Fleet News

Protect your drivers, firms told

COMPANIES are being told to pay greater attention to ensuring the safety of their staff on the roads - or face being shamed publicly for endangering life if legal action ensues. While the initial Government strategy is to persuade companies to give greater attention and resources to the issue it is being made increasingly clear that what may be needed is 'strong-arm tactics' to force managers into introducing hazard reduction practises.

The Driving Standards Agency, in a partnership that is now being created with risk management organisations, has suggested that in order to push the message of the benefits of driver assessment and education it will mailshot every managing director in the country with a car or van fleet and look at launching publicity campaigns. But first, over the next few weeks the agency is to create a formal partnership with all of the organisations involved in fleet driver training to advance the strategies they agree are necessary to change company culture regarding crashes.

The work will inevitably overlap with that which is being carried out by the Health and Safety Executive into how its powers, which centre on safety in the workplace, could be brought to bear. Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the DSA, said: 'How to get the message across to companies that how they manage their staff is crucially important to road safety is a complex issue, but our work will be about convincing them through awareness training and education. Links with the Health and Safety Executive, and what the police do, are a possibility.

'We want to tell employers they can improve performance of their business. Whether in the longer term health and safety legislation should used is not decided yet. The HSE has taken a decision on that. But be sure, we have not excluded the possibility we may need to use 'sticks' to beat companies into complying.'

It is thought that in the same way as a company can now be prosecuted and 'publicly shamed' if it is found to be negligent of staff safety in the workplace through the HSE, its statutory powers could be brought to bear on a firm found to be ignoring the safety of its fleet drivers. But initially the DSA is looking at measures such as bench marking of fleets, a single training syllabus and trainer accreditation as well as helping companies set up safety incentive - or penalty - schemes, offer advice on the accident management software and establish a voluntary register of training providers.

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