Every driver is different in both driving style and attitude, so a light commercial vehicle fleet with a high number of reversing prangs, for example, will require a different risk package to a high-mileage sales fleet with a propensity for scrapes and knocks.
This makes it vital for fleet decision-makers to tailor their risk strategies. It sounds simple on paper but when budgets are involved, it can become more difficult.
Deciding on the amount of budget available must be the first step for fledging fleets embarking on a tailored risk strategy, according to John Ascroft, director of fleet services at RAC Business Solutions.
Ascroft is responsible for a number of key areas within RAC Business Solutions including risk management, accident management and fleet planning.
He believes fleet managers must first agree on the money available to spend before choosing which type of risk management package to use.
RAC Business Solutions says a full risk package for a 100-vehicle fleet could cost about £20,000. A basic package for the same fleet would amount to about £5,000. With an average accident costing more than £1,000, it doesn’t need a huge impact to pay for itself.Ascroft said: ‘Some companies are prepared to spend more than others but fleets have to be serious about risk management and have the money up front. They need to know how to tailor the strategy but having the budget is critical.’
When a budget has been agreed fleet operators can then begin to look at which aspects of their fleet should be addressed with a risk policy. This can only be done if data has been gathered, collated and analysed. The data should show the most common type of accident, which drivers are usually involved and if any pattern exists.
Ascroft said: ‘Look at the data gathered either in-house or by using an accident management company, broker or insurer. It should be able to show claims records and the results need to be analysed which will show all the claims the fleet has had.
‘The data will show the accident type and the groups of individuals involved such as delivery drivers, sales people or high mileage drivers.
‘Fleets may find that all delivery drivers are responsible for the claims and will be able to see the target areas to focus on.’
Don’t assume throwing money at a situation is an iron-clad cure. Sometimes, a simple chat with a problem driver will suffice – and it is free. Ascroft said: ‘If a driver had four accidents costing £4,000 and the results were analysed, the fleet manager could first have a word with the employee. Making them aware of the problem could be a low-cost effective measure.’
There is also plenty of low cost advice available. The RAC for example can help fleet managers create a case to take to the board. A document showing how claims have been reduced can help fleets to show the data and make it visible to the finance manager.
Ascroft said: ‘Fleet operators should ask: if they could reduce the accident rate for the top 25 offenders, what would be the benefit? Any risk management policy must fit in with the company culture and there are a number of routes, such as web-based assessment, which are relatively low cost and assess driver behaviour.’
Fleet operators can also do a lot of legwork before paying for a risk strategy. Looking at the implications of impending legislation can help prepare for changes which may have to be made.
Ascroft said: ‘Look at Government websites and get as much information as possible. Then find a way of changing the behaviour of drivers.’ (The Department for Transport website can be found at www.dft.gov.uk and the Health and Safety Exec- utive site at www.hse.gov.uk).
Fleets have to meet legal obligations but they can get support from insurance companies or manufacturers, according to Ascroft, who also advises fleets to use leasing companies to tap into the risk management advice available from them.
Other cost-effective ways to implement risk practices include putting company car drivers through management seminars and offering driver training. But in the end, fleet managers need to start with the low-cost measure and work up. Spending large amounts across the board could actually confuse the situation more.
Statistics show most damage is caused to vehicles while parked
TO highlight the importance of tailoring risk management packages, RAC Business Solutions has provided Fleet News with statistics showing the top five accident causes recorded by the group.
The sectors have been divided into two main groupings – banking and retail (B&R) and service and transport (S&T) but damage caused to stationary parked vehicles is by far the most common incident across both sectors. John Ascroft said: ‘A standard risk management programme will not be as effective as a tailored one in mitigating risk. Looking at the figures in the table shows that both sectors could do with training on defensive parking and the service and transport sector definitely needs some accident avoidance training.’
TOP FIVE ACCIDENT CAUSES BY PERCENTAGE:
|B&R (%)||S&T (%)|
|Damaged while parked||14.25||10.5|
|Driver hit stationary target||7.25||6.79|
|Third party hit driver||7.01||9.36|
|Driver hit third party||4.14||8.84|
|Manoeuvres and reversing||2.24||2.72|