Fleet News

Fleet200 Roundtable Views - June 2012

Table 1

Managing driver behaviour – safety, environment, damage

How can training help to influence driving behaviour?

Broadly, the kick of point of the discussion agreed with the context and theme of the morning’s presentations. Training is useful within the context of wider understanding of driver behaviour. Telematics was seen to be a useful means to control behaviour.

Increasingly, risk assessment is based on driver experience. Businesses don’t want to train.
If the ideal to benchmark against was discussed during the morning, the Fleet representatives felt that the controls in place were reactive to specific incidents. Drivers knew the consequences if they were unable to control their behaviour. Points, loss of license, loss of job etc..

What have you done and how successful has it been?

Training and outcomes should be seen and measured within a business need and business compliance policy. Cost saving/analysis can be made around accidents, insurance costs and profits and costs incurred around residual values of all vehicles.

How do you measure and monitor success and ensure it is long-lasting?

Fleet safety manger had built success on activities undertaken after an internal audit around duty of care. Her role was seen as inspiring business and wider environment. Not just as a means to save on costs.

Safety record speaks for itself. There were a number of schemes in place to encourage this. KPI measures have seen the number of accidents and incidents declining over time.

Practical driving behaviour, should reach across a whole organisation and then benchmarked against to understand and explore why incidents occur.

There should be more measures to reward good driving, rather than just intervention controls post event. Cash for low mileage etc.

How often do you reassess staff for training needs?

There is no agreed industry training reassessment period. Training and formal reviews/training are undertaken every couple of years, depending on the business. However, there tended to be reactive measures to explore specific training needs based around: receiving 6 points on license, speeding offences, repeat or serious incidents etc.

Table 2

Tackling Problematic Drivers

Key Points

  • Time was a key issue highlighted, that fleet managers do not have the time to look at drivers on an individual basis
  • Cross-function roles make it difficult to be able to target drivers, equally whose responsibility is it to discipline drivers?
  • It was agreed that buy-in from the board was the first step, setting out a disciplinary procedure and having everyone agree to it.
  • Raising awareness that drivers are being watched was seen to improve overall driver performance and safety especially that there are consequences to their actions. Too many drivers think they can get away with it.
  • It was discussed that many fleets are not aware that insurance companies can offer advice and help on managing risk and they have specialist teams in place to assist businesses, usually free of charge.
  • We agreed that it was not just about having a robust policy in place, but also the reinforcement of it was equally important.
  • The importance of licence checking was emphasised and the fact that many companies may have banned drivers and don’t know about it.
  • A fleet manager stressed that their sales people did not respond well to a ‘stick’ approach and incentives worked much better.
  • On the subject of corporate manslaughter, the table believe there are too many differences between the views of the insurance company, the driver and the company on what makes a driver culpable and more clarity was needed.
  • Consistency was a key point that companies need to treat all employees the same and follow the same disciplinary procedure if it is to be effective.

Table 3

Managing driver behaviour – the environment

How do you encourage drivers to choose greener, more fuel efficient vehicles?

  • CO2 caps are the most popular method. Some companies have a tiered approach such as different CO2 caps for different drivers/job grades or different caps depending on vehicle size (for example, 120g/km for a medium sized car).
  • It is possible to get drivers to choose low CO2 vehicles without putting a cap in place. One company that doesn’t want to restrict CO2 emissions shows the benefit in kind figure next to the vehicle on the choice list because it “concentrates the mind”. The fleet’s average emissions have been falling year on year.
  • A petrol only policy does encourage drivers to consider hybrids for tax reasons and better mpg figures, according to one attendee.
  • Manufacturers are playing a role as there is now a wide range of low emission vehicles.
  • Some organisations incentivise drivers to choose lower CO2 vehicles. For instance, drivers pay a lower contribution for private use if they choose a lower emission vehicle.
  • How important is the ‘green’ agenda for your drivers?
  • Attendees agreed that drivers are mainly motivated by tax/fuel costs. “Drivers see the pound sign before they see the CO2 figure”, one attendee said. They felt this was all drivers, not just fleet drivers.
  • Rising fuel price are making drivers want to downsize to vehicles with better mpg figures at one organisation.  Fleet managers have to contend with negative reactions from drivers sometimes. For instance, some view hybrids as unsafe due to the lack of noise. So fleet managers have to educate drivers.

How does this impact on your choice list?

  • Some of the newer hybrids tend to be high specced according to attendees and this can push costs up.
  • One organisation tries to provide the best range of vehicles within the CO2 emissions caps rather than restricting to a single model.
  • What policy changes are you planning?
  • Lowering the CO2 cap is the main change being planned.
  • One organisation is introducing a green driving module to their driver training programme asking drivers about fuel economy and fuel efficient driving.

Table 4

Plan to influence driver behaviour

Key issues

Company culture - top down messages are often at odds with the agenda for a safe, responsible driving environment.
Complacency of message - without the visibility of consequences for unacceptable driver behaviour it is difficult to implement and manage a programme to improve driver behaviour.

The key issues related to driver incidents are fatigue and distraction.

The plan

  1. Outline your expectations for good, acceptable and unacceptable driver behaviour at the outset and then refresh the message.
  2. Get the line manager on board with the cause and effect and therefore they must share responsibility for influencing driver behaviour.
  3. Obtain data to support improvements and justify actions. (telematics, incident rates, average cost per accident, yoy improvements, driver licence checking)
  4. Key measures: departmental performance KPIs, departmental recharges of at fault incident costs, recharges to drivers for abuse, Insurance cost reductions.
  5. Get the company on-board- safety groups, internal communications and top down endorsement and recognition of improvements.

Key initiatives delivered

  1. Fast reporting of incidents- output is lower insurance costs
  2. Ensure good engaged managers- output is yoy cost reductions on incidents.
  3. Constant measurement of van payload- removes unsafe journeys.
  4. Vehicle inspection- makes the driver responsible for damages and acts as a deterrent
  5. Grey fleet is an on-going issue as the visibility and consequences of poor driver behaviour are difficult to measure.

Table 5

Managing driver behaviour – Telematics

Key points

  • It is important to understand the reasons why telematics will be useful for the company.
  • Telematics is primarily used for operational efficiency and cost management.
  • The costs of telematics can be substantial; safety on its own will not pay for this.
  • Telematics doesn’t reduce accidents but allows you to begin a process of looking at safety and managing drivers.
  • Once you have the data you must act upon it because you can be culpable for failure of duty of care. If an accident happens with a driver who constantly speeds, the company is culpable if they have not acted on the information telematics provides. If you have it, you must use it.
  • Telematics can bombard you with information, companies need to find the right staff and then act upon it. Analysing telematics can become a full-time role.
  • The assumption is that technology is required to answer safety issues however the table believes that this is not the case. Driver awareness of accident costs and causes is the biggest influence on behaviour.
  • The key is not technology but culture within the company, bringing safety into the company as a culture will produce better drivers.
  • Telematics is not a safety decision it is an operational decision with a potential safety benefit. Significant on-costs can only be recouped operationally. Once you have it, it can help in safety.
  • Telematics might hl put it won’t be the key safety driver. Company culture is the key. Telematics makes a cultural decision a little easier to implement.

Table 6

What role should drivers take in vehicles maintenance checks?

  • They should be responsible for ensuring that the vehicle they are using is road worthy - not just as a company car driver but as a road user.
  • How can you encourage them to fulfil this role?
  • Communication (via staff handbooks, leaflets, noticeboards, intranet) and education (how to carry out certain checks ) via demonstrations/ ‘how to’ sessions.
  • Make messages timely (e.g. seasonal), relevant and focussed on ALL drivers whether company vehicle drivers or not.

How much responsibility do your fleet drivers currently take?

  • Difficult to answer – low accident/incident rate does not necessarily mean individuals are carrying out the required checks.
  • That said the sentiment was that it absolutely should be the responsibility of the driver to carry out the necessary checks and efforts to encourage this need to continue.

What checks can you put in place?

  • There are certain spot checks that can be done however the general consensus was that the resource required to accurately measure how many drivers are carrying out the required checks ; report on the data and act on it would be beyond current capacity.
  • The point was made that third party suppliers could be brought in to carry out certain checks (e.g. tyre tread depth) but perhaps employees with private cars would object to this and the fleet manager would need to be careful in how they position this so as not to be perceived as too ‘Big Brother’
  • It would also be challenging to do this efficiently with field based drivers.
  • Consider differences between car and van drivers
  • The general feeling seemed to be that car and van drivers may behave quite similarly, however according to the participants with HGVs on their fleet, drivers of HGVs were more likely to carry out regular checks and the beginning/end of a shift – as part of their core responsibilities. The consensus was that perhaps field based car and/or van drivers might view these as more of a ‘tick box’ exercise and may claim to have carried out certain checks even if they hadn’t.

Summary

  • The group felt that the biggest challenge in this area (to perhaps alleviate the need for regular checks) would be to get the required behaviour to become engrained amongst all employees as part of a wider ‘safety culture’ within the organisation.
  • Final thought: With modern cars we rely a lot more on what info comes up on the dashboard and perhaps means that many drivers assume that if there were a serious problem a warning light would appear, and maybe this means they are less inclined to carry out proactive checks.
  • Coupled with the fact that manufacturer service intervals are now longer might mean that issues go unnoticed for a significant period of time? Could manufacturers play a part in encouraging drivers to become more ‘hands on’?

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