FLEET managers can commit to stamping out speeding, driver tiredness and risk-taking by adopting new industry codes from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
The three 10-point codes are aimed at providing a benchmark for fleets to address driver safety head-on, with commitments to tackling a range of problems facing the industry, as reported last week.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has issued the codes to follow up its Managing Occupational Road Risk Guidance, launched in 1998.
The codes aim to deal with the three main culprits behind fleet accidents and provide companies committing to them with set strategy for dealing with the problem.
Details are available at www.rospa.com/morr
Preventing inappropriate use of speed
Speed is a controversial issue for fleet managers to face, as many drivers dispute the Government's claim that speed kills, arguing that inappropriate speed is the problem.
Speeding is thought to be a contributory factor in about one-third of all road collisions, involving about 70,000 accidents in the year 2000.
A Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions speed survey in 2001 found that more than half the cars on motorways and dual carriageways exceed the speed limit. On urban roads, with 30mph limits, 66% of drivers speed, and on 40mph roads a quarter of drivers speed.
The 10-point RoSPA code is:
Safe driving: make it clear that the company expects staff to drive safely at all times.
Raising awareness: ensure company policy on safe use of speed is clearly communicated, that it is backed by publicity and that awareness is maintained.
Keeping within the speed limits: make it clear that the company expects employees never to drive faster than road or driving conditions safely allow and that employees should obey speed limits.
Leading by example: senior managers should lead by example in the way they drive.
Planning safe journeys: make it clear that journeys should be planned with safety in mind.
Avoid incentives to speed: avoid having in place work targets which may create pressure on staff to use speed inappropriately.
Vehicle allocation: Ensure the performance characteristics of vehicles are matched to drivers' level of competency.
Active monitoring: consider introducing monitoring arrangements to assess the extent of employee compliance with the policy on speeding.
Reactive monitoring: investigate 'at-work' vehicle accidents to determine whether inappropriate use of speed was a contributory factor.
Liaison: work with police forces and road safety bodies to build co-operation.
Ensuring driver competence
THE easiest way to avoid car accidents is not to drive at all, but for employees who rely on their cars, RoSPA recommends a key set of standards to keep them safe on the road.
As part of the overall commitment to manage occupational road risk, a firm should have clear statements in place which show it will take action to ensure staff are competent drivers.
An awareness-raising programme using regular communications should hammer home the safety message.
Firms should also make it clear that they wish to achieve continuous improvement.
Employees will be assessed at interview stage and prior to the allocation of driving tasks. The code says: 'Assessment should take account of the driver's attitude, road safety knowledge and driving skills at the wheel.'
Firms will need to set minimum standards of competence to be met by employees before they can drive for work and introduce a prioritised programme of driver development, including defensive driver training. This would target staff with the greatest needs, based on amount and type of driving and their accident/ enforcement history.
Targets for improvement should also be set for individuals and groups.
All managers should make a personal commitment to lead by example.
Achievement should be recognised and commended to colleagues.
Firms should have ways to monitor the effectiveness of their driver development. This should include adherence to assessment procedures and delivery of training, monitoring of the driving behaviour of employees on roads and identifying the extent of any shortfall in driver competence revealed by accident and incident investigation.
The firm should also review the impact of training on accident rates and remember the mantra that safe drivers never stop learning.
Preventing falling asleep at the wheel
RoSPA's code on preventing falling asleep at the wheel warns that sleepiness could play a part in a quarter of road accidents.
The document recommends:
A driving limit of 350 miles in a single working day and warns: 'Ensure the driver is fit to drive and the drive is fit for the driver'.
Employees should not be tired before they start and should not be required to drive for excessive hours.
Raise awareness, particularly in driver training programmes, of the dangers of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Fleets should encourage alternative travel to avoid the risk altogether.
nLine managers should ensure that employees know the importance of a good night's sleep before starting to drive.
Employers should examine risk arrangements and be aware of the dangers of asking drivers to work during the night.
n They should warn drivers who have long distances to commute of the risks of falling asleep on the way home.
Safe coping strategies should be set out for drivers, such as a 15-minute nap and two strong cups of coffee as the best defence against tiredness. Winding windows down, turning the stereo on and singing songs are dismissed as ineffective.
Companies commit to active and reactive monitoring, so employers should be able to ask staff about sleep during appraisals, while journey planning should be monitored.
Drivers should be encouraged and thanked for reporting on instances when they have experienced sleepiness at the wheel and the experience could be shared to see what lessons could be learnt.