To tackle the problem, fleet decision-makers have to take the fight for a safer fleet to their directors and demand action to tackle key safety issues, Jeremy Hay, chief executive of Risk Answers told delegates.
Speaking during a session sponsored by Platinum Fleet Management, called Risky Business, he said: 'This is an organisational issue. Most organisations just don't care, but fleet decision-makers need to be the catalyst for change, backed by human resources, directors and other areas.
'Your job as fleet manager is to get the directors on board, you need them on your side to make the company's attitude to risk change.'
The publication of the Health and Safety Executive's 'Driving at Work' document (go to Useful Stuff for a click through) emphasises the need for change by setting out nearly 100 areas of safety responsibility that fleets should consider. Hay argued that the guidance meant fleets now had knowledge of what they should be doing – and that meant there would be no excuse for inaction in the eyes of the courts.
He added: 'If you want to ensure the directors listen, then you need them to say “we need to address this”. Ask your directors which of them is going to prison if there is a prosecution following a fatal accident, because someone will have to. That will make them take notice.'
The HSE guidance offers six steps to creating a thorough risk assessment of the fleet, including looking for hazards, evaluating the risks, introducing controls and measures, recording findings and reviewing the assessment.
Hay insisted taking action was down to the whole business, not just the fleet manager, particularly with expected changes to workplace health and safety rules meaning vehicle accidents will have to be recorded by law in the same way as any other workplace accident.
An internal team could create a business case for optimising risk, including savings from fewer accidents and issue key deliverables to the directors.
He added: 'The legal liabilities are huge and I would urge fleet decision-makers to check their contracts and indemnity insurance. This is an organisational issue that someone is going to drop on your desk, so you really need to get the organisation on board to support any changes you suggest. It is time for action.'