Driver risk assessment, monitoring and improvement is important to organisations requiring their people to travel – for business, legal, financial, safety and even societal reasons.
As a basic compliance-led starting point, the Health & Safety Executive Guidance Driving at work: managing work-related road safety says: “Organisations need to risk assess the safety of their drivers, vehicle and journeys.”
Risk assessments for any work-related driving activity should follow the same principles as those for any other work activity. They should identify and document potential hazards, assess who might be harmed and take reasonable measures to help protect drivers from harm.
A range of approaches are available for driver risk assessment, including combinations of in-vehicle assessments, psychometric tests and online assessments. Each is important, depending on the nature of the work and operating environment.
Over the past decade, a number of online programmes have been developed promising many benefits – particularly around costs compared to face-to-face assessments, reduced ‘time off the tools’ for employees and lower risks.
Online tools allow everyone who drives on business to be included in a programme that traditionally may have catered only for specialist commercial vehicle drivers.
An online assessment programme requires drivers to log on to a secure internet portal and answer a series of questions, which will then generate a ranking. More often than not, this ranking is based on red, amber and green traffic lights to symbolise high, medium and low risk drivers which can then be utilised in the following situations:
- Pre-employment: recruitment pre-screening, at interview, during induction and for new employee training.
- Current staff: part of the permit-to-drive process, for selecting instructors and assessors, to evaluate training needs and review the success of training and for post-collision investigation purposes.
- To drive policy and process compliance, allocate company and hire cars, engage drivers in cash-for-car and own-vehicle schemes, underwriting and vehicle hire.
Depending on the background and origins of the online assessment supplier, the emphasis and content of the various assessment tools available will vary.
Typically, most tools focus on the exposure levels of the driver, the type of vehicle they use and journeys they undertake, as well as testing combinations of their attitude, behaviour, knowledge and hazard perception. Interventions such as feedback, training, workshops or one-to-ones will then be allocated on the basis of the risks identified.
Participants identified as high risk on the assessment are the same drivers who have the highest collision rate. It gives the organisation the opportunity to undertake relevant next steps and interventions.
Online risk assessments have traditionally worked in the following way:
- Driver profile, a question-based review of each participant’s personal risk exposure, the vehicle they drive and the journeys they make. As well as good practice, it also helps meet health and safety requirements for risk assessment in line with the HSE guidance mentioned above.
- Defensive driving, a question-based assessment of participant attitude, behaviour, knowledge of the Highway Code and hazard perception on the road.
- Driver feedback, which reviews participant responses, providing good practice guidance, details of next steps and completion certificates.
Data should then feed into an online management system, with recommendations for appropriate interventions made.
BT’s online assessment and engagement process has involved more than 80,000 employees since 2001. As compliance has increased and programmes have become more robust, its claim rate and costs have reduced.
The company has also successfully used its risk assessment programme to drive organisational policy and process by working with line managers and drivers to promote compliance and target interventions on the basis of risk resulting in safer travel.
Online risk assessments are only part of a risk management system focusing on policy, compliance, leadership, mobility management, driver well-being, vehicle management, collision management and stakeholder engagement.
They are also being integrated with information from other sources, such as collisions and claims, licence checks, in-vehicle telemetry systems, fuel, tyres, observed violations, tachographs and training, to provide an overall picture of risks from which effective interventions can be developed.