Fleet News

Grasp the nettle and take the rap

FLEET executives must be prepared to ‘make themselves unpopular’ if they are to run a safe and efficient company car policy.

Even the most senior-ranking management must be ordered to toe the line when it comes to access to vehicles and attitudes to safety, if they are driving on business in any vehicle.

Delegates attending a duty of care seminar were given an outline of the fleet decision-maker’s role that will ensure companies meet their duty of care obligations to at-work drivers.

Professor Peter Cooke, of Automotive Industries Management at Nottingham Business School, told delegates: ‘You may check driving licences but do you check these people? Do you let them go off and drive in a 3.0-litre car or do you put them through driving instruction?

‘Are senior people in your organisation good drivers or lucky drivers? Look at the people in your organisation who have powerful cars. Be prepared to make yourself a bit unpopular.’

On the issue of driving licence checking, Cooke said this should be performed as part of the job application process – before an applicant is given a contract.

He told delegates he knew of one case when a field sales staff member given a new job assumed the company would now fund his driving lessons as he had not yet passed his test.

Cooke added: ‘Licences should be checked every three months – and make sure you check the original, both the paper and plastic sections. Also, if other family members use the car, check their licences at least twice a year.’

Cooke suggests that using the services of an external contractor such as the AA or RAC could eliminate any embarrassment associated with having to ask the company’s managing director for a copy of his or her driving licence.

Companies showing a commitment to staff safety could also find they attract the best employees, Cooke claimed. He added: ‘People nowadays are not just looking for salary, they’re looking for the whole package, including a company’s duty of care.’

Cooke warned last week that too many boardrooms were still failing to take company fleets seriously and consider them a boardroom issue (Fleet NewsNet, May 5, 2005).

This was despite predictions that authorities will target at least one major company under new corporate manslaughter laws within the next 12 months.

The advice and information, along with the tables below, was given by Cooke at a seminar called ‘Duty of Care and the Fleet Executive: Status and Expectations’, sponsored by ATS Euromaster and Michelin.

Measurements for risk management/road safety

  • Record all incidents involving business cars and cars used on business. Establish/publish sanctions for employees who fail to report incidents
  • Specify type of incidents to be reported
  • Analyse the results by type of incident, vehicle type, region and staff function and location
  • Review findings regularly and look for patterns
  • If no risk management specialist in-house, either buy in consultancy service or recruit. Insurance company should be able to help
  • Disseminate message across the organisation from the top as to the new attitude to risk and vehicle safety

    Establishing a climate for risk management policy

  • Establish framework business policy for vehicle and road safety
  • Publish the policy within the organisation
  • Build employee awareness of road safety and risk management issues
  • Create ongoing internal publicity regarding safety and risk management
  • Establish/publish implementation of a risk management action plan – and its implications for dissenting drivers
  • Lead by example from senior management.

    Key board actions for driving safety

  • Nominate responsible board director
  • Complete comprehensive risk assessment
  • Regular board reporting of incidents and board report follow-up – publicise internally
  • Annual report to board on safety of driving on business

    Duty of care

  • Have a comprehensive road safety policy supported by management – in writing
  • Have road safety management procedures in place, including risk assessment and implement safe practices to eradicate or minimise identified risk
  • Ensure employees are given relevant information, training and supervision to be safe on the road
  • Regularly audit the safety of journeys and policies and procedures accordingly if new risks are identified
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