one, a further 25% in year two and another 15% in year three.

3. CHOOSING A SUPPLIER

There are a number of reputable driver risk management suppliers in the UK but you need to select one that can provide a wide range of interventions and is willing to tailor a specific programme to your needs. There is no 'one size fits all solution' in this business and you should certainly shy away from anybody who suggests practical, in-vehicle training for all.

There are a few ‘must haves’ though.

If practical training is likely to be one of the requirements, you should ensure that this will only be carried out by fully qualified Approved Driving Instructors who are on the DSA Fleet Register.  There must be geographical coverage to meet your needs too.

As the customer, you need to be in possession of real time information about the status of the risk that exists in your fleet. Most driver risk management suppliers can only provide a series of static snapshots of the situation on demand but AA DriveTech can provide you with Management Information Reports that are dynamic and reflect changes to driver risk status as they occur.

How do they do this? By having a series of data feeds into what is arguably the most comprehensive driver risk management tool in the business. If a driving licence check reveals a driver has received points on his licence, you’ll get a report..........if a driver has a collision the accident management data will be relayed and you’ll get a report......if a road user reports bad driving behaviour by an employee, you’ll get a report........if the fuel card data suggests heavy fuel use by an individual driver, you’ll get a report......and so on. The system not only monitors and responds to risk status in a truly dynamic way, it also suggests a remedy for the hard pressed fleet manager.

The supplier should be able to demonstrate good customer retention and be happy to provide references. Evidence of trade recognition in the form of awards is re-assuring but not essential, whereas a recognised ISO accreditation should be considered vital.

The supplier should be willing to sign up to a service level agreement, which should be far more than just a set of terms and conditions. If they are not willing to formalise the arrangement in this way it suggests they don't have the courage of their convictions and there are going to be all sorts of excuses for non performance to come.

But, as with so many things in life, the final decision will be mainly influenced by the 'chemistry' between the individuals who have day to day contact during the term of the relationship.

4. POLICIES

Apart from the fact that your drivers have to have some guidance on what is expected of them when they are driving for business purposes, the authorities would take a very dim view if they had cause to investigate an incident and found that you had no duty of care-related policies in place.

Your risk management provider should be able to help ensure that you cover all the salient points but the most important consideration of all is to have a mechanism that demonstrates that each driver has been given access to the policies and accepts that it is their responsibility to comply.

5. GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS

There's something odd about refresher driver training for business drivers. Suggesting you need training is like touching a raw nerve. For many it's one step short of being labelled as a rubbish driver. And in most cases the reason they think like this is because the reason for implementing the programme was never explained properly and clearly in the first place.

It just isn't enough to send an email out saying 'A decision has been made and like it or not, we're doing it'. You need to spell out why you're implementing the programme, exactly what's involved and how it will affect the people in your employ. You will almost certainly need to separately motivate line or departmental managers to support you and you'll also need the obvious backing of the Chairman, CEO or Managing Director.

You will also most certainly require face-to-face meetings or workshops to fully get the point home, perhaps supported by demonstrations from the supplier, and these should backed up by dedicated information pages on a secure area of the company website or intranet, together with regular information updates in company or departmental newsletters.

You just can't communicate enough when it comes to the sensitive subject of driving ability but, however you do it, you must emphasise that nobody is singled out, nobody is being criticised and the benefits are both company-wide and for the individual. Driving is, after all, a life skill.

6. DRIVER ASSESSMENT OR PROFILING

It's a mandatory requirement of Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to carry out a 'suitable & sufficient risk assessment of every risk to employees' and this includes driving for any form of work purpose.

There are many different types and styles of risk assessment, and as yet no British Standard for them. Some are psychometric- based and some merely factual. Some include attitude to risk scenario assessments and some are merely jumped-up hazard perception tests, little better than the one in the driving test. Some are worth so little that the suppliers give them away.

Whichever one you chose, at least you've fulfilled the minimum legal requirement and, providing you have documentary evidence to support that, you're halfway to doing enough to appease the authorities should there be an investigation following a serious incident involving one of your drivers.

The better assessments not only categorise drivers into risk bands so that the highest risk group can be identified and given the appropriate support as a priority but also propose a specific training need.

7. APPROPRIATE TRAINING

The point of the assessment is to identify those who are likely to be more at risk than others, so that you can apply the most appropriate form of training to reduce that risk. As mentioned earlier, this does not always need to be relatively expensive in-vehicle practical training. A lot of very worthwhile training can be delivered via online modules, particularly those involving multi-media, and they are invariably good value, particularly as the driver can complete the modules when and where he or she pleases.

Group workshops or seminars are also effective and represent good value on a per head basis. The advantage here is that there is as much, if not more, interactivity as there would be an in-vehicle situation. As with all training, the watchwords are ‘appropriate’ and ‘targeted’.

A failsafe way to ensure that you are covering all the bases and minimising the risk of corporate culpability is to go one step further and mandate that all those who drive for business purposes have to obtain a ’Permit to Drive’, which is available from some leading driver risk management suppliers.

8. ONGOING PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Whatever the exact nature of the programme, it needs monitoring and managing if it is to be effective. Your supplier should be providing you with regular reports on who has been assessed and who has been trained. Your insurer or accident management provider should be providing you with before and after incident data. In fact some systems combine all these inputs so that all the information is available on screen with just a couple of mouse clicks.

For bigger fleets, where the programme is not only complex but could be developing all the time, it's not unreasonable to expect the supplier to attend regular review meetings to discuss performance and modifications to the programme.

Author: Steve Johnson, Principal, Autoproactive


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