Ask most drivers to rate their driving and the answer will range from realistic to optimistic but will be rarely less than positive.
It is an emotive subject.
For fleet managers to assess and measure driver behaviour and, where necessary, take remedial action, is a task that requires strategy, tact and excellent communication.
Doing nothing, however, is not an option.
“A company has to fulfil duty of care to that driver. By the end, it is not seen as punishment, but as a training opportunity. It is coaching rather than instructing,” says Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) development manager Jayne Bartlett.
Duty of care and corporate manslaughter legislation make companies responsible for the people they ask to drive on their behalf – be they company car, commercial vehicles, cash-takers or occasional users.
A licence check is a good starting point. This can be done online, but relies on drivers’ honesty and they may not declare penalty points.
The same applies to a visual check. One expert says it is “shockingly easy” for someone to show a clean copy of a licence that carries endorsements. With drivers’ permission, companies can check directly with the DVLA.
There are pros and cons to these methods. Checks on paper are labour- and time-intensive.
Online questionnaires make it difficult to monitor the process and although the DVLA route produces the most reliable information, there is a small charge (£1.50 per licence enquiry) and not all drivers give permission.
Other details surrounding licences may also be overlooked, including medical conditions that need updating or whether eyesight checks have been carried out every two years. Are they wearing any spectacles prescribed or does their prescription need updating?
Principal consultant at Lex Autolease Chris Chandler recommends carrying out an audit. “Check fleet policies and practices and validate those to ensure the two marry up,” he says.
To this can be added details of road traffic accidents, dents, maintenance records and fuel efficiency – fuel consumption by drivers covering comparable distances in similar cars can be assessed to identify further efficiencies.
Then add types of vehicle, journeys made and the times they are made.
This information can be spread around a company – fleet managers, HR managers and line managers may all hold different data that can add up to a clear picture of an individual’s behaviour, so part of a good strategy is to ensure all parties continually share information.