You might assume that the early stages of risk management are the hardest.
After all, that’s when a lot of work has to be done – building the business case, getting support from senior managers, putting policies in place and risk assessing and training your drivers.
Once the results have materialised in the form of fewer accidents, lower costs and a reduced insurance premium, it must be relatively plain sailing – right? Well, no.
At that stage things can often become more challenging.
Dave Wallington, group safety adviser at BT, which has had a driver risk management programme in place since 2002, says: “It gets harder as you go along; the better you get, the harder it gets.”
Dr Will Murray, research director at Interactive Driving Systems (IDS), who works closely with BT on its risk management programme, agrees.
“Fleet safety is not a one-off event, such as driver training, but a regular, ongoing process,” he says.
One scenario a company at that stage of risk management might come across is that their fleet’s accident rate more or less plateaus. Or, worse, it may rise again.
So what should fleet operators do in those circumstances?
Analyse the data?
There are a number of questions fleet operators should be asking when comparing their baseline data with what is currently happening on the fleet, according to Richard Hill, managing director of Peak Performance.
These include: are the incidents happening at a particular time of day or day of the week? Are specific types of road involved? Is one group of drivers predominantly responsible for the increase in activity? Are you responsible for both company vehicles and grey fleet drivers and could this be a contributory cause?
Consider influencing factors
Both internal and external factors might be influencing the accident rate.
David Blacklock, insurance manager at ARI Fleet (formerly Fleet Support Group), suggests that an increase in the accident rate could be linked to changes in fleet operations and/or changes in the wider business.
“Fleet changes that could trigger a rise in incident rates might include increasing mileage, replacement cycles extension or route planning amendments,” he says.
There may be changes in staff moral or additional contracts to service, for example.