'There are 3,500 road deaths every year in the United Kingdom and the number of road injuries runs into the hundreds of thousands.
Recent research from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has shown that 'between 23% and 30% of all serious road traffic accidents involve someone at work at the time'.
It has also estimated that 'between a third and a half of all road traffic incidents involve someone at work – a driver, passenger or member of the public'.
It is clear that reducing accident levels not only protects staff and their families from distress and trauma, but it also makes a real difference to the bottom line. The hidden cost that results from an accident is usually between eight and 32 times the cost of the incident itself.
There are many non-insurance losses that have to be faced, from loss of business, late deliveries and cancelled orders to compensation for injury and even death.
For example, if a senior sales person was injured, it would not only have a serious personal effect, it would also impact on the cash flow of the business. Bad risk management practice could also result in heavy court fines and, in some cases, imprisonment.
The good news, however, is that accidents are not just a matter of bad luck – they are preventable.
Fleet decision-makers should work with suppliers, including insurers, to develop and maintain a tailored risk management programme to help reduce both the frequency and cost of road accidents.
Risk management is a continuous process. After having identified problem areas and established a process to make improvements, it is important to review and enhance the process on an on-going basis.
There is no such thing as a 'one size fits all' strategy. Risk management programmes are all about identifying individual business needs. There is always room for improvement, as the responsibility on the employer is becoming more onerous.
Also make sure your on-road driving courses are tailored to address specific issues. Courses focused on safe driving develop the core visual and mental skills needed to improve risk perception and decision-making on the road.
Economy driving aims to improve fuel consumption, extend tyre life and reduce maintenance and running costs.
You should also consider taking part in the 'How's my driving?' scheme, which enables driver performance to be commented on via a 24-hour freephone hotline.
Electronic fleet management systems also provide real-time tracking and monitoring of vehicles, to monitor dangerous drivers and assess improvements after training.
The approach suggested by the HSE is that fleet decision-makers should 'recognise the inherent risks associated with driving and manage activity accordingly'. In reality, this means adopting more sensible route planning and meeting scheduling.
An overnight hotel stay may cost the company £80, but compared to the potential costs of employee absence for four weeks following a relatively minor accident, it becomes a worthwhile long-term investment.
Good risk management will improve the efficiency of your business, reduce costs and – through more careful driving practice – improve the residual value of the fleet. Insurers and insurance intermediaries are keen to share their risk management expertise with fleets to reduce fleet vehicle accidents.
The creation of an effective risk management programme will not only reduce cost, but it will lead to a safer environment for your employees.'