Cars, vans, trucks: each require different levels of skill and knowledge to manage effectively and efficiently, but each has one common denominator. The driver.
Whether the priority is safety, cost efficiency, environmental responsibility or any other area of driving culture, every type of fleet ought to take a similar approach to their drivers.
Except they don’t. A truck fleet, with its O-Licence and CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) demands, often employs a far more comprehensive approach to driver management. They have to because of the legislation.
However, the consequences arising from an incident caused by a car driver and one caused by a truck driver amount to much the same – and it’s nothing to do with legislation. Injury (perhaps death), vehicle damage and downtime, a hike in insurance premiums and third-party costs are all possible outcomes.
Allied Bakeries, the parent company of such household names as Kingsmill, Burgen and Sunblest bread, has a fleet of 750 vehicles, ranging from 7.5-tonne rigid trucks to 44-tonne tractor/trailer combos.
Highly commended in the recent Fleet Safety Forum awards organised by road safety charity Brake, the company set out on its journey to protect and improve the well-being of its drivers four years ago.
Many of its initiatives are transferrable to van and car fleets; certainly the most professional operations will already be doing some – or all – of them.
At the core of Allied Bakeries’ safety policy is its driver debrief, dubbed ‘DAVE’ – Driver And Vehicle Evaluation.
This computer-based system brings together key information from telematics, route planning and sales data to enable front line managers to carry out a meaningful and accurate debrief with each driver every time they return from their route.
DAVE measures nine elements, including direct driving performance such as harsh braking, unscheduled stops and engine idling, plus service-based elements, such as number of calls made, the sequence of deliveries, reconciliation of deliveries and delivery windows met.
After an initial trial in May 2011, DAVE was rolled out across the business 12 months ago.
“We are seeing driver performance changing as a result. The number of red incidents is reducing,” says Allied Bakeries national logistics manager Paul Hannant.
“It gives us a one-stop shop with all the information brought together. It was important to make it user-friendly, that’s why we went with red, amber, green status, which allowed us to focus on performance.”
Allied Bakeries’ fleet is spread across the UK at 10 manufacturing sites and nine depots. As such, it was vital to ensure all managers were able to follow a consistent process when carrying out debriefs.
Jo Pearce, national health and safety adviser, says: “We wanted to ensure that all of our drivers were being treated equally and that managers had the information available on screen to be able to address poor performance areas before a serious incident occurred.”