Fleet News

Fleet van soapbox: Safety gaps must be shut

High quality academic research from around the word (for example the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK and the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland in Australia) suggests that: ‘Work-related road safety is most likely to be improved by the introduction of an integrated set of measures based on the safety culture within the organisation’.

It is widely regarded that the first step in this process is to have a written fleet safety policy in place – which can also offer organisations a level of protection in any corporate manslaughter case.

With this in mind, three recent research surveys in the UK have focused on the fleet safety policies that organisations have in place.

1. Towards the end of 2004, Nottingham Business School’s Centre for Automotive Industries management found that only 31% of the fleets in its survey had a written fleet safety policy in place.

2. A study by the RAC in early 2005 put this figure at 60% of fleets.

3. More recent findings published on the internet suggest that 79% of companies have no fleet risk management strategy in place.

Clearly there are some conflicting figures coming out from these surveys. For this reason we at Interactive Driving Systems decided to undertake our own research on this issue, based around three questions:

1) Do you have a written fleet safety policy in place?
2) Is the policy reviewed, improved and updated annually?
3) Do you check your drivers’ knowledge of the policy?

The latter two questions were felt to be important because having a policy is an important starting point – but living, breathing and making the policy work for you is better.

The survey was posted on our internet site at www.vfrm.net and was responded to by 242 fleet managers. Of these:

  • 70% have a written fleet safety policy, 30% don’t.
  • 49% update the policy annually, 51% don’t.
  • Even less, 41%, check their drivers’ understanding, 59% don’t.

    These results suggest that although almost three quarters of respondents had a policy, less than half of them reviewed and updated it on a regular basis and that almost two thirds of them did not bother to check whether their people were aware of, understood or applied the policy.

    This led us to believe that there are some clear gaps between organisations’ policies – what they say and what they actually do – and suggested that we should import one of our US tools into the UK.

    Risk Foundation is a tool to help organisations take the step from having the policy to making it an integral part of their ‘crash-free culture’ program. To develop a risk foundation solution, we work closely with each client to turn their health and safety and road safety policy and procedure manuals into 45 question assessments of the most safety critical issues for drivers.

    The objective of the assessment is to create a critical mass of knowledge among employees who drive for work purposes about the key policies and procedures designed to keep them safe at all times.

    Following the launch of this new service to a number of clients earlier this year, the key benefits have been identified as:

    1) Significant reductions in the number of ‘I was not aware of that’ excuses.
    2) Much greater awareness of company policy and procedures.
    3) Better understanding by management of the operational implications of key policies and procedures.
    4) Creates a management review process to update, clarify and/or rewrite key policies and procedures not being used or monitored.

    Risk Foundation is designed to be updated and retaken every 12 months by everyone driving for work purposes, to keep them up to date on changes in working practices and legislation that may impact on certain policies and procedures. The extensive management information system that sits behind Risk Foundation also ensures that the policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and updated by managers – as well as ensuring that drivers read and understand them.

    New drivers are tasked with completing their Risk Foundation assessment before finishing their induction/orientation program.

    We believe that this is a massive step forward in terms of converting organisations’ existing, but often ‘dead’ fleet safety policies into a living, breathing fleet safety process.
  • More detailed reports on our research are available at www.vfrm.net
  • Does something in the LCV fleet industry get YOU hot under the collar? E-mail trevor.gelken@emap.com and take your turn on the Fleet Van soapbox
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