Fleet News

Fleets heading blindly to safety catastrophe

THE vast majority of fleets are jeopardising the lives of their drivers by ignoring even the most basic risk management processes, shocking new statistics have revealed.

A staggering 85% of fleets are not covering four of the most simple risk management procedures – licence checking, new driver vetting, publishing a driver handbook and investigating accidents – according to fleet insurer Norwich Union.

Although fleets are doing at least one of the above, Norwich Union claims doing all four makes up the most basic of procedures.

Competitor Zurich has backed up the claim after finding more than a third of fleets are doing nothing at all.

This is despite repeated warnings from industry bodies, the Government, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and safety organisations that fleets need to have systems in place to avoid prosecution as a result of employees having accidents while at driving at work.

The Government claims it will release draft legislation on a Corporate Killing Bill in the next few months.

Norwich Union put the figure together following a survey involving 12,000 fleets. The research also revealed that less than 8% are doing any kind of driver training.

Kevin Edwards, head of motor underwriting for Norwich Union, said: 'We knew progress had not been fast but it shows just how much further there is to go. And when it comes to driver training – which isn't a panacea for all ills – the number is even lower.'

He warned that ignorance of risk management was widespread in small fleets.

He said: 'I think a lot of companies think 'it doesn't apply to us because we only run a small fleet'. They think they know everyone who drives and what they do, so they haven't got a problem.

'But big claims are not the preserve of the big fleets.'

According to experts at the firm, part of the blame for the apathy lies at the door of the Health and Safety Executive, which they believe is not putting enough effort into at-work driving risk management.

Brian Lee, risk manager motor for Norwich Union, said: 'There is not a lot of commitment from the HSE and we want to take them on about it. It will spend on initiatives in areas where something like 75 people were killed last year, yet the roads are killing 10 people a day and I think the HSE has got its priorities wrong.'

According to Zurich, from 200 companies polled, 39% do nothing to promote driver safety while only 3% check employees' driving history and licences.

Ron Munro, motor manager for Zurich's Corporate and Government division, believes companies should be doing more. He said: 'Employers need to take control of managing driver safety by assessing their drivers' awareness and acting on the information. By adopting a safe driving at work culture, not only can businesses increase safety but by reducing the number of accidents and the number of claims they make, they will save money in terms of lost contracts, delayed deliveries, damaged produce, staff disruption and, in some cases, damage to the company's reputation.'

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