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Insight: Effective risk management

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We’ve all been late for an appointment, a little flustered and trying to make up time while thinking of what we need to do when we reach the destination.

Suddenly, a car pulls out from a side road and there’s a huge collision.

The worst has happened and the company driver and other driver die in the accident.

But is this an accident or an avoidable risk? Was the company driver travelling too fast, or not concentrating, and was the car in a fit state to be on the road?

The tragedy of this common situation – one-third of all road deaths or serious injuries involve an at-work driver while there are nine people killed and 100 injured on our roads every day – is that the scale of the problem is very considerable.

There is also the aftermath of a fatal collision to deal with on a human and corporate level.

Families and friends of both drivers are left bereaved and wondering why such a pointless incident killed their loved one.

The company also has to deal with the loss of an employee, someone who was a friend as well as a colleague, and the company may also be under scrutiny from the police for the driver’s actions and condition of the vehicle.

From a business perspective, there is also the financial toll of an at-work vehicle collision.

There is damage to third party property, damage to the load in a van, administrative costs, legal costs, increased insurance premiums and possibly even potential fines if the company is found at fault for breaching legislation.

The fallout from an at-work collision is huge and, while it is difficult for anyone involved in such a tragedy to comprehend what has happened, there are steps that fleet managers and company drivers can take to mitigate against such a situation arising in the first place.

A robust, effective risk management programme should be part of every fleet’s systems and process, no matter if you run a handful of cars and vans or a complex network of thousands of vehicles.

It also applies just as much to grey fleet drivers, so a company cannot avoid its obligations simply because the vehicle is not owned directly by them.

Risk assessment is not something to merely pay lip service to because legal requirements or company policy.

It is something everyone should be part of, from the most senior level of a company’s management to the drivers at the wheel of company vehicles.

Bob Holbrey, technology director for fleet management specialist FMG, says: “If you adopt high standards for risk assessment, it has ongoing benefits.

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