Four out of five company car and van drivers are putting their safety at risk and damaging their employer’s bottom line by breaking speed limits.
Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show that 1,857 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2010, with estimates suggesting a third died while driving for work.
However, a recent survey from ALD Automotive of more than 700 at-work drivers reveals that 85.5% continue to ignore crucial road safety messages.
Only 14.5% said they never drive above the legal speed limit, while 72.5% said they occasionally would drive at excessive speeds and 13% admitted to breaking the law on a regular basis.
The survey also suggests that speeding is more likely to occur on the motorway, with 79.5% of respondents admitting that is where the temptation is greatest, as opposed to 6% on dual carriageways, 2% on country roads and 1.7% in urban areas.
The Government has proposed raising the motorway speed limit from 70mph to 80mph, claiming the increase would be good for business (Fleet News, October 13).
Former transport secretary Philip Hammond said the consultation would begin this year, but the DFT told Fleet News that it would now get underway in the next few months.
It is expected it would take approximately 12 weeks to complete and if given the go-ahead it would be implemented in 2013.
However, driving at 80mph could use up to 20% more fuel than at 70mph, which could have serious consequences for company fuel bills, notwithstanding the obvious road safety implications.
Richard Hill, managing director of Peak Performance, said: “I think there’s a greater need for driver education.”
Hill recognises the fuel consumption argument, but says this isn’t a consideration for most company car drivers.
“Unfortunately it’s a case of how can I get from A to B as quickly as possible and that’s why we need to educate the driver about all the things that can be gained through safe and fuel-efficient driving,” he said.
Keith Allen, managing director of ALD Automotive, added: “The dilemma for fleet managers is how they can monitor the driving styles of their employees from a distance.
“How does a fleet manager know whether he is running a fleet that is safe and economical?
“Telematics can provide an ideal solution with fleet managers alerted quickly to any potentially costly driving behaviour that impacts both safety and fuel consumption.”
He continued: “ALD’s telematics solution, ProFleet2 provides auditable management records of all business journey data, thereby reducing the very real risk of prosecution and safeguarding against excessive speeding and the impact on safety and fuel consumption.
“Following some successful trialing in Q4, in the New Year we will also be launching some enhanced MPG/CO2 reporting functionality which will give both drivers and fleet managers the vital information they need to highlight fuel consumption by journey.
“With very little effort drivers can easily cut fuel bills by 5-10% and, as has been illustrated through our involvement in the annual ALD MPG Marathon, with some careful driving, fuel consumption can actually be improved by over 30% compared with the manufacturer approved figures.”
However, while technology certainly has a part to play, ALD’s survey also shows that only half of drivers are shopping around for the cheapest fuel, with one in five drivers simply filling up wherever is most convenient to them.
That’s grim reading for fleet managers who issue their drivers with fuelcards and reimburse on actual spend. It’s also not the brightest move for drivers who are reimbursed on advisory fuel rates (AFRs).
The survey also found that 13% of drivers are still flouting the ban on the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving.
ALD’s findings come in the wake of a Leasedrive survey of nearly 500 company car drivers, which revealed 47% of respondents were ‘sometimes’ filling up with fuel at motorway services – normally the most expensive – and 2% were regular visitors (Fleet News, September 29).
Hill concludes that fleet managers need to employ “a clear and positive approach” to educating their drivers to achieve the maximum impact.
He said: “Corporates need to demonstrate the commercial benefits and personal benefits.
“We are dealing with human beings – when we know there’s something in it for us, we are more likely to engage.”
Action plan to manage road safety
Work-related road safety can only be effectively managed if it is integrated into your health and safety policy, according to the Heath and Safety Executive.
Here, it looks at the five key areas to address.
1. Policy: Does your health and safety policy cover work-related road safety? The policy should be written down if you employ five or more people.
2. Responsibility: Is there top-level commitment and is responsibility clearly defined? Does the person who is responsible have sufficient authority to exert influence and does everyone understand what’s expected of them?
3. Organisation and structure: Is there co-operation across departments?
4. Systems: Do you have adequate systems to allow you to manage work-related road safety effectively? For example, are vehicles regularly inspected and serviced?
5. Monitoring: Do you monitor performance to ensure your policy is effective? Are employees encouraged to report all work-related road incidents? Do you collect information to allow you to make informed decisions about the need for change?